Category Archives: Branding

The Storytelling at the Heart of Future Marketing

My thanks to Social Media Today for embedding this video on their post titled 4 ways to prepare a Facebook content plan. That’s a good post, too. Especially this, prepared by Coca Cola, on what they call “passionate storytelling.” regarding future marketing. This is golden.

And what about a company of the size and scope of Coca Cola, one of the grand old brands that made traditional advertising great, a warlord of major media, sharing the intellectual highlights of its new-world thinking?

I’m impressed.

Social Media Action Plan

(Note: This is taken almost entirely from the Industry Word blog on the SBA Community site where I first posted how to make a social media business plan. I like social media action plan better, though, because too many people mistake the phrase ‘business plan’ for a static document that is hard to do and gets forgotten. To me a business plan is about business planning. It stays flexible and becomes the format for regular review and revision. For the sake of not arguing about it, I’m calling this an action plan instead. Tim.)

Online buzz about social media for business owners seems to be moving from “Should I” to “How do I?” I’ve been working on this a lot lately as part of my work on planning, and I’ve developed this process for a specific social media plan for small business:

Start with strategy

Define how your social media serves your business. Usually that’s in the marketing area of the business related to branding and awareness at the top of the marketing funnel, but it can also be focused on other business functions. For example, airlines are using Twitter for customer service, food trucks are using it for delivery by tweeting locations, and consultants use follower and like counts to validate their expertise.

Strategy is focus, so you need to sort through the different social media options. Community management expert Megan Berry of LiftFive in New York says, “Facebook tends to be more personal, so if a product is fun and consumer oriented, then Facebook is really good. Twitter has the advantages of public searches, and business searches, so you can see how much a given topic matters. Google+ is mostly techies, photography, and people who work at Google.” I think of LinkedIn as more about careers than specific businesses, and Pinterest as great for photo collections. You can’t do it all and the fastest road to failure is trying to please everybody, or do anything.

For purposes of illustration, my examples in the rest of this post focus on Twitter and use the terminology of Twitter. That’s just to make the narrative easier to follow.

Add specific tactics

The strategy means nothing without specific tactics. In social media that means making some practical decisions. For sake of illustration, imagine a manufacturer of environmentally better construction materials selling to a local market looking at Twitter. Here are some tactics to work through:

  • What accounts to follow: In our example, of course we’d follow people tweeting about homes, green construction, construction materials, architecture, and the building industry. Maybe also small business, small business management, and local business. Gardening, landscape architecture? We should also follow people representing the old-fashioned methods our green construction replaces, and yes, all of our competitors. And we’d definitely want to follow industry leaders, the best blogs, and media people for our industry.
  • What content to tweet and retweet: In our example we’d tweet about green building, construction, architecture, and homes for sure, to build a content stream that would attract like-minded people. We’d probably also tweet about local events, local businesses, and local people to attract local connections. But we would never offer content promoting the old-fashioned ways or our competition. We would set up programmed searches for hashtags like #green and #greenbuilding, #homes, and #greenhomes.  (Hashtags are a Twitter feature people use to aid searching for topics. People offering content include them in their tweets, so people searching can find them).
  • What to watch out for: We should set up searches to catch any mention of us especially, of course. Also, mentions of our competitors, substitutes or competing products, and (as much as possible) local building issues.
  • When to reach out: We’d want to watch for media people and issues that could create media opportunities for us, like interviews with the founder, or reviews in blogs or trade magazines. Reaching out in Twitter means either tweets mentioning specific handles or direct messages to specific people.
  • How to reach out: We’d want to reach out correctly and respectfully, only for specific cases and specific people. Direct messages should ever look or feel or act like spam.

Add Specific Metrics, Milestones, and Tracking

Your strategy and tactics are of no use without concrete specific steps, measurements, and tracking.

In our Twitter-oriented green construction materials example, we’d want set objective and trackable numeric targets for how many:

  • accounts to follow
  • new follows to add each month
  • tweets per day, week, and month
  • retweets to send
  • retweets we want to receive
  • followers we expect to add per month
  • leads we should get
  • web visits tracking from our tweets, retweets, and Twitter profile

And for our review meetings, we’d want to start with actual numbers for each of these measurements. Then we’d review these results and discuss changes to the metrics, tactics, and strategy.

And that, all together, is a plan.

5 Steps for Dealing with Social Media Malice

Let’s say you’re involved in social media for your business and you’re the victim of a social-media attack. Somebody you don’t really know singles War Gamesyou out because he’s mad at your company, or had a bad day, or whatever; and launches an attack out of the blue, mentions you and the company you work for, and claims you treated him badly. Ouch.

So you’re just doing your job, doing your best, dealing with a lot of people at once, and suddenly somebody targets you. They are messing with your business reputation. It happens a lot. People whose job involves dealing with a lot of people do become the target of personal anger that’s really directed at the company, the situation, or life itself (sometimes it’s one of those bad day things, a last straw situation) and it ends up feeling really rotten, like having an enemy for no good reason.

So let’s say that has happened. You’ve been blindsided by one of these attacks. What do you do now?

1. Stop, breathe, think.

Remind yourself that the meanness usually shows. Assume you’re dealing with an idiot. At least the smart people who encounter one of these attacks will see through it. They’ll click links to see where it started. They’ll see the malice if they look.

2.  Don’t take it personally.

I know this is hard. We talk about thick skin, but jeesh! People can be really mean sometimes. Why do they take their anger out on you? Remember that if part of your job is dealing with a lot of people, then these things come with the territory. You have to have thick skin about it because if it spoils your day then that’s bad for your health on the long term and it makes you unhappy. The idiot had the power to make you stop and think about a response. That’s all. Don’t give him the power to ruin your day, or even your hour. He ruined your moment. That’s all.

3. Decide whether or not to respond.

Sometimes the most eloquent response is silence. Be careful, though, because more often than not, silence gives the wrong impression. And it might even be bad for your health too.

Remind yourself that you can’t argue in social media. Like it or not, what you put in Twitter or Facebook is publishing, and it lives forever. Angry words are not biodegradable.  Like in the movie War Games, the only winning move is not to play (by the way, you can click the picture up above for the Youtube video, or just scroll down).

4.  Settle your anger and hurt first, then respond professionally.

If you should respond, take your time, be careful, clear your head first, and give a single response you can live with forever. Don’t argue, apologize. If an apology makes sense – don’t take it personally, this is business, you didn’t mean to offend, you didn’t realize, it was accidental, part of your job – make it a clear, clean apology that covers the whole issue. Make it one you can live with, without further comment, forever. Make it a response that shows the world that this was one-sided only.

Don’t get mad, get even. Expose the idiot by staying professional and not engaging.

5. Then forget about it. Let it go. Get on with your day.

If you like this job, and you like dealing with people, then of course this hurt your feelings, but you have to get over it or it continues to hurt your feelings. The idiot spoiled your moment, and that’s his fault; but if you brood over it or stay angry or hurt, then that’s your fault. Because what happens now is in your control. You can minimize the damage, or not.

And for extra credit…

Even though it’s been more than a year now since I wrote my 18-point Twitter Etiquette Primer, I believe all of it as much or more now. I did have “don’t argue with people in Twitter,” but I didn’t have “don’t use Twitter as a weapon, a threat for blackmail, or for venting.”

Have you seen that bumper sticker that says “mean people suck?” What do you think of people who blindside other people by broadcasting personal complaints on social media? Pie in the face might be funny when the Three Stooges do it in black and white film, but mud in the face in social media isn’t. It’s meanness multiplied by social media influence.

Now here’s that video: