Tracking the visual snaps and language your demo crafts on social = rich source material and inspiration for ways to conceptualize a social media campaign.
Here’s how SOU’s latest Preview Weekend Instagram Contest was conceptualized.
1. I search #SOUAshland, #SOU on twitter and insta often. “Searching often” is a very “soft” term. I’d say in truth, I obsessively track our demo. Kidding. Nope, not kidding at all.
2. I saw that many students are both snapping pics of their Acceptance Letters…and of course taking pics of their experience on Preview Day, and writing a bit about their experience. I take grabs of these posts to share with my department and other departments to keep them in the loop on the conversation on social.
3. The work I do with the Graphic Designer and Marketing Assistant is collaborative and open. I shared this snap with my Graphic Design collaborator, and he noted, “someone wrote, ‘Loving SOU.'”
Well, it just so turns out that SOU’s Preview Weekend begun on Valentine’s Day and ended the day after. Perfect. I decided to move on this and named the contest #LovingSOU Preview Weekend Instagram Contest.
4. I’m obsessed with theburninghouse.com. And I thought it would be great to do a giveaway where we took a photograph of SOU and Valentine’s Day related items…pulling from Gen Y visual culture, and illustrating what items 1 randomly selected winner would receive.
We teamed up with the Admissions Associate Director and Admissions Counselor and went to the bookstore to pick the items as a team. Each of us brought items to the table with the goal of reflecting different types of students in the objects to be shown in the promo graphic: from the athletic or sporty (water bottle, sweatshirt, cap) to the hipster (plaid scarf, sunglasses), and (hopefully) everything in-between.
The object I think truly captures the “spirit” of this campaign, is the journal with the text, “There is no set path, just follow your heart!” that the Admissions Counselor picked out. I also ran to a store off campus and found Hershes kisses, glittery sparkle hearts and leopard print socks with hearts on them. But of course.
I shared this visual template with the Graphic Designer and he snapped a few photos, laying out the items. He took a few photos with his feet in them, and I thought this was something to keep, it’s a cool way to innovate upon the uber clean look of theburninghouse.com. Feet-in-the-frame was an “accident” that in my mind truly makes this image unique. It brings the viewer into the frame and adds quirk.
5. The contest was announced at Preview Weekend. Prospective students were asked to follow SOU on twitter and instagram AND tag each photo with #lovingSOU, #SOUAshland and #PreviewWeekend.
Tagging #PreviewWeekend was essential, as prospective students who may not know about SOU may come upon the promo graphic on insta from the tags students make of the photos they take. New students may also learn about the contest via the promo graphic and messaging that includes the hash, #PreviewWeekend.
6. We received 131 photo submissions. A great number, considering the total number of Preview Weekend student attendees was close to 140 students.
7. Our winner’s photo was randomly selected and she then received her fab items. True love!
Welcome to my life, called Building a Brand 101. As a freelancer, and especially in social, you jump onto the sand, create a castle, and then the waves come in and the project’s over. Super. Zen. I feel lucky that for the past year now I have had so much work coming my way, that I’ve had to turn clients away. It’s a good feeling.
Image: Creative Commons Net Diva
Although for me I lament a bit when a project is over – as I’ve connected with a community and feel I know them, know what resonates…The great thing is with each job, you step away with a perfected content calendar and voice guide ideas, and a perfected list of objectives and questions to ask as you once again hit the sand running. No, don’t run. Walk slowly…at least at the start. Which frankly, I do find to be a challenge.
Laying the Foundation
For Tier 1, select ONLY 3 platforms based on where your demographic plays, then define the objective of each platform, then perfect the voice on each platform. It’s OK if this takes some time. You have a lot of listening to do. Both to your client and their needs, and also what’s going on in the social space.
Once you’ve identified your demographic, Research what platforms they are using
Research where your target demographic is playing by not only looking at what they’re doing on your current social properties, but by diving deep into what your client’s top-tier competition is doing.
ASK: If your brand could be any brand besides itself, who would it like to be?
