If Your Social Content Isn’t Brand-Relevant, It’s Just Noise

In the PR industry, we’re paid to make people take notice. Notice of products, services, people, companies. Notice of articles, comments, updates, events. And it’s not always easy – it’s a crowded world out there and “breaking through the noise” is a big challenge. Social media has opened up the options for promotion – we’re not tied only to third parties, such as media, to spread the word. We can create, share and promote our own content more than ever – and ask fans, customers, and followers to validate such content through “liking” it, sharing it, commenting on it, etc.

The biggest mistake we see in this type of promotion is a failure to connect the dots. Too many companies are so busy providing status updates and ad hoc content just to fill a page (or justify someone’s job), that they aren’t thinking about an integrated strategy. There’s also a lot of unrelated content posted by businesses that doesn’t seem to support the brand, the products or the company’s mission. Even if you are just trying to entertain your community and be conscientious to not over-promote to them, you should still make sure you’re posting content that makes sense. Otherwise, it’s just unnecessary noise.

The old ABC adage – Always Be Closing – doesn’t apply to social media and community efforts by brands. Of course you don’t want to be overly-promotional in your networks, or you’ll turn your fans away. They don’t want to be marketed to – they want to be talked with. And that means sharing interesting content that’s helpful, entertaining or intriguing in some way – but it should still tie to your brand.

One good example I saw recently was by the Life is Good company on Facebook. As a company that sells “optimistic apparel & accessories,” they are constantly posting inspirational quotes and images. They’re lucky in this aspect because it ties to their company’s mission. Recently, I noticed a post with a link to “Life is Good Radio.” I thought it was interesting that an apparel company took the time to create an online radio station. But when I listened, it made total sense – the songs were all upbeat, inspirational and happy. The station reinforces the company’s mission – optimism. Music provides that emotion for many of us, and the company describes the programming as “eclectic and reflective of the company’s positive outlook.” They nailed it.

When thinking about your social media and marketing content, how do you ensure it ties to your brand or company’s mission? Are you considering the tone you’re setting with the content you share? Are you taking the time to train anyone responsible for growing social networks and community on your behalf, so that they are fully aware of that tone/sentiment, and so that they know how to tie interesting and engaging content to your brand?

Here are a few tips:

  • Post content that gets people thinking about an issue, topic or trend that ties to your business. Content should relate to your business in order to help brand recall. If a customer remembers your brand when thinking about an issue, you’ve won. For example, as a parent, I’m always thinking about ways to keep my children healthy. Say I follow a company on Facebook that makes children’s iPad apps, and they post 10 tips for helping my child to build a strong memory. I’m going to remember that brand as helpful and resourceful, and oh yeah – I should probably check out their app.
  • Post content that gets people to engage with you. It’s all well and good to post a funny dog video but it’s even better – especially if you sell products to dog owners – to get people to answer a question about the video on your Facebook page – spending more time exposed to your brand, logo, messages, etc. – and likely to come back again to see what other people’s answers are to that question (enforcing that sense of community around your brand).
  • Post content that makes sense. This seems obvious, but if you work for or represent Chrysler, Tweeting that people in Detroit don’t know how to drive is … well, just stupid. Even if it was your personal opinion. Social media doesn’t mean you have to share every thought. Especially if you want to keep your day  job.

 

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/21/11

Pepsi RefreshPepsi Refresh: Social Media’s Pearl Harbor or Waterloo?
This post by Chris Yeh on the Agency Collaboration blog responds to Bob Hoffman’s “scorching” Ad Contrarian post with a fresh and insightful view on the highly publicized Pepsi Refresh campaign.

Why I’m Glad I Went to SXSW (Despite My Reluctance): One Virgin’s Experience
Fresh off the heals of our own @missusP’s post about her first-time SXSW experience comes this entertaining recap from MarketingProf‘s Ann Handley. And yes, this is the second week in a row that Ms. Handley has appeared in our picks…let the rumors begin!  ;)

Three social media marketing techniques that brands should probably ditch
Econsultancy tech reporter Patricio Robles provides a short list of social marketing techniques that brands should consider avoiding when deploying new campaigns.

Why Social Media is Perfect for Small Businesses
TMCnet.com contributing editor Gary Kim shares the results of a recent American Express survey that revealed that word of mouth is still one of the primary ways small businesses gain new customers – which is also one of the benefits of a properly executed online social strategy.

Facebook Questions Goes Where Quora Can’t
Quora certainly rocked the “buzz meter” in the beginning of 2011. ReadWriteWeb‘s Mike Melanson shares highlights from Facebook‘s announcement of its newly enhanced Questions feature that will make it more valuable to users.

Business Lessons Learned from Kelly Cutrone

Kelly CutroneBefore I read Kelly Cutrone’s New York Times best seller, “If You Have to Cry Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You,” I caught a few episodes of her reality show, “Kell on Earth” documenting her fashion PR firm, People’s Revolution. While I wasn’t completely impressed with the operation as documented on the show, it piqued my curiosity and made me want to learn more about the PR icon and her road to success.

After reading the book, I have a lot more respect for what she’s been able to build at People’s Revolution, given her early struggles with both her personal life and her career. In my opinion, Kelly’s most important lessons aren’t just about PR – they are about life and what we expect our lives to be. She talks a lot about discovering yourself and having a chance to transform your ideals time and time again, before you can become successful.

There are some valuable business lessons here we can all learn from, no matter which end of the PR spectrum, industry or stage of your career.

