Five things that work in social media

Robert Collins, who organized this month's SMB17, my Stacie Kinzer inspired Tweent, a metaphor for social media, and me

Yesterday I joined Aaron Strout, CMO at Powered, Kyle Flaherty, Director of Marketing for Breaking Point Systems, and Host Robert Collins at Social Media Breakfast Boston. I know what you’re thinking. Not another social media event.  Not the same week in the same city already hosting two social media conferences.

However, the good news is that we’re no longer talking about platforms.  No more presentations about Twitter and how to build a following. No more lectures about how we have to listen first and “join the conversation.” Instead, we talked about stuff you can accomplish, for your brand and business.  We suggested ways to inspire and mobilize a community, not just trick them into following you.  And, I hope, we reminded people that the end game isn’t being in social media, it’s what you do with social media.

I approach social media as both a participant and a marketer. The former is about giving, sharing, engaging and becoming, as Chris Brogan says, a trust agent.  The latter is about making something happen:  learning and engaging,  encouraging participation, generating and distributing content, inventing experiences, mobilizing followers to act.

My presentation was simple:  Five things that work.  Here they are. (On Slideshare you can see the presenter notes for each slide.)

Creating Brand Advocates Part 3 of 3 from EditMe on Vimeo.

Good content works

Too many brands and marketers think all you have to do is be there. Talk, listen, connect. That works, true.  But if you want to generate some buzz, get people talking, call attention to your brand, or simply get your community involved, you need good content.  Even if it’s just a dumb video that your security camera captures.

Inventing an experience works

Put on your own concert, mash up some media, give a party, complete with entertainment. That’s what we did with Brandbowl. This analog to digital event inspired 10,000 people to join us, stimulated conversation and learning, generated lots of content and insight regarding SuperBowl advertising,  and generated over 144 million impression via Twitter and press coverage. It may be a discrete event, but it gave our community something to participate in and remember. Both good reasons to stay members of our community.

Letting people have a voice works

There are two ways to do this. One is to simply let it happen, on Twitter or Facebook. The other is to actually create the platform and invite people to share their voice. Give them the microphone, call attention to their content, celebrate what they have to say. Almost any company could do this with and for its customers on a blog, on Youtube, on a Ning site. We did it for Gen Y’ers with TNGG.

Conceiving ideas that generate content works

I took that label from Faris Yakob; it’s another way of saying, “Get others to tell your story for you.” There are numerous ways to do it. Art of the Trench, Este Lauder’s avatar, the Bread Art Project.  It’s about as simple as you can get, but in the digital age when you can’t buy share of voice (it’s infinite), when your customers want to participate rather than watch, when asking for information yields far more positive response than requesting goods or services, it’s most effective way to increase visibility and turn your community into a medium.

Conversation strategy works

Obviously SoMe is not about broadcasting or farting out messages. It’s about engagement. So get good at it. Forty percent of people in social networks fan or follow a brand and while they do want coupons and incentives, a bigger reason is that they are customers (they like you, don’t let them down) and are hoping you’ll provide them with useful or entertaining content. Good place to start: one-third questions and conversation; one-third useful content; one-third a little bit of selling,  And don’t be there every day.  You’ll bore them.

Oh, and let me not forget the magic formula, inspired by Stacie Kinzer’s Tweenbots: Break things down into small pieces so people will help. Give community members psychic reward for participating and contributing. Trust the community. Don’t be afraid to ask. Smile, be optimistic and be passionate. It’s contagious.

Anyway, as always, here’s the presentation, complete with notes. Hope you’ll share your ideas for what works, too.  Thanks for reading and participating.  And for joining us at SMB17.

18 comments
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Epic
Epic

Social media is one of the easiest way to incorporate your business with your everyday life.
.-= Epic´s last blog ..2009-Business-luncheon-009 =-.

Kelly
Kelly

The most important thing is making social media work for you there is a webinar coming up that addresses this exact issue that I just registered for: http://bit.ly/cR80Al. Looks like it is really going to explore the concepts of social media in the workplace on a different level

Kingsley Tagbo
Kingsley Tagbo

Yes, what you do with social media is the key to successful collaboration and community movements. That's funny that you mention good content coming from a security camera. I know someone that has a security camera business and I am trying to get them to incorporate some social media. The company probably records thousands of video clips every day, but they have no photos or video to promote their own company. I want this to change and help them grow through social media, by using good content and effective strategies. I also like the idea of asking for information. That is one important part of social media I have often overlooked. It's very stimulating for conversations and will create more content in end.
.-= Kingsley Tagbo´s last blog ..NFL Stifling Social Media? =-.