Get the answer, and then stalk that brand and their competition like nobody’s business and see what platforms get the most engagement. If your client does not even know who their competition is or how to position themselves (it’s been known to happen) do your own research. Forbes lists are great for that.
Just go for the Gold. Barney’s over Ross. Louboutins over Aldo. Yale over…You get the picture. It’s not because I’m a snob. I’ve found amazing knock-offs at Ross. But that’s the point. Everything as far as I’m concerned in marketing is aspirational. We all want THE BEST. So, just go and see what Apple is doing. And DONT copy, do your own innovation from there. Clearly they’re doing something right by creating what I like to call…an imprint identity.
Select your platforms
Often, your client will want to be on Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Google + LinkedIn and of course Facebook right away. NEVER do this. Did I say NEVER do it? Never, just don’t. For your own sanity. Why? Each platform is like a little baby. It needs to be fed. Content. It needs to be listened to. It needs to be monitored. You get the idea. And I get where they’re coming from. They want to get the word out. If too many platforms are live, the messaging becomes diluted. Use FlowChart or another visual tool to map out the flow of your messaging. Some platforms are used to “get the word out” and others, are actually to pull the people in.
Often, you may love a certain platform for an intuitive design or the fact that it offers video. You may love Vine, but is your demo playing there? What is their technical bandwidth?
There are ancillary platforms to leverage, such as If you wanted to create a SoundCloud Playlist, or even begin playing with Vine, it is OK- as long as your 3 primary platforms are clearly defined and in full swing. And with a clear objective in mind – to gain more shares and RTs and likes.
If you’re stepping into a project with platforms already set up, be sure and check the basics like pushing tweets to FB or vice versa. This happened to me today, and it was disturbing, as I had already revoked the twitter to FB. Double check, especially in the beginning. Just don’t syndicate content across your social channels.
Once you determine what the important features of your product are and why your consumer will want your product, Perfect the objective of the platform itself
As stated in a previous post, RTs and SHARES are the ultimate goal on social. We’re cool with the friends and tweeps we have, we LOVE them, but we’re really interested in their hot friends. So we want to utilize each platform in order to inspire this type of word-of-mouth engagement.
It’s essential that you post with an objective, yes, it’s to “create a conversation,” yes, it’s to “be authentic” (although that’s a whole other convo)..but WHY these platforms?
Things to think about:
Facebook: Use Facebook to highlight your brand’s unique culture and vision. It’s about posting images and videos, and linking out to content to establish your brand as a go-to for information your demo craves.
It’s also great for lead generation. Want a new email list? Run a promotion. It’s also good as a centralized content funnel.
We use Facebook to direct traffic from this platform to information that is generated from you or reflects your brilliance – you will link to videos, the e-commerce site, to blog content (generated in-house or directed to a source you want to align your brand with by sharing their content), or perhaps to departments in the organization you are speaking from the voice of. More on the Content Calendar later. And yes, FB is key in establishing a connection – and a conversation – with your demo.
Twitter: Is a microblogging platform, is global, real-time, and über performative. It’s like a cocktail party on the world’s stage. Everybody’s watching. It’s about pulling people in towards you by tweeting out content that reflects the value of your organization. Once they’ve been pulled in, they will want to share your content.
The objective on twitter is to get your brand’s handle on the radar of key influencers by using their handles in your tweets and mobilize brand evangelists to retweet or reply to your messaging. When your key influencer likes a post on your Facebook page, that’s great but the event happens within a container, a closed system of Facebook. Your brand evangelist’s friends may see that they ‘liked’ a post of yours, but then that interaction is quickly swept away in the feed. When your key influencer or brand evangelist RTs your content or replies to you on twitter, all of their friends see your twitter handle and the conversation taking place, and this interaction claims a larger residency – as the convo remains on their twitter page for a longer duration, and your handle is not hidden.
