Social media for business is becoming more and more pervasive. As new social networks are introduced and the average age of Facebook and Twitter users increases, ‘traditional’ social networks become an online marketplace for business-to-consumer and business-to-business interactions. For native users of social media, this transformation is met with mixed reviews. Lots of consumers enjoy having a forum to engage with the brands they invest in…at any given moment, your organization’s customers are taking part in a dialogue around your brand. Whether or not you choose to engage is an important facet of your digital strategy.
The other side of effective social dialogue that takes place around specific brands is the unfortunate eventuality that many businesses who don’t have a strong understanding of what affects positive engagement in an online social environment tend to use their platforms as a tireless digital megaphone, blasting the same promotions and superficial messages through cyberspace at regular intervals. As quickly becomes apparent, this is not the way to inspire influencers to take part in a meaningful dialogue around your brand. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. Potential customers become frustrated with the lack of meaningful content that stems from your digital presence and this inspires a much more negative discourse around a company’s brand.
If marketing in the age of New Media has taught us anything, it’s that when Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message,” he wasn’t kidding around. It’s not what you say, necessarily, but how you say it. Content marketing encompasses most facets of online advertising – social media promotion, especially. In order for your brand to mean something to people when they recognize it, it’s essential to cultivate a positive association with your online identity. This is accomplished through creating content that edifies the user in some way. Many companies don’t quite understand this concept – why should I spend time creating a piece of advertising that has no immediate, direct affect on my bottom line? Content marketing and social networking for business, when done well, involve a commitment to strengthening your brand and inspiring a social dialogue around your online identity by means of enriching, unique content; the end result is an increased audience and strengthened brand equity that goes hand-in-hand with establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and a resource for potential customers seeking answers about your particular product or service.
That said, there is still a stigma attached to using social media to market an idea, cause, business…the list goes on. The reality is, though, that social media as an educational tool, a way of blasting a meaningful message to a widespread audience, has been used for some pretty incredible things. Namely, cause marketing. Marketing for a cause via social media is something that a business can take part in, an individual can jumpstart or an NGO can avail of to get the word out to a much more diverse range of influencers than is possible through traditional media.
In 1999, an Australian news channel aired a story about how a group of men from Adelaide came up with an idea at the pub one night – they would get the men in their community involved in an initiative to raise money for prostate cancer awareness…they would grow moustaches in the month of November.
Movember was born.
Beginning with 80 men from Adelaide, Australia, through the power of New Media and digital crowd funding, the initiative has exploded into a global phenomenon, to date raising over $170 million for prostate cancer awareness. Without social media marketing and digital storytelling, this would have undoubtedly been impossible. But, Movember is here to stay. All over the world, throughout the month of November, men grow interesting facial hair and solicit donations for this cause. Corporations and small businesses get involved, creating pages on the Movember site and campaigning to make a difference.
Now, I can’t say that you’re social campaign for a cause will take off in the way Movember did. But, here are a few steps to ensure an effective foray into cause marketing with social media:
Image Source: www.granitebrewery.ca/movember-is-coming/
As a social media coordinator, it’s become important for me to surround myself with a network of people who understand what it means to work in a form of mass media that’s still evolving.
It’s not easy. Despite what many people think, managing social media takes a lot of commitment. You’re basically attached to your phone and ‘time off’ doesn’t really exist. Even when you’re technically off the clock, if user interaction happens and no one responds…yikes. It’s pretty much a disaster.
Here are the top five questions I get asked on a regular basis, working in social media (this is, by no means, an exaggeration):
1. Aren’t you paid to go on Facebook all day? Not quite, no.
2. How do I get verified on Twitter? I have no idea…ask Justin Bieber or Richard Dawkins, I guess.
3. What do you do again? Deep sigh
4. Isn’t Twitter just for letting people know what you ate for lunch? Well, you might think that…but, surprisingly, there’s a bit more to it.
