Five approaches to social media: one must be right for you

There are so many different ways to use social media, so many platforms to consider, so many tools to connect with your audience and so many variations on the content a brand can create, I figured it might help to simplify things into five easy to remember approaches. So here they are.

The James Cagney
Like Cagney with a machine gun, this is the spray-and-pray approach. Stick up a fan page, post some stuff on Twitter, upload some videos to YouTube and hope for the best. Given the millions of people visiting those social networking and content sites every day someone’s bound to see at least some of your stuff.

The Woody Allen
As Woody said, 90 percent of success in life is just showing up. So what the heck, just get out there, anywhere, hang around, have a conversation, participate, engage, see what happens. Wing it a little, make a few friends and hey, at least you can say you’re using social media.

The Ed Wood
What, you’ve never made a viral video? That doesn’t matter. If Ed Wood can make a movie, you can make a viral video. Get a camera, stick in a cassette and point it at anything you think is funny. Chances are if you think it’s funny other people will think it’s funny. Simply stick your masterpiece on YouTube or Vimeo and before you know it 1,000,000 people, give or take a few zeroes, will hit play.

The Edward L Bernays
OK, let’s get little serious for a moment. This is the PR approach to social media. You come up with an angle, an insight, the results of a survey, synthesize them into a sound bite and pitch it to bloggers, micro-bloggers and twittering journalists. They’ll appreciate not having to generate any content themselves and gladly pass it on as if it’s news.

The George Washington
Media companies like this one. Take out the wallet and pay for presence. Stick an ad on Facebook or YouTube, or a popular blog. Or maybe buy some search results. Hey, why do any work, manual labor or ongoing maintenance when you can just fork the cash over to Google or Yahoo? It’s still called social media, right?

Of course you could always do it the right way.  Determine exactly what your audience is looking for (entertainment, information, community); develop a strategy; create relevant content; build a brand network platform; and construct a “a cone of connection” that has engagers at the bottom and influencers at the top.  That will probably work a lot better. 

Comments?  Thoughts?  Ideas for what makes a great social media program?  Please share them.



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Maria Lavis
Maria Lavis

There are also some twitter specialist approaches I have seen:

How about the Demi and Aplusk tease approach? Already be famous and get your fans to feel that much closer to being part of your entourage.

Then there is the Stephen Fry approach. Be famous AND follow back AND be engaging and you will go to the top.

Then there is the Bette Davis: Be mysterious and alluring. Many ladies try this approach, and it may be a good strategy for certain types of products.

You can`t neglect the Warren Ellis or Neil Gaiman approach if you are a writer. You extend your personna online in your tweets, giving out epithets that intrigue and build a fan base, as well as letting fans know about upcoming work, book signings etc. I have also seen visual artists using this approach, tweeting about art in progress etc.



I think the problem with social media programs is inherent in their name. What they should really be called, in order to work their best, is social media commitments. It's not enough for a client to spend money on an agency to build all these relationships and then after genuine success, abandon these newly formed bonds. Abandonment is a strong word, but, then again, weren't the relationships cut short just as strong?

Given that, the best programs are ones which have planned a sustainable approach, one which is easily transferred from the power of the agency to the client. It's not easy. Consider the connections you make with people on Twitter. You follow them, RT, and @ reply because of THEIR voice and your ongoing relationship to that specific person. Now, imagine if that person was from a paid agency, and the program, having met its goals, ended. Would you still follow them, RT, and @ reply if their voice was no longer theirs, but an entirely different person all together? Not likely.

This is SOCIAL media, not brand media. We fall for the personalities and insights of THE PEOPLE behind the twitter handle, blog logos, and brand names. So, before putting any client into a social media program, they need to know that just like in real life, when you start acting differently or, even worse, ignoring someone completely, your "friends" will move on without you--your relationship will be in the past.

It was called the golden rule for a reason: "Do unto others as you'll have done unto you." As long as a brand starts thinking, not from the perspective of a brand, but from the perspective of a person, that rule will take them far in social media.