Your Influencer list will drive engagement here. If your messaging is strong and consistent and has VALUE, you can get on the radar of your ideal brand/influencer/ tastemaker/ thoughtleader. Using EdgeRank strategies is useful in this space, but implement creatively. You can get on the radar of key influencers on FB as well, even posting to their page (despite being pushed to that annoying box on the side), but in my experience, the response on FB is much, much slower.
Instagram: Images, images, images. Tell the story of your brand.Often this platform is used to reflect a RT behind-the-scenes story of your organization or brand.
Pinterest: The land of aspiration. We re-pin because we want to be that, do that, have that.
Tumblr: This is a good space to visually display images. It can also be used as a content funnel and your content can be reblogged. I think this space works best for social critique and meme or animated gif collecting.
Perfect the voice on each platform.
Although your Voice Guide will have consistency across channels (emoticons or no? abbreviations or exclamation points or no?) – you will need to learn the currency on each platform. What hashtags is your demographic currently using? Are the hashtags the smartest choices? Could you perfect or innovate within and/or outside the language that’s currently being used? Who are your tweeps RTing…find out why. What influencers can you identify on each platform that you’d like RTing and Sharing your content? Influencer Lists in another blog. This gets into The Holy Grail. More on that later.
Even though your content calendar may have the same content going out at 10am on both FB and twitter – you must craft messaging according to how content is “read” on each platform. And especially for twitter – because it often has a totally different objective than FB in which case you will be dropping in hashtags and handles that may not be relevant on FB. Though, it is important to use hashtags on FB now.
To be an effective social media manager, you’ve got to have your social media strategy in place. Listen, Love, and Leverage are the stages I’ve named and step through with all new clients. It’s a great way to introduce clients to the way I work, and step them through how I’ll be using social media to meet and exceed their unique goals.
Listen – Be it on Facebook or Twitter, the first rule is to listen. Listen and identify what topics have currency with your community. Your social media manager has to have the ability to connect in to the feelings and wants of your brand’s particular demographic. For me, listening informs much of the messaging and other content I generate or find.
With twitter – click on the @connect tab to see who is tweeting you – i.e. – wanting to get on your radar. Also check the #discover tab to see what hashtags people are using to connect with your brand. Use Facebook Insights to help you dial into the demographic and most importantly, what has the highest virality. Use deeper and more targeted tools such as Klout, wefollow, commun.it, and the heavy hitters if your budget allows – such as Radian6. Identifying is about understanding who your community is.
Love – This engagement phase includes commenting and direct messaging on Facebook, and retweeting, favoriting, and replying other people’s posts. You must maintain some element of exclusivity. Who you decide to engage with has much to do with if they have the kind of influence you are seeking.You have to figure out who is worth your time to love. So true, so true.
Leverage – The goal of social media is to authentically connect with your community and at the same time expand your brand’s message. This is the time when you propose an ask to someone (most likely a high influencer) you have been “loving.” After your relationship/rapport is established, you’ll request a guest blog post, or ask this influencer to do a “shout out” on your behalf or support a marketing initiative your brand is launching. I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine is the subtext of much that goes on in social media.
Decisions – From success stories on fitness Moms who have lost weight by eating healthy protein bars, to stories about fierce feminist bloggers, to generating buzz around a beta launch of an online learning application – if these posts or features are getting the most likes, shares, retweets, and comments on Facebook or Twitter, it’s a cue from your community for your social media manager and marketing team to find, create, and promote more content like this. Analytics are are the roadmap for your content creation.
Details – You must map it out – your editorial calendar, your weekly messaging, your month’s themes, your promotions, and goals related to when influencers will be identified and leveraged – all the while knowing and being ok with the reality that social media is rooted in real-time, immediate call and response.
Demands – Strategy, verve, and spontaneity are all central to social media. What this means is that social media is fast and unpredictable. You have to establish in advance how to handle negative posts (do you delete them or leave them?), if posts will happen on the weekends, and what each brand’s standards are for how long is too long for a post to go unanswered, and how many posts should be made daily. I have found that this varies from brand and demographic.