Monthly Archives: June 2009

Putting the “Social” back into “Social Media”

So social media is about being social—no surprise there, right?

Wrong if you are hanging out in this “social media space” not knowing what to do and simply maintaining a one-way Twitter or Facebook account.

Social media is as much about being proactive as being reactive.

In regard to Twitter, the key to maintaining a successful account people want to follow and engage with is engaging first.

Let’s take a look at an account I managed for the past six months.

(The account will remain unnamed.)

We began with 0 followers and are up to 3,400 in 180 days. The key to this account is engaging with followers by creating a discussion, answering those who ask questions, addressing those who send feedback, and thanking those who post images…and doing everything in between.

Being a consumer business, it would be very easy to put Twitter on auto-pilot and blast promotions and focus on products…but that was not the strategy. And that would not yield the results of having 3,400 people actively follow the account.

The social media strategy (and that is why you need a social media strategy) included building brand awareness and engaging with Guests through their social media channels of choice (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace). Twitter, being an intimate source of communication, was focused on managing the brand’s online reputation, creating brand visibility and responding to feedback. The consumers of the brand have a natural inclination to share ideas, images, stories and information and want a chance to “get something special” such as free products.

To get the dialogue started and a “buzz” going about the brand, engaging questions were posted on the account to evoke responses. A simple question, that was relevant to all consumers of the brand, was posed and yielded over 200 responses. The account also hosted contests for a chance to win free products and co-sponsored scavenger hunts with other Twitter accounts to create a longer period of engagement for that particular tactic.

On the reactive side, when there were mentions of the brand within the space, a reactive approach was initiated by engaging with the user and referring to the mention. If it was an issue or concern, the required follow-up steps were taken. If it was a mention of how much the user loved the products, a simple “thanks” was sent.

The Facebook fan page also took a proactive/reactive approach by allowing all fans to comment on all posts, which included commenting to win contests (my personal favorite was a caption contest—over 130 entries and over 250 interactions, and the contest lasted for two hours). The fan page hosts images and slyly adds certain ideas to gauge feedback as to what consumers want from the brand. Oh and it gained over 35,000 fans in the same time frame.

So what did you learn from this (I hope)?

You must decide on a focus for your social media strategy:
1. What do you want to accomplish through your efforts?
2. And more importantly, what will your audience be receptive to in this space?

Once your strategy is developed, to be “social” you must:
• Engage by being proactive first and manage the space by being reactive
• Give your readers/followers/fans what they want and allow them to provide feedback
• Be interesting, fun and never end up mundane, creativity has no limit!

…and this is how to put the “social” back into “social media.”

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Make it easy… Social Media = Conversation

I read As Social Technologies Become Pervasive, Prepare Your Company this morning and completely agree with the points in this post.

As I work with more and more companies through my business (here’s the plug), Something Creative, LLC, and answer the question “what is social media?” and work to create strategies to answer “how can I use social media?” I realize companies really are embracing this concept.

…on the other hand, some of the key decision makers in these companies are still split–half want to embrace and the other half are still in the “convince me” mindset. A great point in the article (I guess I always thought about, but never thought to use to explain to others teetering on the edge of social media acceptance) is to emphasize that social media is a conversation. It is an online conversation using new technologies and new outlets. It is doing the same thing companies are doing (or maybe not doing…oops) and taking it online to reach an audience that might not be engaging in other ways and/or prefer to be engaged through this outlet.

Conversations make sense. No lead, sale or deal can be made without some sort of conversation. No reputation can be managed without a dialogue. An online conversation can prove to be just as (or more) valuable than an in-person or phone conversation.

So the moral is to make it easy. Compare new marketing with old marketing “buzz” words to show that marketing is still messaging (well dialogue), audience and channel, but with expansions on the definition of those concepts.