My colleague Will Holden and I had a chance to attend the Denver Digital Summit last week to listen in on all things digital – trends, strategies, new tools and ongoing tactics. It’s great to see this Denver-based conference thrive and continue to grow each year, and while there was a ton of talk about Snapchat and other emerging technologies there was one constant theme from nearly every session I attended: Tailored user experience (understanding and knowing what your audience wants first and foremost) needs to be the focus needs to be the focus of every campaign.
Our client 34 Degrees is the maker of all-natural, wafer-thin crackers that everyone at GFM loves. Ok, we’ll admit it…we’re pretty much obsessed. From the inspiring recipes created by their very own chef to the gorgeous food photography 34 Degrees features on its packaging, website and social networks, the company has a delicious story to share day in and day out.
But with great content comes great responsibility—one shouldered daily by their tiny but dedicated team of eight. Jennifer Swift, sales and marketing coordinator, wears many social media hats in addition to her daily responsibilities of sales support, customer service, order processing and marketing. We still aren’t sure how she found the time to sit down with us to talk about 34 Degrees’ nimble approach to Facebook, but we’re sure grateful she did!
Q.) What role does Facebook play within 34 Degrees’ marketing and communications strategy?
Facebook is a platform that enables 34 Degrees to connect, share, listen and interact with our fans. In terms of our marketing and communications strategy, Facebook is a great customer service tool and it’s a marketing channel that has a lot of reach potential to share engaging content, spread awareness of our brand and, over time, develop brand loyalty.
If you haven’t already seen the new video from Dove as a part of their Campaign for Real Beauty, go ahead and give the video a look.
This post isn’t about the Dove campaign or the specific content contained within the video, because others have done it so much better than I could, but about the power of creating content that aligns with your brand on a value-based level. I recently wrote about a new video by writer/climber Brendan Leonard that is “sponsored” by Arc’Teryx and Yakima with not a single mention of either brand in the entire piece. Logos are featured at the end and there are minimal product shots, but nothing else.
With another SXSW interactive festival in the books, now comes the hard part: reviewing and digesting the information that came from five days and the 21 sessions I attended over that time. Without a doubt, companies are finding new and unique ways to interact with their audiences, many times in a one-on-one manner, that create a genuine connection to brands and causes. Here are my takeaways from the final day at SXSW:
- In “Gen Y&Z Expectations to Transform Customer Experience” the presenters discussed generational differences and how the youngest generation (Gen Z) has never known a world without the Internet. They are big on social causes and collecting (Pinterest was brought up more times that I could count), and have high expectations about how, when and where they should be able to connect to their social networks. Research and insights into your various audiences, and where and how they interact in the digital space is more important than ever.
- John Wuebben’s review of his book “Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile” he outlined several items that public relations professionals have been advising their clients about for years: start with content and build from there, its about relationship building, and becoming a trusted resource to your customers.
- I had the pleasure of rounding out my SXSW experience by attending Anthony Bourdain’s session about his show’s use of social media. Ultimately, they utilize social platforms to provide a deeper audience experience with the show, and further humanize the show’s staff. Even with the foul-mouthed Bourdain, social media is about building relationships.
Ultimately, I came away with two overarching pieces of information that I will be continually sharing with my clients and peers:
1) As search engines and web users become savvier, marketers are less and less able to manipulate the system to get your brand in front of customers. Its about building relationships and credibility with your audiences through relevant and meaningful content. If you’re looking for a social media firm, be sure to ask them about their approach to and experience with content development. At GFM our approach has always been, and will always be – talk about your customer first and yourself second. Or “Content with Intent” as we like to call it.
2) Social media is absolutely different than mass media. In fact, social media is actually micro-media in many ways. Brands can’t continue developing limited messages for the masses. Social media allows us to build deeper relationships with our customers, customize messages and content to meet their needs, and truly make one-on-one niche, and long term connections.
Jim makes many great points in his summary above so I won’t repeat them. Content was definitely king at SXSWi 2012, and I can’t help but realize that there needs to be a shift, or at least a lot more attention paid to, how much time we spend planning versus actually executing when it comes to social media. Planning is critical, please don’t think I am disputing that. But it’s so easy to spend far too long in the strategy spin cycle that you leave yourself little to no time to curate really interesting content, as well as “on the fly” content to deepen relationships when your fans start to talk back to you and interacting in new ways.
- My final day started by attending a Q&A with Pinterest founder, Ben Silbermann. I was surprised by both his humility and genuine surprise regarding the mass adoption for the platform. He is certainly focused on improving the core of Pinterest before moving into a formal monetization program, but recognized the strong SEO success many e-retailers are already reporting. Expanded profiles and video pinning are just two upcoming enhancements to look for soon. I do wish however he would have spent some time talking about future metrics tools (Is something like a Facebook Insights in the works?) and more time addressing recent copyright infringement arguments. All in all though, it was neat to be just a few rows away from the golden child of SXSWi 2012.
