One of the best parts of my job is to interview people. I love meeting them and understanding what motivates them and hearing about their experiences. I am a firm believer that employers need to provide the top candidates a position where they can win as individuals. And then the team, agency and client can win.
Back to the resume. This is typically the first thing we as employers see from you. To be even more specific, in a large agency setting, it’s typically a recruiter that sees it. So what do they look for? Could be previous agencies and brands. Could be projects. Maybe even coming from a certain market gives you cred. All of that is great.
But what I will suggest is that you tell us a story. After all you are talking to me about a role on the social team. That whole effort is about telling stories. Use those skills. Too may times i get resumes that list out one’s skills that include Excel or Facebook or whatever. Those are table stakes in the world we live in. Really, they are. Use this super-short time you have my attention to wow me. Tell me something about a project or you that is cool. Excel is not cool.
Let me know what role you really played in the process. The younger you are the more right you have to be honest and say you were not the lead but had some great builds and were important in the ways you could be. Of course, the bigger the title, the more those stories should be about leading and innovating. But be honest. Nothing worse than a fake-ish resume that gets you in the door or on the phone and it’s a head shake and the “not qualified” email to the Recruiter.
A few times now I have heard someone ask if I/we have BtoB social experience. In a way I get that. Clients always want to find people and agencies with relative experience. However, in the social world my belief is that is not the question one should be asking.
After all, there is an active social conversation happening about nearly every possible topic. So how do we engage in that? How do we provide content and information that is relevant, interesting and constant to that community? Whether they are making business decisions or personal decisions they want to have a discussion.
As always, one needs to decide why you are spending time and money in social. If it is to connect with decision makers in the business world consider where they want to have these conversations. And what type of content can tell your story best?
For example a BtoB play may have a Twitter play to engage in conversation. There could be LinkedIn content in your calendar for paid reach and targeting. This is longer content than Twitter and can should be very specific to the business goals. Next there should/could be a YouTube effort. Creating content in here gives you many benefits. It helps by telling the story exactly like you want it told due to video. It is the second largest search engine behind Google Search. And Google indexes this before most all other content and gives it a higher “rating” due to it being video content. Speaking of search, there should be a Google+ page. This is also indexed immediately and given preferential treatment by Google Search. Links to dot com order pages or location pages are always great to pepper in your calendar. Repurposing good content from other platforms is acceptable. Next level and usually more intimidating than even YouTube is a blog. Creating long form content for brands has always been difficult. But can the agency do it? Maybe you need to hire subject matter experts to do it on your behalf.
Notably missing from the list is Facebook. It may or may not be relevant. There is no advertising platform available that can give you more data on the consumer or potential consumer than Facebook. They can target like nobody else and they can give reach in scale that very few can. Consider the context for the target. If, in general, they use this to share kid photos and connect with relatives this is likely not the place to sell them on how awesome your widget can be for their fleet. And keep in mind this will cost. Facebook organic reach is essentially at zero now. So a budget is needed.
I suggest giving different levels of possible engagement. In sequence from above it would be Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a blog. Move the consumer up the ladder of content consumption. Help them and make the life easier or better. Tell them stories that you want but make sure it is relative to them and not a big-company message that you bark out.
As with all marketing efforts decide on KPIs. Set goals and run towards them. Use micro and macro insights to adapt. There are infinite possibilities but typically they should ramp up to business objectives.
So after the whole rant I come back to connecting and story telling. The question that should be asked is, “how do we connect with the target in an already-active social community?” Stop getting hung up on the industry or the product. If you are willing to engage in conversation there is a place for you and your brand in social media.
I am amazed at times at what brands feel appropriate to post about and engage in on social channels.
A solid strategy should outline what you should be posting about. That should be places you can make emotional connections to an already-active social community in and around your product, offering or service. Anything outside of that is strategically off base.
Holidays seem to be the times where every brand feels they need to give a shout out. Because everyone appreciates a good “Happy Holidays” from a hotel chain or a clothing company. We all know this comes from a sincere spot in the company’s heart, right?
Even more interesting are the times that a tragedy defines a day. #BostonStrong was a social movement that most everyone remembers. For many it made them, personally, feel better to engage in it by using the hashtag. It made the country smaller. We all cared about that city and wanted Bostonians to know we were behind them and proud of how they acted. How does a brand feel that way? A brand that may have a store or few in the city. A brand that may sell things there. But really? Is that the right time or place for a company that is obviously in social channels for marketing to make a statement? I say no way.
The trend extends into the urge for brands to be relevant in the moment. Twitter is where most of this happens. Community managers cannot fight the urge to dive in on Trending Topics. Many times not knowing what they stand for or who “should” be engaging in conversation.
Case in point is #WhyIStayed. When the spotlight was pointed to the issue of domestic violence many use this as a platform to help themselves and others. To help them have a discussion about what happened to them and why they stayed. The point I am trying to make is not anything about how that played out but the fact that mistakes were made by brands trying to engage. Below is the DiGiorno mistake. The brand manager had no idea what it stood for and dove in. Crazy-bad mistake. But this is a trend.
#WhyIStayed – Digiorno http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/digiorno-whyistayed-you-had-pizza#cgwnf2
So I ask all of you brands to stay in your lane. Talk about what is relevant to you AND your consumer. Stay in the place where you have expertise and can be of use to them. That is not in #BostonStrong or 9/11 or breast cancer. The only caveat is if you are DIRECTLY tied to those causes.
