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, "Browsing is Dying & Social is Sighing," 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.” This series was originally published as a feature story in “Archery University,” a special issue published annually by Archery Business.

The thing bogging me down most about social media is the chase. I was all over Facebook and then I jumped on Twitter and loved it. And I loved it for personal reasons, like the things I was interested in following: football (college and NFL), general news, tech news, fitness and – yeah, I’ll admit it – celebrity gossip. 

​By using these social tools, I found it easy to leverage them in my job. I knew what I was doing, I believed in social networking, and I’ve experienced its value on a personal level. I also believed a growing pool of people were on these sites, and we needed to put our message in their faces.

Then, came Instagram, another social platform. I like that too. What if we took photos at the Trade Show and posted them there? We could hashtag them by product name, and possibly drive interest to the brand. That’s not a bad idea. Maybe we’ll do it next year, if Instagram is still around. Oh, but wait. Here comes Pinterest. Well, I need to learn that. There’s a growing audience there, too, and archery needs to be there. In fact, it already is there. But that means the ATA needed to be there, like, yesterday. Right?

The thing is, I’m already tired. I’m literally weary of learning one tool, feeling some rhythm in using it, triggering some interaction with my audience, and then having to turn around and learn a new one. What I want most is to give up the chase. I long to settle into a relationship, but social networking is like serial dating.

Use Message Like Mama Uses Bisquick

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. Customize your message so it lives in several formats.

So one 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.