Last week, Nina and I participated in Social Media Week. For the uninitiated, Social Media Week is a worldwide event where people come together to learn how to communicate effectively through social media. 36,000 people attended 1,050 events in 12 cities across the world; another 150,000 people participated online. The event itself is proof of social media’s ability to connect and spark conversations.
Together, Nina and I attended 14 Social Media Week talks and seminars. We got a lot out of the sessions, so we thought we’d share our favorite takeaways with you.
An example of a Google+ hangout from one of the many Google commercials that make me cry.
Google+ has some great features for brands.
I will admit to being very late to the Google+ party, if only because it seems like the party hasn’t gotten so…hopping yet. My personal Google+ stream consists of one person who actually posts.
However, I wish more people were on Google+ because it has some great toys I would love to try out on a brand audience. The Circles feature would be invaluable for a brand—I’d be able to create different circles for different audiences, and then share messages that would appeal specifically to those groups.
Amy Ravit Korin, a Google+ Local Regional Community Manager Lead at Google, also suggested Hangouts as a great way to get your company’s leaders in front of your audience. While you can only have 9 people in a Hangout at a time, other people can watch the Hangout live, and you can then share the video on your YouTube channel. What a handy way to have your top peeps share their expertise without throwing a kink in their busy schedules.
Think like a normal person, not an advertiser.
My favorite session of the week was entitled, “Your Social Media Activation and the World at Large: AKA – Why the F#$* Should We Care?” The speaker, Richard Goldsmith of R/GA Chicago, pointed out what should be obvious to all us marketers—we’re not normal. We like brands. We’re interested in what Tide is doing on Facebook and we care about Nordstrom’s Pinterest strategy.
Normal people don’t want to interact with brands on social media unless you bribe them. Really, would you like an airline page or post a picture of you enjoying a refreshing Fanta unless there was a coupon or contest involved? Said a man in a video played during the event, “There’s not really a brand where I’m sitting around thinking, ‘Post something so I can like it on Facebook!’”
So what can you do to make people legitimately interested in what your brand’s doing on Facebook and Twitter? The trick is creating campaigns that allow people to share their stories. Since normal people don’t care about your brand, you need to talk about things they really do care about.
A great example from the session: Lawry’s Dinner Bell app, which taps into something people actually care about (having dinner with their families) and solves a problem for participants (a fun way to get your fam to come to the table). Though the app reflects the Lawry’s brand, the focus is on the people using the app. Think about how much more engaging this is than asking people to share their photo with a thing of Lawry’s seasoning.
I attended a session led by Emerson Spartz, the CEO of Spartz Media and the kid who founded the most popular Harry Potter fan site, MuggleNet. He had lots of entertaining stories about what it’s like to become a mogul at age 12, but he taught us one especially useful lesson: always include photos when you’re posting on Facebook. Facebook ranks photos very highly in the algorithm it uses to determine how many of your friends/likers your content is shared with.
Understand what you want social media to do for your company.
Don’t just jump on the social media bandwagon without a mission in mind. Have a direct purpose. For instance, are you joining Facebook and Twitter to network, meet potential clients, start a conversation, etc.? Taking the time to realize your desired outcome will help shape what social media channels you use and how you use them.
Always remember that social media is about people.
It’s easy to forget the true purpose of social media when there is so much a brand can do while using it. But oftentimes brands forget their purpose and use social media to sell, sell, sell—instead of talk, listen, share.
Nobody wants to follow a company or like a Facebook page that seems to only care about themselves. If you want people to follow you, like you, listen to you, etc., you have to give them a reason. Whether it’s intriguing content, stimulating discussion or a funny story—using social media is about communicating with people, not products.
Know your audience.
When trying to encourage communication through your social media channels, it’s important to understand who you’re talking to. Take the time to listen and learn from what your audience is saying. Who do they follow? What do they care about? Understanding their likes and dislikes will help you reach them on a more personal level. Reading their blog posts and comments, following their links and likes and learning about their common interests are great ways to improve your brand/audience engagement.
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