Chasing Social, Part 1

Posted by Amy Hatfield on June 20, 2013 in Business & Marketing Practices
This post is the first in a three-part series that considers how mobile is changing the way customers get information and why it's elevating social media’s relevance. Tomorrow’s installment will consider the pitfalls of social evangelism. The last post identifies new and emerging customers as a “tribe of getters.”

The thing is, I’m literally weary of learning one social networking tool, feeling some rhythm in using it, triggering some interaction with my audience, and then having to turn around and learn a new one. Most recently, I'm trying to figure out Reddit and Google+ and in a month I'll be figuring out something else that's picking up steam. 

What I want most is to give up the chase. I long to settle into a relationship, but social networking is like serial dating. So, until the rotation plays itself out and something emerges that proves sustainable and effective, here's a couple of ideas to help ease the burden and I've thrown in one example. 

1. Customize Your Message So It Lives In Several Formats. 

With social media and other interactive marketing tools, a business must give its audience what it wants, and deliver it how each group wants to receive it. 

So a single message can be shaped in a variety of ways:

  • Infograph
  • Press release
  • 140-character tweet
  • Graphically designed social asset (think postcard-style for Facebook)
  • 200-word blurb in a newsletter
  • Featured column in a trade magazine

These are only examples, any combination works based on audience demographics and your company’s unique analytics. Take Bisquick, for instance. You can make anything with the stuff, whether it’s a sweet, flaky top for a blackberry cobbler or a salty, doughy top for a chicken pot pie. You can also use it to make biscuits and pancakes. Bisquick is awesome and, for marketing purposes, it represents your story. It’s at the center and it’s always the same. But you can add this or add that, and tweak it just a bit and it takes on different forms.

The Bisquick Method: An Example

Let’s apply this idea of flexible messaging to a fictional archery shop we’ll pretend I own and operate. I’ll call my business “Hatfield’s We’re-better-than-the-McCoys Archery.” Like many of you, I run a big-buck contest to get people in the door, and then create a 30-second radio spot to promote the contest. Facebook promotes the contest too, likely to a different audience that didn’t catch the radio spot. I don’t have time to write social posts and a radio script because I’m trying to run my business, so I use pieces of the radio script to drive a series of Facebook posts promoting the event.

Despite all these promotions, I’ve only written the event information once, for the radio spot. And, yet, I’ve used it repeatedly through multiple publishing tools. The message centered on a big-buck contest and never changed. However, the way I delivered the message and the format I used was adjusted slightly to accommodate each messaging tool.

Flip Social On Its Head (Like Flipping a Bisquick Pancake)

This approach flips the social “chase” on its head. It puts the emphasis on message types rather than on tools – like Facebook and Twitter – and what to say on them. Companies usually know what they want to say already. It’s just a matter of saying it. And saying it often enough. Today, it may be Facebook, tomorrow it may be a social platform that doesn’t exist right now. It doesn’t matter. You have your message, you know you’ll distribute it in a variety of ways, long and short, in both written and graphic formats. You’ll use social networks, but you’ll use traditional advertising tools too. And you’ll treat each one like a PVC pipe. It’s what the pipe carries – message quality – that matters most.