Bryan Person | Social Media Breakfast founder
Bryan Person | Social Media Breakfast founder

Edward: Really enjoyed your presentation last Thursday morning at the SMB. Great case studies, great STORIES that I'll remember, and not so many bullet points on your slides (yay!).

I like your 1/3 x 1/3 x 1/3 formula, though I'd offer some pushback on your suggested every-other-day frequency. One of the goals with a brand's Facebook Page has to be make into their fans'/likers' "Top News" streams. To do that, users have to interact with the content: liking posts, adding a comment, etc. And I'd argue that a post a day, or even 2-3 if they're spread out, helps drive higher engagement without feeling like too much.

The key, as you've noted and mentioned in your talk, is to provide content that isn't only and all about the brand, that's conversational and genuinely interesting, and that provides the fans with psychic rewards for participating and sharing the content with their friends.

Susan Greene
Susan Greene

I like your first point -- "Good content works." Many people don't understand that you have to contribute to the conversation, and you need to have original thoughts. It's not enough to write "Good post" or "LOL." You need to add value any way that you can.

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis

Edward,
Thanks so much for delivering such a wonderful and inspiring presentation at SMB17. Everyone in the room really enjoyed your presentation and who doesn't love to help a tweenbot?

After your presentation I realized that something we work with everyday might be of interest to you and the community at large. We call it the Influence Pyramid, and it's designed to help really dissect and identify the strata in any online or offline community.

Basically, we break down our communities into Digital Influencers, Prosumers and Consumers and make sure that the Brand Journalists generate content that helps speak through the layers of the pyramid instead of around them.

If you have some time take a look and would love to hear your thoughts.
http://blog.tippingpointlabs.com/2010/05/the-influence-pyramid-understanding-and-dissecting-communities/

Sorry, it's a long post. Hope it helps.
Thanks again,
Andrew
.-= Andrew Davis´s last blog ..The Influence Pyramid: Understanding and Dissecting Communities =-.

melinda wax
melinda wax

Edward, your suggested formula of: one-third questions and conversation, one-third useful content, and one-third a little bit of selling, really sounds like my formula for teaching design and management students at Parsons. Maybe it is human nature, making room for individuals and a group to find their own space in the content and conversation with questions, with those questions you get to do a little bit of selling of content & subject while also challenging students/customers to think openly and then come back with the opportunity as they share their thoughts to tie them back into the content. With some courses (especially something like Design and Sustainability) I spend the first half of the semester just convincing the students it is real and worth paying attention to. Slightly different than a client, but once they trust me they begin to trust the content and find themselves excited about what they are doing when they realize they have engaged, but out of their own choice. I am just there to push along the story/content/connection to what they care about, help them pose more interesting and questions and find something of themselves in the process. Also, don’t be there every day, you'll bore them...they quit listening to you if you don't give them space to find something personal in all of it.

But one burning question for me, what if you get a client whose product or service you are not wild about? Or, are you at a point at Mullen that you only choose clients who you can completely support and sell? I'm thinking of how much more personal the advertising/marketing business has become and taking on a client that sold cigarettes, for instance...what happens?

A few years ago a visiting designer at a Parsons lecture was asked this question and when he responded that if the US Military came to him he would view it as a challenge to help them change how they were viewed by the public - all of the students hissed and boo'd - questioner came back with the ethical question, which this guy simply said, I'm in business, I tell stories, I help people tell their stories, everything poses a challenge worth taking on.

With so much emphasis on social value and meaningful connections taking place in art/design education, I wonder where the next generation of designers will land; after working on campaigns for non-profits and programs which involve helping others (case study for students might be the obvious RED campaign).

Just thinking.

melinda

edward boches
edward boches

Bobbie:
I would keep an eye on Pepsi Refresh and the many other efforts that will try and replicate it. Clearly more and more brands, some with sincerity, some just trying to get on the bandwagon, will attempt to use cause marketing to work their way into the hearts and minds of customers.

Interesting that this conversation has migrated from five things, to conversation strategy, to stuff for the community, to social causes.

I'll have to move on to that subject and we can talk about it more. Thanks.

Bobbie Carlton
Bobbie Carlton

The whole conversation around using social media for social good is varied and complex. One interesting aspect of this: while at the SMB, I had the start of a conversation with someone who has a lot of experience with creating social media powered events who hasn't been able to take that experience and directly translate it to business. In other words, what works for a good cause doesn't necessarily work in business. (This gets back to the use of psychic rewards.)
.-= Bobbie Carlton´s last blog ..May Experts =-.

edward boches
edward boches

Melinda:
My answer to this is probably four blog posts. You are the fourth person in the last two weeks to inspire me with what is truly possible with social media, brands and purpose. In fact we have a couple of clients interested in our suggestion that they take one more "we together" kinds of actions.