  • Awaken your soul: You shouldn’t expect that if you do everything your parents/the media/your friends tell you to do you will be happy. You have to listen to your inner voice and find out your own desires within your soul; without any outside expectations for who you should be and what should make you happiest in life.
  • Life is unpredictable: You need a strong foundation to support the twists in the road and need to be able to adjust your plan accordingly. Kelly credits her “tribe” with helping her get to where she is today. She went from nursing student to training nurses for NutriSystem, to publicist, to homeless and unemployed, to tarot card reader and musician, among other things, before achieving her current position on top of a very successful fashion PR business.
  • Know your place in the pack (no matter what business you are in): Leaders steer the direction and protect the pack, teachers teach, hunters hunt, etc. “Knowing your place in the pack doesn’t mean restricting your contributions; it just means keeping your entitlement in check,”  My takeaway is that we are all part of a bigger team aiming to reach a common goal; we all have to pull our weight, and if every manager explained business teams and org charts this way to fresh faced interns or new employees, they may take more advantage of the lessons others in “the pack” could teach them. And in turn, worry less about entitlement and more about achieving success for their own future potential.
  • Develop your own personal brand -- and be who you truly are: Kelly is dressed in all black all the time, and this is how she is most comfortable in her own skin. She has made this and her no-nonsense approach to client service, her personal brand. She knows that if clients are looking for something other than what she offers, they will go somewhere else to find representation, and that’s ok with her. If you try to be someone or something you are not, you will fail. Decide what your personal brand is and what you can offer your clients that is unique and refreshing and stick to that.
  • Use the phone: Kelly reiterates what we all already know. In today’s digitally-inclined, socially-networked world, too much time is spent detaching ourselves from real relationships and emotions. We are obsessed with apps and devices that are supposed to make us feel more connected when in reality, they are making us more isolated from forming real relationships. We need to spend more time on the phone, not less, to show our human side and make more human contact, not less.
  • If you have to cry go outside: This isn’t just about showing over-the-top emotions in the workplace, but rather a lesson on balance. We all need to realize that work isn’t life, and you need to have a sense of balance in life outside of your job to put that into perspective. You learn this as you progress through life experiences, overcome challenges and manage a crisis – or 12 or a hundred. You gain the experience needed to improve your place in the pack and handle the situation no matter how tough it is.

Did you read the book? What did you think? What was your top takeaway from it that you will apply to your career? Please share your comments and any other lessons learned below.

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/14/11

Lady GagaThe secrets of Lady Gaga’s social media success
Simon Owens highlights the path of Lady Gaga’s success with all things social including some pretty jaw dropping stats via this post on TheNextWeb.com.

5 Questions (and Answers) About Social Location Marketing
MarketingProf‘s Ann Handley shares a short Q&A with “Social Location Marketing” author Simon Salt, who explains why location-based marketing will continue to be relevant and worthy of consideration as part of your overall social strategy.

How Do You Know if Social Media Marketing is Working?
Ira Kalb challenges a recent post from BNET blogger Jeff Haden, where he suggests that “social media marketing is a waste of time” and “doesn’t produce tangible results.”

Most Marketers Clueless About Social Media Conversations
This SocialMediaExaminer.com post from Amy Porterfield highlights the results of the 8th annual Alterian survey, which found marketers admitting to struggles when it comes to customer engagement across multiple social platforms.

Facebook ‘Likes’ more profitable than tweets
Mashable‘s Sarah Kessler breaks down the findings from a recent Eventbrite study that used “in-house social analytics tools to track ticket sales on the site” to determine that Facebook “Likes” drive more sales than Tweets pointing to the same event.

Photo source: AllieIsWierd.com

Interview with Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss

We took a few minutes to sit down with one of our favorite journalists, Steve Strauss from USAToday.

Steve, who is often called “the country’s leading small business expert,” is a lawyer, author, and USATODAY.com columnist. His latest book is the Small Business Bible. Steve is also a speaker in high demand who has spoken around the world about entrepreneurship, including at the United Nations. He has been seen on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and many other shows.

What is the role of a media relations person for today’s journalist?

It is two-fold. Your job is to get your client’s name out there – and if you can help a journalist get their job done easier, then it’s a home run.

What kind of things are you looking for/writing about in the next few months?

I’m always looking for new angles around small business, something that is of general interest to a lot of small business people—something they don’t already know. A unique take or an innovative angle is always much appreciated.

How is the outlook for small business in this economy?

Everyone is past the survival mode they were in for the last two years and now they are figuring out how to grow.

What are your readers challenged by these days?

One issue that keeps coming up is how to manage social media. How much, how to make it pay off, how to make money doing it, etc.

How do you want to receive information?

I hate press releases. In fact, I occasionally give a speech that encourages people not to use a traditional press release. I like email – short, quick and snappy—from someone who knows who I am and what I am about. I’m frustrated by someone who just puts my name on a list. But, if someone knows my beat, that will really pique my interest and then I’m more likely to listen to their pitch. A short, snappy directed email works best for me.

Do you have an example of a good PR pitch?

A former journalist-turned-PR person sent me an inquiry that was just about getting to know what I wanted. No pitch, no client information. Just a basic “what can I do for you” note. That really resonated with me.

An example gone wrong?

Someone asked me to write a story, and I said yes. They provided me with the information and it sat there for a while. I just got busy. I let her know I’d write the story, I just didn’t know when. She wouldn’t stop. I understand follow up, we all have to do it. But there is a line you can’t cross. I wrote the story but I asked her not to contact me anymore.