5. But you only have, like, 200 Facebook friends…how is that possible? My work isn’t my life! …Scratch that, yes it is.
That said… it’s kind of understandable why not everyone really ‘gets’ social media yet. It’s due, in part, to it being a new faction of PR and marketing, in part to the constantly evolving nature of social media marketing and in part to what myself and a couple social mediavore friends have decided is a distinct gap in the market—wide-reaching, comprehensive, reporting tools that you DON’T have to pay for.
Call me crazy, but I think that the statistics from the social media campaign that you manage, toil over, stress about…should be free! The day someone comes up with a free report aggregator is the day my death certificate will read “happiness.” Of course, if you’re outsourcing your social media to a PR agency, you’re in good hands. Chances are, they’ve sprung for some fancy-schmancy social media dashboard that provides custom reports and you can avail of their expertise…for a price, of course.
But, if you’re a small-business owner, an entrepreneur, or a freelance social media strategist with limited funds to splurge on extravagant ROI reports with branded headers, don’t despair. With a little bit of extra diligence, you can measure your social media’s output and intake and view how that directly affects your campaign—for better or worse.
Let’s take it platform by platform, shall we?
Facebook has these great things called ‘insights.’ Upon first glance, maybe they seem a little intimidating…graphs and charts and whatnot. I know lots of people who manage their own Facebook pages make one of two mistakes. They (A) don’t pay attention to their insights at all or (B) put WAY too much stock in their insights and have an aneurysm every time the squiggly blue line that shows engagement dips below average.
Neither of these is constructive. A measured approach is best, as with all things. Here are the top three (according to me) things you should pay attention to when it comes to Facebook insights:
I don’t know why, but I kind of love LinkedIn insights. I always feel like they have good news for me. Granted, they’re pretty new…here are a few things to pay particular attention to:
Note: There’s a section of LinkedIn analytics that shows you “how you compare” against other organizations in your niche. I mean…it’s ok to take a look at that, but don’t get too hung up, especially if you’re just starting out. Focus on what’s best for you and your existing followers, post interesting content and engage regularly. Getting fixated on how you stack up isn’t productive.
Your Twitter page doesn’t have the same kind of built-in analytics as LinkedIn or Facebook. But, don’t despair! Use Twitter Counter! Some features are ‘premium’ (read: you have to pay for them), but you can track followers, Tweet interaction, and ‘milestones.’ You can even compare stats from multiple Twitter accounts for free! It’s a great tool, and one I only started to use recently.
Now, to produce a DIY report for your files, screenshot is your best friend. Take snaps of your stats; combine them into a PDF and save them on a regular basis. Trust me—having records of your progress will save you digging later on, help you evolve your strategy and, should you decide to hire a social media consultant as your business grows, they’ll be very grateful for the ready-made insight.
So, there you have it. Get cracking. Don’t sweat the small stuff and know enough to filter in the useful information: the keys to effective DIY social media strategy analysis.
The concept of creating a viral video for a viral marketing campaign has been a bee in my bonnet ever since I started in social media marketing. The truth is: it’s impossible to develop a video and know, with 100% certainty, that it will go viral. You could have a million-dollar budget, the best creative minds in the industry and still not achieve true virality.
But, in order for me to make my point, we have to take a few steps back and examine the nature of viral marketing, its history and why everyone seems to think there’s an ‘art’ or a ‘formula’ in creating a truly viral campaign.
A viral video is typically uploaded to a platform like YouTube or Vimeo and becomes popular because thousands, even millions, of people share it, interact with it, talk about it, and love it. Check out some popular examples here:
Virality is a digital extension of word-of-mouth marketing, which has long been considered the most powerful form of passing information and generating ‘buzz.’
This commonly held conception isn’t wrong! And, there are definite ways for an organization to take advantage of online word-of-mouth buzz in their marketing material. In fact, it’s what every campaign should aim for. Collective interest in a digital recapturing of word-of-mouth marketing is the reason why social media for business has become so widespread over the past five years or so. It’s the new word-of-mouth.
Creating a viral video is very attractive for a number of reasons, all boiling down to two key motivators: fame and money.