We have pretty much always taken on clients we believe in, but the range is wide. For example we do some DoD work for JAMRs. It's the military, targeting parents and influencers. But our position, and one the client has always endorsed, is not so much to sell military service but to encourage parents to be involved with their kids' most important life decisions.

Personally, I'd be more opposed to certain fast foods that are wiping out the rain forest and polluting the environment with agri-industrial processes. But we have many different opinions inside our company.

Check out this video with Bogusky. http://www.vimeo.com/11503551 He is moving toward a big sustainable position (despite having marketed BK). And recently, having spoken at a TEDx conference I was introduced to lots of young people who are embracing social media on behalf of causes. In fact I'm working on some ideas now for how to combine with http://thenextgreatgeneration.com. Thanks for engaging and the provocative comment. Good stuff to think about.

Bobbie Carlton
Bobbie Carlton

Great presentation! The magic formula has been magic for Mass Innovation Nights. Every month ten companies come and launch new products and the social media folks (and others) show up to help spread the word. Over the last year we've had 140 products benefit from the WOM our audience is helping to spread while the audience reaps the psychic rewards of helping to promote local companies -- all with great networking to boot. Thanks for pointing me toward a great analogy, the Tweenbots.
.-= Bobbie Carlton´s last blog ..May 12 Innovators – VOTE HERE =-.

David Saxe
David Saxe

Question for ya, Edward. Have you ever recommended that a client actually avoid a certain well-known platform...Twitter, for example?
Your first point rings very true in my experience - amazing the number of brands that are there just to be there. In fact, I'd place the majority in this category. They float out there with no real engagement strategy, dilute their valuable content with aimless posts, and I believe, hurt their brand perception more than help it.
Are there brands that you believe gain by avoiding a platform like Twitter with a very targeted (and limited) purpose?
.-= David Saxe´s last blog ..Why I’m Abandoning Foursquare and Consolidating Platforms =-.

edward boches
edward boches

I always start with the consumer's habits, approach and use of media and technology. I can't think of a reason why a brand or marketer would not be on Twitter. It's a chance to listen, learn, connect, promote and engage with influencers, and be available. Certainly a brand could do the wrong thing, be there for the wrong reason or treat Twitter as a free broadcast medium. That calls for education and re-programming. Agree that aimless posts hurt and are worse than absence. But I try to educate and encourage brands to do the right thing in the space. Adding value, providing service, contributing to community.

Touchyourdream
Touchyourdream

It is right for Social media to be only one of tools through which everyone can accomplish his or her own future dream or goals.

However,you herein mentioned two kinds of roles, such as a participant and a marketer. But I think they had better be reclassified as a creator, a follower, and a marketer.

If so, the key success factors for each role or purpose may be a little different.

I wonder about your opinion.

Thanks for sharing your insightful ideas.
.-= Touchyourdream´s last blog ..Scenario Thinking and Possible Selves =-.

Thom
Thom

Nope no better idea. Just making an observation. Really enjoy the blog and will keep reading.

Thom
Thom

No disrespect intended — I do find all of this phenomenally exciting, but perhaps a tiny bit exhausting.

edward boches
edward boches

Yes it is exhausting. Much of the above, of course, was done by a company and a team of people. As for me, I probably spend two to three hours a day, spread out. Blogging and developing presentations and content is what takes time. But, if you incorporate it into your life, take notes, think about ideas, get stimulated by others, you can do it in two, or even one, hour a day. Much of what I generate is for the agency, clients, new business meetings. I still manage to get home for family dinners, coach little league, hang with my kids. Though they do often ask me to "get off the computer, Dad," so I suppose that's a small problem. Balance is good. It is possible to go overboard and we are all looking at our screens. But you gotta make a living, and you have to stay relevant. If you have a better idea, let me know.

Thom
Thom

My only gripe: Exactly when are all supposed to work, sleep, watch a ballgame, spend time with our families, read fiction (remember that?), and generally live our lives. Question, and please be honest, how many hours a day do you spend on this? 5, 8, 10?

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  1. [...] Of course even in these venues a buyer doesn’t actually get to determine the frequency or relevance of the messages that appear in their streams. Instead, they can only hope that enlightened brands figure out how to stay relevant through the kind of engagement, trial and error and analytics that lead to effective conversation strategy. [...]