The 3 Rules of Social Media

Stravinsky, doing what he loved before the Twitter bird rolled over his head in this promo shot for The Modern Ear.

Stravinsky, doing what he loved before the Twitter bird rolled over his head in this promo shot for The Modern Ear.

The great composer Igor Stravinsky, known for his controversial Rite of Spring ballet music, once said:

“the more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

Social media marketing is not as easy as it sounds. How can something with so many users be funneled into a powerful tool for brands, websites, products, and causes? What’s the purpose of it all? Why are there all these character limits? Why can’t I upload GIFs to Facebook but I can to Twitter? Lo, the shackles!

It does not happen overnight, or with a small budget, or just one mystical intern.

You might be going at it the wrong way, or you’re trying to be too over-the-top. Here are a few rules to help you organize your “everyday” and that “annual report.” These are the ingredients to a more successful strategy:

  1. Worry less about creating awesome content, worry more about listening to people. Social media is a gold mine of data. And that data? That data is a bunch of real people. If you are a new eco-friendly clothing brand, search on “eco-friendly” or “environmentally conscious” or “green energy” – build your branding and reputation by engaging in conversations that matter. You will probably generate some leads and uncover new partnerships.
  2. Stop writing long tweets and Facebook posts, post more pictures and video and be thematic. Sometimes the answer to that visual content is laying on your desk or in a store room. Grab some of those promo items, turn them into little figurines that playfully move around your desk in a fun Vine, or make a crossword puzzle that can be tweeted out as an image. Everyone wants to interact and see something atypical, few want to just read your promotional copy. (Unless it’s funny?) Make a schedule, think ahead. You’ll start drawing parallels and connections you never would have thought about. Oh – loop in public relations and marketing calendars too… social media is a tool for them. Be a useful tool.
  3. Set goals and analyze success. What’s attainable and realistic, and how will you measure it?

What are some stories you have that illustrate the “rules” above?

4-Step Cartoon: What Social Platforms Should my Brand use?

Cartoon by Jason E. Ballmann

Overloaded with information? Don’t know where to turn?

Deciding what platform to use for your brand can be daunting. Consider the following:

1) What is my brand best at? Short, concise messages (Twitter)? Describing why you need an item? (Facebook) Flashy colors and unique design (Pinterest/Facebook/Tumblr)?

2) What resources do I have? Can I produce content easily and efficiently? Aka, is it worth the investment?

3) Do I understand the style of each platform well enough to create content for it? Or should I hire this platform out?

4) Is this a platform that my traditional audience will enjoy, or am I trying to reach a new audience, or both?

What else do you think is important when selecting a social platform for a brand?

Big Brother is Watching – So Stare Right Back!

This article on how law enforcement agencies are using social media to fight crime got me thinking – we are being watched! It tells us just how fine that bureaucratic comb is:

Social Media Analytics in Law Enforcement – Technology – POLICE Magazine.

So we know that B2B and B2B strategies have been empowering the world of commerce since the early millennium. It is not always that interesting either. I’ve certainly had my share in promoting the silliest if not most eccentric of campaigns for products/events/services.

But yes, a variety of law enforcement agencies, emergency management agencies, and other government agencies and non-profits are strategically (and quite meaningfully) understanding and implementing social media strategy. Finally, these are some people worth following who will not post about their not-so-exciting breakfast, latest pair of headphones, or sad, racist grandmother.

Of-course, President @BarackObama largely popularized this notion as perhaps the most infamous government employee to use Twitter. Emily Rahimi of Fire Department of New York was quite the superhero when Sandy hit NYC. And as always, the American Red Cross (@RedCross) is enormously helpful for those who need aid during critical times.

These are just examples – make sure you spend time in selecting who to follow. Check into local police departments (LAPDhq), state emergency management associations (CalEMA), or even that helpful non-profit (@ShakeOut)!

Photo taken from the article, “Government Interest and Archiving Twitter”, on the Iterasi blog

Succumb to a Virus: Being Trendy

The trendiest thing to do these days is to trend (Mashable’s list is excellent). Being viral is all the rage, especially on Twitter where you can see under “tailored trends” what is trending your own city.

Trends guarantee that people are talking about your product, service, or organization, but are those conversations lasting? The same question goes for the disgruntled CEO who wants to see 5,000 more likes by 2 PM – are those likes going to increase your profits?

Before you decide that you want to aim for trending, ask yourself whether or not trending is going to enhance your brand. Chances are, your focus may be better suited for a promoted tweet, sending out a viral video to your coworkers to share, or launching a moderately aggressive Facebook ads campaign.

So let’s say your idea is worth trending. What should you do?

1. Leverage Connections

Any good PR person knows that blind, cold calls just make you look desperate. Do you know the media connection you’re contacting? Do you already know 10 industry peers who though might not be the chief editor for Vogue, but if banded together, could spread your content like wildfire?

You have to think, who do I know that will support me the most? What about LinkedIn? That dumb girl on Twitter?

2. Email

Have a big database? Or a bunch of awesome peers ready to jump in for you? Over-advertise that hashtag. Write a creative copy for the subject line.

Focus on that one thing you want to promote and provide a clear, centered idea of what you want the recipient to do (but in a sneaky way).

3. Paid Media

There is nothing wrong with promoted tweets/accounts and Facebook ads. Drive those clicks! Link to what you want them to read!!! Just make sure those share buttons are there.

Have you gone back to add new copy into your YouTube videos lately and enabled your account for ads?

4. Earned Media

Let people tweet a pre-written tweet or share a pre-written post when they push “like”. Give them the words, make their job easier. (… share buttons …)

5. Talk About it Yourself

That’s pretty straightforward. Use your personal accounts!

6. Throw an Event

Make it personal. Wait, scratch that. Give them a memory. Don’t have just an online presence, be the guy next to you at the bar. Show off that QR code tattoo. Have that hashtag on a billboard. Encourage social media participation at the event (tweet that you are at the event for a free drink, etc…)

I hope that some of these tips help. If you have any other ideas or questions, please let me know in the comments!

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Social Media: Its Own Corporate Department?

The social media team can find themselves within Public Relations, Marketing, Sales, or Customer Service. Or, he or she may exist as their own department.

So what is really the best choice? No one knows.

There are convincing arguments for Public Relations or Marketing. 

But you still won’t be too convinced. Is it an ambitious sales force or a self-medicating talking head?

Well why not both?

It is my opinion that the social media team should exist as its own department cross-checked and brought into discussions by PR and Marketing.

Social media specializes in its own venue. Do not try and pigeon-hole it into another department for you may water it down, especially if it’s a relatively new part of your company.Image

While you can certainly see a bit of a management/coordination effort here, that should NOT scare you off from maximizing it as a golden tool for eCommerce, messaging, branding, promotions, or whatsoever things.

Social Media is a company content hub. It needs to grab from all sources and play equal with all the others. It needs to thrive on the ability to be a chameleon and be a part of another department.

It needs to deeply integrate itself within your company. Let it grow from within, and after 6 months, if you still think it needs to be a part of another wing, then have the discussion again.

What do you all think? Do you see social media the same way or as one or another?