So many times I am asked by coworkers and clients about the best way to keep up on the platforms and their ever-changing ways. The way to do it is through their blog.
Every major platform has a blog and they update it frequently with their updates and improvements. Below are the links. I suggest you add them to your favorites and check them regularly.
You can use these to learn and be the hero when updating clients.
#ProTip: many of them are Tumblr based. Use the +follow to have them show up in your Tumblr feed.
Twitter has many. This is the Advertising version.
There are brands out there that have haters. And in the world we live in there are forums for anyone and everyone to voice their opinion.
Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds and blog posts everywhere can easily become a tornado of comments attacking something a company has done that John or Jane Doe doesnt believe in. Could be the how they make their product, or who they hire or the religious beliefs of senior management. All are very important issues that people have every reason to discuss and voice their opinion. Does that mean the brand should not enage in social media?
I say no way. I say the brand should use this forum to tell the world what they are up to. To actively engage in conversation with fans and haters alike. Of course there are lines one does not cross for enagement. If a person goes on a personal attack, uses profanity or really doesn’t have a factual point but is just out to get attention.
All community managers and brands should have an escalation process set for when things go south. Determining that line is the first step. Then who is ccontacted and what is the rating system for urgency. If a comment is made on Facebook that is uncomfortable and not factual, maybe that’s a 1 out of 3. If there is a threat or even a reported issue in a reatail situation that could be a 3. A 3 may mean the CMO is contacted and they use their judgement for who to contact. Every system is different and needs to be developed per client. But there needs to be one.
That’s the downside. The upside is that, with proper strategy and execution, you should be creating a story the social community wants to engage in. The positive conversation should eventually overpower the negative. When you develop your place in the community it is very likely that community will come to your defense when the random haters go on attack.
But let’s be honest with ourselves. If your brand has this possibility you know it. Don’t insult the social community by posting content that is not believable. Determine what you can own. What you can contribute to the community and what they want to know about you. Determine the voice you should be saying this in. Use this for the content you post and how your community managers engage. Your voice may be the most important part of your social strategy.
Imagine finding a new friend at work. This friend is excited to add you to their list for an upcoming dinner party. You can’t imagine the people you will meet. Your new friend seems like she has an interesting background. Maybe has similar hobbies or maybe her partner does. So you mark it on your calendar, buy a bottle of wine or small gift and look forward to the night.
The night of the party arrives. You knock on the door. She opens. There’s smiles around. Maybe a hug or a handshake. Others are mingling and laughing. You walk in the middle and up to a group and say, “Don’t you like my brand and wouldn’t you like to buy my widget right now? Or can I show you the new TV spot we finished on YouTube? Or you should sign up for this email list.” Come on. Imagine if you did that. Better yet, imagine if someone did that to you. You would find every way to talk to someone else and likely about that person. So don’t do that in social media.
Social media is an already-active community that has billions of people with hundreds of times that number of topics. Engage with those people and understand they are not there because they are dying to consume your message. Create interesting content that will give them a smirk or a piece of information. Engage in small conversations that over time “build a friendship.” They know you are posting on this platform, and others, because you have a product or service to sell.
The long play will be far more fruitful and actually open you up to so many more social stories and types of content you can engage in. And hopefully, you have friends who, through social media, invite their friends to your dinner party.
Since the beginning of time stories have been part of human’s lives. I imagine a good hunting story around the fire about how that Giant Mammoth got away was commonplace. Religious beliefs were passed along through stories before being written down. Every time friends and family get together there are stories told.
So why is it most brands have issue when it comes to telling stories in social media? It happens all the time in “traditional media.” Why is it that the series of Facebook posts for a month can be so scattered? Or an under-performing product post is dropped in the calendar? Because it’s easy to say “why not?” if you don’t know what your voice is and what story you are trying to tell.
To be specific, one doesn’t need to tell one story at a time. You can have different things going on and should. We don’t appreciate that aunt that says the same thing every time you see her and we won’t appreciate if a brand does it. Stories do need to be tied into an overall goal of the brand. This is how we define “The Role of Social”. The role of social can be as simple as making the brand cooler. It can be specific to an audience. It can be anything that is tied into ROI set for social.
The easiest way to decide on what stories to tell happens best at a dry-erase board. Start by writing things down that your brand should and can own. Overall thoughts and insights from knowledge of your consumer. Is it that they have an affinity for your brand because it reminds them of their childhood? Or even better, does it remind them of their childhood and their grandparents? Work that. Give them content that can take them to that place for even a minute. A series of these posts over time will put a smile on their face and likely a deeper affinity to your product or service. Build on the story and see where it goes. Are you getting engagement? If so, keep it going. If not, add in another story. We have clients with 5 stories going at one time. We, also, have clients with a couple.
When you have the stories decided the next thing is the story arc. Where are you in the beginning and where do you want to be in a few weeks or a month? Outline it or even write a brief so you can have it in hand and introduce it to anyone that wants to contribute content. In our case that’s a creative person. In another case it could be a product manager down the hall that wants to add in content.
As you launch this story keep an eye on the performance and be critical. If it doesn’t “work” kill it and go another direction. We need to provide content in an already-active social world. Consumers don’t care what we want to tell them. They want something to make their day easier, better or more fun.
In the end, consider your social media as a dinner party. You want to meet the people around you and have small engagements that build over time into a friendship. You don’t want to shake their hand and immediately ask them to buy something. Well, at least you shouldn’t. Tell them a story and make them smile or think about something in a different way.