How do you build a winning social media strategy?
Eric Enge interviewed Carrie Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, for the Digital Marketing Excellence Show on that topic. Watch the complete video of the interview at the bottom of this post, or watch it on YouTube. The following is our summary of that interview.
A Perfect Marriage of Branding and Social Expertise
Likeable Media may be the only social media agency ever founded at a wedding! Tweet this!
Carrie and her husband Dave were married in a come-one, come-all ceremony on the field after a Brooklyn Cyclones (NY Mets minor league affiliate) game. The wedding was publicized via digital marketing, raised over $25,000 for the MS Society, and was featured on national and international press such as ABC World New Tonight. Sponsors of the event were so thrilled with the publicity they got, they asked Carrie and Dave to do it again. They obviously weren’t going to get married again, so instead they founded Likeable Media to help brands generate the kind of buzz and reputation their unusual wedding created.
Word of Mouth Worthy Content
The best marketing for a brand has always been word of mouth marketing. Once Facebook opened up beyond the college market, Carrie and Dave realized that social media would become mainstream and would be the best and fastest word-of-mouth ever available. So they became a social media agency.
Their unusual wedding had several elements that made it an ideal piece of social web content:
- It was out of the ordinary.
- It created an emotional, human connection.
- It generated buzz without crossing a line into “tacky” or “inappropriate”
The goal is to be interesting, to have something worth talking about. Is your brand worthy of a conversation? Are you adding value to people, making their lives more interesting or useful?
Tools of Conversation
At the end of the day, social media is just a set of tools that help fuel conversations between people. There’s so much anxiety over how to use social media, but it’s not necessary. The tools change, but the way we have human conversations never has.
Even brands need to take a more humanistic approach to social conversations. Think about how you would converse at a cocktail party. You wouldn’t walk up to someone at the party and say, “Hey! Buy my product!”
Remember why people are on social media and relate to those things as a brand. “Don’t be a blowhole! Add value.”
Studies show that people don’t trust advertising. If brands are acting like advertisers on social media, they will have that same effect. They’re actually pushing away trust, rather than building it, and building trust is a primary utility of social media. The real trick of social marketing is to get to the place where your customers and fans are advocating on your behalf.
Brands used to be afraid of social media because they feared that they might get into conversations that were complaints, and that made them look bad. But they discovered those conversations were going on anyway, with or without them. Far better that they be actively involved. Resolving a customer dissatisfaction successfully not only can please that customer, but can result in amplified good vibes for the brand because it was done in public.
That means that brands need to go beyond just responding to messages directed at them to monitoring actively for mentions of their brand so they can get into the conversation where appropriate.
Social Media Brand Success Stories
KLM Airlines does a great job of responsive listening on social media. They actually publish their current social media response time right on their Twitter cover image, and update it every five minutes.
Brands that are most successful on social media understand they have a responsibility to produce content that helps their audience and adds value to their customers.
Brands can also win in social media and content when they are clear about what they stand for. They tend to have a consistent theme (such as “innovation” for GE). That turns a seemingly uninteresting brand into a lot of fascination.
Another key to success in social media is to keep things simple, shareable, & short. We are in the era of 6-second Vine videos. Inspired by the famous six-word story (attributed to Hemingway), Likeable Media created a campaign to share a series of social media tips in just six words each. Attention spans are minimal, especially when people encounter what is clearly brand content.
Entenmann’s, is a regional bakery that has been around since 1898, making it a nostalgia brand. In recent years they tried to modernize their product offerings, but found that many on social media were bemoaning the demise of some old favorites. So they decided to crowdsource on social media, saying that anything people seemed to want badly enough they would consider bringing back. This was a huge success for them, and led to an ongoing “Bring It Back” campaign. Through this they learned that while people loved some of the old Entenmann’s stand-by’s, they also were more health conscious these days, so they introduced portion-controlled versions of the old products. So social media can also become part of product development.
Know Your Networks
Different social networks have value for different audiences or demographics. For instance, while Snapchat (a network whose shared posts disappear seconds after they are sent) might seem like an unlikely place for brand marketing.
But one study found that 77% of college students use Snapchat daily. Obviously if your product is geared to that age group, that might be a channel you’d want to figure out. Because of that, some fast food brands such as Taco Bell have been Snapchatting quick coupons to Snapchat users.
Have to ask the “does this add value?” question for each network, too. The channel is less important than the value added. What the audience will value is different on each network.
Social Networking Without Fears or Tears
Some takeaways from Carrie Kerpen:
- How often should you post? No right answer. Watch engagement as a clue. Many people post often and still do well. More important to post when you’ve got something worth posting! (BONUS: For more on the value of posting your content more than once on social networks, see “The Power of Sharing and Sharing Again.”)
- Don’t get tied into following someone else’s roadmap. You have to test and pay attention to what YOUR audience responds to.
- Don’t get too married to any one platform. Their popularity and effectiveness can come and go.
- Don’t be afraid to just start out with one or two networks. But it’s more important to think about what kind of content you want to put out. Then you can figure out how to adapt it to other networks.
- Don’t be afraid to try out new networks. If it doesn’t work, you can always leave without devastating consequences.
- Your strategy is not about networks, but what you want to accomplish. More time should be spent on nurturing existing customers. It’s their word of mouth that works to expand your brand. Putting new customer acquisition first can be a mistake.
- Active listening on social media helps you learn your customer personas.
- Searching on a network “I wish…” + a brand name gives a lot of insights into what people think about your brand and competitors.
- Constantly ask and check, “How are people already engaging with my competitors or related industries?”
- In forming a strategy, you have to know your objectives, but be prepared to be flexible. Things are likely to change every few months.
Top 5 Things to be successful in social media marketing:
- Understand how social media ties to biz goals
- Create content that adds value to customers
- Connect with your current customers. Know where they are
- Give audience a reason to share and advocate for you
- Watch your analytics for what is working and isn’t
Expanding on point 3:
- Be prepared to tie into relevant and popular trends and moments.
- Make exclusive and fun offers that require engagement.
- Don’t be afraid to ASK people to share.
- If you are adding value all the time, you’ve earned the right to ask something from your audience.