Create Unique Content for Every Platform

Create unique content for every platform you decide to engage in. Too many brands and agencies get lazy and use the same piece of content for everything. We need to provide content to consumers when, where and how they want to consume it.

As different as each platform is with time spent, visual capabilities, sharing, reach, etc. why would you think one piece of content is the best idea for all platforms? There are many excuses but none are valid.

Let’s list the reasons why we should not:
• Optimum length of type for each platform is not the same
• How images are displayed in the timeline
• How images and videos are viewed in platform
• Life expectancy of a post in each platform
• Fans don’t need to follow all platforms to get all the content
• Some people are Facebook users or Twitter users (or any other outlet)
• Those users do not consume content in the same way
• If a post fails it fails everywhere
• Social allows you to be far more targeted in efforts
• Budget to amplify for reach cannot be there if budget to create content is not

Reasons to do it:
• Lack of resources to create content
• Client “loves that post”

The reasons to do it are weak at best. If you do not have resources to produce content for all platforms you should back up. Win where you can. Choose the main 1-3 platforms you really need to be in. Then look at the others as next in line when, and if, budgets and assets allow you expand. It is better to do 1 great than it is to do 5 poorly. Use those on the outside for tactical executions for a campaign or always-on storyline. Test a d learn with them. You may find they need to move up the ladder of importance or you may conform they are where they need to be.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. You can reach out below or on Twitter.

Create Unique Content for Every Platform

When Does a Brand Have the Right to Post?

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.

When Does a Brand Have the Right to Post?

Keeping Up With Social Platform Changes

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
Twitter has many. This is the Advertising version.

Vine

Facebook

Instagram

Tumblr

Pinterest

YouTube

Snapchat

LinkedIn

Google

Keeping Up With Social Platform Changes

Is Your Brand a Target on Social Media?

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.

Is Your Brand a Target on Social Media?

Humans Connect With Humans … Not Logos.

This concept is such and integral part ot a robust social strategy. Social media began with the concept of human connection. 

Many brands still look at social as another medium simialr to the traditional broadcast channels. A one-way message. Another way to bark out their tagline or latest slogan in hopes that consumers all over are just waiting to hear from them. 
 
Of course we are trying to sell something. We all know that. The agency does and the consumer does. Why else would a major brand spend money on something. So stop with the horrible CTA’s that embarrass your brand and insult the consumer. Instead engage in conversation. 
 
Humanizing your brand is a scary thing. Who would your brand be? One person? But we have 5 target segments that we sell to. They range in age from 18 to dead. How can one voice work here? 
 
It can. You will need to begin with what the role of social is in your marketing mix. Is it to win back consumers you have lost for some reason? Is it to change your brand image? There are infinite possibilities but the one you choose needs to define your ROI. 
 
Does your voice need to be a peer to the community or a leader? Does your audience respond better to their friend giving advice or a subject-matter expert? Your research has told you, I’m sure.
 
Once you come to this you will know what attributes this person needs. How often would they respond? Do they drop in an “LOL” or no way. Think of them as a real person. Give them a name. Everyone that touches social needs to understand them. They should ask, “Would Jane say that?” And it should be very obvious when Jane should not say that.  
Humans Connect With Humans … Not Logos.

Life of a Social Media Post

In the world we live in there are countless potentials for social engagements. There are the “big guys” of the social world such as YouTube, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Then, depending on audience, we have Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and Tumblr. And let’s not forget the “new guys” brands and agencies are ecperimenting with such as Snapchat. All of these posts have a lifespan. And we should account for that in our social strategies to begin with and then in our content calendars when time. 

It’s pretty easy to figure out the lifespan when you stop and think. YouTube, Pinterest and Tumblr have the longest. In some cases these posts may be evergreen. These platforms are made for finding and collecting thoughts. Search and repurposing is easy and the standard.

When content ties to a campaign they may be far more time stamped. Even still, we should have a mix of Posts, Boards and Playlists that are there to be used for a very long time. They should be relevant when posted but may resurface in a few months to get some new attention. That may happen due to a product taking off, or a paid endorser finding a spotlight or because an unpaid influencer comes across it and introduces it to their social circles. This is social gold.

Some ideas we use when thinking about this are larger stories. Overall brand stories. What overall business goals or pillars does all of your marketing work towards? What is core to your sales or image? Incorporate them into the always-on calendar and build a war chest of go-to content. And keep adding to this list. LTO’s come and go and are critical to the bottom line. But overall company goals typically are far more important.

Fleeting thoughts are the norm of social and usually the most glamorous. Use the long-term content to build a base for those channels. Have these assets for community managers to link to when asked questions. And show up in search when the time is right.

Life of a Social Media Post

Transparency in Social Media

Transparency is very often talked about in the context of social media but rarely is it present in brand activity and community management. 

So what is the right level of transparency? That has been the big question lately. In the beginning of social, brands ignored the bad chatter and unwanted questions. Now that is not acceptable. There are too many ways for that message to be found. You all have been there or, at least, seen it happen.

Take a look at a service-industry brand’s Twitter feed. It is nauseating how many times they say “sorry.” But that doesn’t correct the problem or make the consumer feel better.

True transparency is telling them exactly what happened and then working towards a solution that works for both sides. Rarely will you get perfection but most every time you will get respect. Respect of the consumer as a person is the critical concept here. The consumer understands that perfection is not an option. They want to be heard and feel they are important enough to engage in conversation. Also, consider the idea that if one person has this problem odds are that hundreds of others have too. You addressing it with them shows the others you are a responsive and “human” brand. This, over time, creates advocates that will come to your defense in the social world.

Brands too often act as if they are perfect. We know this is never the case. They are assembled with humans and in that humans trying to impress their boss and make everything seem perfect. So for them to suggest guilt or fault is tough.

There are brands who use transparency as a core value. One of them is Zappos.com. The concept comes easy to them. Company culture facilitates honesty and human relationships. They are a customer-service brand that happens to sell shoes and apparel. If you are ever in Downtown Las Vegas you need to take the cultural tour. I say it’s worth planning a trip specifically for it if you are a manager of people or a brand.

At the end of my rant I am not suggesting we can all be 100% transparent right now. There are business situations where this will not be possible. However, small steps now can lead to that potential catastrophe being dealt with in a different way a year or 2 from now. And those small steps without a doubt will build customer loyalty now.

Transparency in Social Media

Social Media is like a Dinner Party

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.

Social Media is like a Dinner Party

Is Failure An Option?

I have been reading so many social posts and articles saying, “Fail hard and fail fast” and every time I scratch my head.

I work in advertising. Failure is not easily digested. Even when a client suggests we “test and learn” we all know we must test something that has a great probability of succeeding. With this the upside isn’t as high as if we take an idea with huge upside and really put effort behind it. That effort includes finding the right place on the calendar, the right partners and a fair amount of budget for production and amplification.

I have engaged on Twitter with many people on this topic. It seems to me this “rebellious” concept is better suited for the startup and inventor world. There you need to get to proof of concept and raise funds to take it to scale. Failure there seems to be black and white. Your concept is a game changer or it’s an also ran. Marketing has so much grey area.

In the agency world is is difficult reporting a “fail” to a client. But no more that a client has presenting up the ladder. So maybe we reset this thought. Maybe it’s one of those passing fads that agency people grabbed onto for a while and will let it go. I have.

Is Failure An Option?

Storytelling in Social Media

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.

 

Storytelling in Social Media