As I scour the web and read, I come across many different articles. One thing that has been in the news for some time now is the unrest in the Arab world, and the different demonstrations, and subsequent backlash from those events. But it is not just about politics, it is about using the social media to be more than a way to play Farmville or Angry Birds. I love the social media outlets just as much as the next person. It is fun, I love joking around with my friends. The Hirdweb Facebook page is another extension of this blog, and I use it to suit my needs. However, many businesses set up a page, then let it flounder after a few months. It is not enough to just set up a social campaign, or page, or feed, the company must keep it going. And that can be easier said than done.
Doing any type of campaign, whether it is a traditional spot, or a new social campaign, there needs to be some type of sustainable presence and interaction. Whatever the product or service, if you want the people to keep coming back, it has to be more than just “Here is my product/service! Hope you enjoy” type of message. Some campaigns do not provide products or services, they provide messages, movement, and reshaping ideas. No matter what the message is, no matter what the end result target may be, a sustained drive will lead to better success than a quick one hit and bail.
First, you must understand what is the overall goal. If you do not understand the destination, or where that destination is, then it will not matter what plans are made. This is perhaps the place where all projects fail. The team fails to understand the real goal, the real destination, so they plan on things that seem to be good, but instead will just drive people to insanity. By knowing and understanding the goal, you can devise a plan, or even devise a methodology that will help achieve that goal. And you can understand what works.
What works Now
In any type of campaign, certain things work, and certain things do not. The best example of this is political campaigns. They are probably the best to watch (and also very sad as well in their own way). You can tell the candidate understands what works, because that is what they pander to. This is not to say that when businesses run a campaign, they pander (well ok, they do, but not as much). Some candidates understand what works with the targeted demographic, and some do not. Every election year, national or local, we can pull examples of which candidate knew what worked and which did not. Getting your message out is very similar, in a less slimy way. The message you are conveying, must be conveyed in terms that people understand, in avenues that they use, and in formats they trust.
What will work tomorrow
For this section, I want to use an example from political history, the Nixon-Kennedy Debate. This was the first televised debate. All debates previously had been aired over radio. At the time, the country had reservations about a Catholic young buck trying for the White House. Especially with an experienced VP going against him. However, Kennedy had some great advisers that also got very lucky, but they made their own luck. Kennedy was prepped, put in a suit that contrasted the background, was smiling, and confident. Nixon looked sick, sweaty and blended into the background. Everyone who heard the debate over the radio felt that Nixon won. Everyone who watched it (which was 74 million, and in 88% of all households at the time) felt Kennedy won. Up until that point, television was thought of as an entertainment box. Now it was a very powerful medium to generate a message. Even though the same things were said on radio and TV, Kennedy won that election based largely in part to the television debate. Never underestimate a stream just because it may not be the traditional medium.
Do not ignore the interaction
One of the biggest question marks I see is the interaction. When the message is out there, some companies and groups decide they know better than the people. They ignore the feedback from the constituency. Telling people what to think will only last for a little time. Soon they decide that they have heard enough and move elsewhere. Make sure you understand the customer/consumer/user point of view, understand why they feel this way. Do not forget the stats as well. Those can have major impacts as well. If you see a large group coming from a different entry location, then it may be better to shift focus into that area to solidify the section, and understand why that is working and other entry points are not.
Promote with passion
It is always easier to do things when you actually enjoy it. Having to work on a project that you have no desire in, and are not passionate about will just be drudgery. And that will be conveyed when the message gets out. Take a look at Apple. Their products (and I say this while I am typing on my Mac Book Pro, with my iPhone next to it and an iPad charging) are expensive items that seem to be no more valuable than the Microsoft counterparts. Yet when they promote the products, they do it with passion. You can get that from Steve Jobs, and others who are presenting products. How willing would you be to buy a product from a campaign that is reminiscent of Ferris Beuller’s Econ teacher (played wonderfully by Ben Stein).
Today’s age of technology and information overload provides so much change that we are lucky if we get at least one day to digest major events. In this day, with the pace of change so fast, you can not be content with staying in a certain way for too long. For hardware we saw the move from a central mainframe to desktop units, then made its way to personal computers. From there we saw that evolve into a laptop format, then a better portable laptop. Phone went from being phones, to hand held game machines, then cameras, then digital assistants, to mobile computing power. Laptops further evolved into mobile tablets. The web went from reading and IRC channels to allow people to enter data in forms, now it is more social than ever. No longer is it just reading; it is sharing, playing, gaming, information dissemination and viewing. TV is now on the internet, and regular TV boxes now have internet capabilities, and 3D technology. Who knows what tomorrow may bring. But it is important to stay adaptable to keep up with the changes.
In the past, one could claim that they were alone in the world. News may take as many as 5 days to get around. Now, when major events happen, it is almost immediate. An interesting thing that would be good to know, and I am not even sure how we could do this, is find out how many people in the United States found out about Osama bin Laden via social streams versus those who found out about it in the morning paper/TV the next day.