A handful of the most famous celebrities in popular culture today were born out of YouTube success. This, in turn, made them very wealthy. Even YouTube celebrities who don’t extend their act into other forms of mainstream media can be remunerated for their stroke of luck. YouTube compensated the parents of “David After Dentist” about $100,000 for their video’s success.
From a marketing standpoint, being the mind behind a viral campaign is an alluring prospect. In effect, many creative marketers use it as a benchmark for having championed the Internet, so to speak. At their core, most online platforms exist now to sell us things.
Whether we’re buying them by actually, physically purchasing them or buying into the idea through sharing it with our network of connections…we’re all digital consumers. Actualizing a viral video means whoever created it manipulated the selling power of the Internet to the highest degree. This is why a viral promo video is the digital white whale for so many creative marketing departments.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter…these platforms all have advertising. You can create a reasonable facsimile of a viral video by promoting it through social advertising. This has its benefits. If you pour enough money into advertising, you can generate thousands of views for your video and that looks really good when organic viewers stumble upon it.
It lends your brand credibility and brings a certain caché to your campaign. However, in my opinion, true virality is an intertwining of organic and viral: videos that take off on their own steam, with minimal promotion, simply because they speak to a majority of people…those are the truly viral videos. They have the most impact, create the most buzz and are the most elusive to content creators.
The Viral Myth stems from the widely held belief that you can harness the power of social networking and word-of-mouth marketing to blast something into cyberspace on an instantaneously global scale; that, using state of the art technology, psychology and creative juice, you can tap into people’s emotions, their will to learn, their very idea of themselves to catapult your YouTube video into astronomical success overnight.
Viral videos are successful because of certain compelling elements—aspects that tap into viewers’ need to share, their sense of common experience. No one can predict these hooks. If I were to guess, they’re most dependent on the widespread climate according to current affairs; what the major, international news stories are and how people are reacting to them. To forecast this type of sentiment requires more intuitive tools than I (or, I’d venture to guess, ANY creative digital marketing person) have in my arsenal.
A more realistic, attainable goal is, instead of setting out to make something viral, aim for impactful. You can still incorporate creative, emotional, and educational elements…just don’t do it for the sake of going viral. The worst thing about so many marketing campaigns now is that you can just tell they’re only making promo videos for the sake of going viral.
It’s as predictable as some of Stephen King’s more recent work…. you know, when he started writing books with movie scripts in mind. Let’s be honest–’Dreamcatcher’ vs. ‘Shawshank’? The quality is incomparable.
Lately, the message is secondary to the viral potential. Believe it or not, when you’re trying to predict which psychological triggers, which lame jokes and which crazy graphics will resonate with millions of people, you aren’t focusing on strengthening your brand. Like the Brad Pitt Chanel commercial, for instance:
I mean, obviously they would get a ton of views because A) It’s Brad Pitt and B) It’s Chanel. But is this a truly viral campaign? I don’t think so. I really don’t. It was discussed on popular talk shows. But, that’s because it was ridiculous. They weren’t on message and they were reaching. They were trying to create something dauntless…a testament to their company’s insight, their ability to gauge what gives people the shivers. But, his looming, vainglorious face was just unsettling. And it was so obvious they were just trying to go viral! They’re selling a woman’s perfume, for God’s sake and they used a man! Perhaps the most recognizable man in the world. Instead of skillfully crafting a message embedded in a clever, resonant ad campaign, they went for broke and artistically flopped.
Of course, Chanel isn’t the only guilty company, but this is a good example of how even huge multinationals can miss the mark when their only marketing goal is creating something viral. I think the most effective marketing campaigns, the ones that really deliver, are the ones that are tailored to a specific audience for a product. Well-rounded market research and thoughtful, targeted creative will yield the most impressive results. If the message is genuine and people relate to it…I think you may have a better chance of appealing to a larger common denominator, thus increasing your viral potential. A classic case of finding something when you aren’t looking.
Image Source: Gilbert Wilson, Moby Dick Arises from the Deep