- Next I sat in a core conversation called “How to Lead a Social Revolution and Make a Profit.” Core conversations went one of two ways at SXSWi—either no one talked and it was extremely dull or people raised exceptional points and drove the conversation to new levels. Thankfully, this session fit the latter profile. A point that resonated with me is that nonprofits too often lead with the “bad” or the “shocking” of their cause, and in turn do not make interacting or giving fun for their supporters. The session moderator urged nonprofits to lead with interactions that are more engaging or positive in order to eventually pull people into the grittier conversation. This all goes back to Jim and my comments about content—it takes much longer to brainstorm and develop these sorts of messages, but in the end they may move the needle more!
- I also rounded out SXSWi by listening to Anthony Bourdain and his cast of production characters. To say they are pushing the boundaries is an understatement, but I left thinking about how their social media savvy has opened up the show to an entirely new generation of Bourdain users/fans. I loved when he talked about how TV networks care how many people watch his show at 10 p.m. when it airs—but he doesn’t give a [insert expected Bourdain expletive]. Bourdain just wants people to watch the show, whether it be on the Travel Channel, YouTube, Hulu, etc. This reminds us all that content can no longer live in one place if you want to grow your audience. Figure out where they are and bring it to them everywhere you possible can without spreading yourself too thin that you can’t MAINTAIN this good content.
We hope you enjoyed our SXSWi 2012 Austin adventures and look forward to continuing the conversation here on the GFM blog moving forward!
~Alexis Anderson and Jim Licko
Saturday started the usual way for us, you know, up at 4:30am to make sure we get a spot in line for tickets to the free Jay-Z concert Monday night…and I’m happy to report, we’ll be attending the AmEx Sync Show with Jay-Z on Monday night (you can follow along by checking out the American Express YouTube channel). No doubt, our list of favorites from Saturday are dominated by Jay-Z related info…
Our favorites from the first full day in Austin (Friday):
Nom nom: The bread pudding desert at Peche. They’re mainly known for their prohibition-style cocktails (see below), but the bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream was reminiscent of mom’s monkey bread – amazing…
Libations: After another day of rain, the temperatures warmed up a little, which was perfect for a Corpse Reviver #2 at Peche. Gin, lemon, Cointreau, Lillet Blac and absenthe – so light and refreshing that you’ve got to be really careful.
Celebrity-ish Sighting: Liz Gumbinner, publisher and editor-in-chief of coolmompicks.com, sporting a fedora and knee high boots at Pesche.
Through the lens: Jim and Alexis fairly excited about their free Jay-Z tickets at the ACL Live Moody Theater.
Grab Bag – Its amazing who you might meet while waiting in line in the rain at 5:20am. Behind us were two Starwood Hotel representatives and in front of us was Movember’s Director of Development. The result: pre-concert drinks with our “line buddies” on Monday. There’s always a way to network…
Free Stuff Rules – The other result of waiting in line was Jim scoring a travel mustache trimmer from our friends at Movember. You really can’t top that…
Number of steps taken: 16,432
Hours of sleep – Jim: 5.5. Alexis: 6.5.
Caffeinated beverages consumed: Jim: 6. Alexis: 4.
Number of connections made: We’re up to an even 40 people.
So you have a strategic social media plan—maybe you’ve even launched a Facebook page and created a Twitter account. This is an exciting and important step forward for many companies. However, now the question is, “how are we going to create enough content to keep it dynamic?” Below are four tips for keeping you sane, and your followers interested.
- Plan Ahead: Yes social media moves quickly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit down to plan out evergreen posts for the week, month or quarter ahead. Brainstorm topics with your team and chart out posts with links, statistics, open-ended questions and third-party references to educate your target audience about your product/services and industry as a whole.
- Have Ample Backup: People get sick and go on vacation. Those same rules apply to the person(s) overseeing your company’s social media properties. Therefore, it is critical that at least one other person in the organization is trained on how to log on, post content and respond to issues if they arise when the main point of contact for social media isn’t around. This backup person can be internal, or external if you are working with a public relations or marketing agency. You should also familiarize yourself with social media scheduling tools to schedule automated posts when needed – Hootsuite and CoTweet are just two examples of platforms that make it extremely easy to schedule content in advance.
- Switch it Up: Social media content does not only mean relying on the written word. At GroundFloor Media, some of our Facebook posts that receive the most attention are often pictures of team members doing something fun (like stalking the cupcake truck) or links to fun happenings around town (such as summer concerts at Red Rock Amphitheatre). Don’t be afraid to show your personality and keep it simple when appropriate!
- Monitor and Adjust: There are plenty of free social media monitoring tools (Klout, Social Mention, and Facebook Insights) that make it easier to track the engagement levels of your company and its social media followers. Don’t be afraid to adjust your content creation strategy based on what patterns you start observing. Do Facebook pictures generate lots of comments from your fans? Allocate more resources to capturing fun and unexpected photos on behalf of your company throughout the week. Do your fans use Twitter to ask questions rather than Facebook? Consider using Twitter as more of a customer service platform than a place to push out evergreen content. Bottom line – keep tweaking your content strategy to meet the needs of your audiences.
What other suggestions do you have for making social media content creation manageable?