Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Seeking that social-media lightning rod

In Business Class, Connecting to Communicate, social media, uhm on June 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

One of the frustrations of social media is its apparent randomness. One blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update, etc., will provoke a wave of hits and comments while another – seemingly similar – will be virtually ignored. As a result, using social media to build your business can be like trying to get struck by lightning – over and over again.

Think about your personal social media adventures. One day you post a Facebook picture of your cute little niece with ice cream smeared all over her face, and – lightning strikes! – the crowd goes crazy. A day later, you post one of your nephew looking all Norman Rockwell-esque as he takes a bite out of his hot dog at a parade, and … nothing. Tweet about last night’s episode of The Office and – zap! – you’re the reTweet champ; a week later, Tweet out a witty remark about Michael Scott’s latest gaffe and you’re the Omega Man – all alone.

While this unpredictability is annoying in the personal social media space, it can be devastating if you’ve made social media a key part of your marketing and communications strategy. Suddenly, it’s not just a matter of personal pride that you scored an extra 50 followers on Twitter – it’s a matter of bread on the table.

So, if social media is about as reliable as getting struck by lightning, how do you achieve success? Well, to beat the metaphor to death, you find the right lightning rod, hold it up nice and high, and connect it to the right objectives and outcomes.

 And I’m going to tell you how to do that, right?

 Not exactly. I don’t think anyone’s fully uncovered that secret. But some people have found ways to improve the odds. Here are five things I’ve noticed that they do (and a few really bad weather-related analogies to make the ideas “sticky”): 

  • Track the storms. When you’re planning a picnic and the clouds turn black, what do you do? You check the weather radar so you know where the storms are headed. Granted, in real life you do that to avoid being struck by lightning; in the social media world, you do it to anticipate the next lightning strike. How? By watching social media, “listening” to what’s going on out there, assessing the opportunities and making educated guesses. Hey: You can’t do any worse than your average wacky weather guy on TV, right?
  • Chase the right storm. Where do you find the most lightning? Where there’s a storm. Where will you find the most people inclined to pay attention to your posts/Tweets/etc.? Where a relevant conversation is already taking place. Engage in other social media outlets related to the topic you’re addressing. Then hold your lightning rod up nice and high.    
  • Find the highest ground. Lightning typically jumps to the highest point in the area – at first glance, this appears to be a matter of elevation. For the sake of our already tired metaphor, though, we’ll say it’s a matter of standing out in the crowd.  Offering the same thing people can find elsewhere on the Web won’t do you much good. Sure, go where the storms are, but, then, find a way to “rise above the crowd.”
  • Go fly a kite. Not great advice in a thunderstorm, but it did work for Ben Franklin. The point? When ol’ Ben put that legendary kite in the air with a key on the string, he discovered something extraordinary in the ordinary. Social media begs for innovation, creativity and smart thinking. Put them to work and you just might end up with, uhm, shocking results.
  • Seed the clouds. As with any other media, you’ll find the most success by cultivating and maintaining an audience. This takes time and persistence. But once you bring the right “atmospheric conditions” together, you improve the odds of making lightning strike.

Certainly, adopting those five practices won’t automatically make you a lightning rod for social media success, and I don’t pretend they’re the only practices that will jolt you to the next level. On the contrary: I believe no single process will work for everyone. But I do believe adopting a strategic process is important. Without one (to torture the metaphor one last time), you’ll probably find yourself standing on a crowded hill on a sunny day, shocked by nothing more than your failure.


While I was away

In Connecting to Communicate, social media, uhm, Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

Forgive me, social media world, for I have sinned. It’s been weeks since my last blog post.

I won’t bore you with the whys and wherefores. But I will, uhm, enlighten you with some lessons learned.

  • Those darned cobbler’s kids. I had never heard the story about the cobbler (for you young’uns, that’s a shoemaker) whose children went shoeless because he was so busy making shoes for others until I worked in an agency — where we routinely struggled to maintain our own marketing/communications/website/etc. because we were so busy working for our clients.  It’s easy to let it happen, as I’ve learned in the past few weeks. The lesson? It takes perseverance, energy and focus to maintain your own social media efforts when you’re busy advocating for your clients.
  • A life of its own. Interesting thing: Even though I’ve not posted anything new for a couple of weeks, the graph showing hits on my blog still fluctuated daily. Granted, traffic was slower than usual, but it still jumped up and down from day to day, even without new info. The lesson? The conversation will take place, with or without you. It’s certainly better to be a part of it.
  • You’ve got to feed the beast. One reason I wasn’t blogging? I wasn’t reading as much national and marketplace news. And so I had nothing fresh or timely to talk about. The lesson? Social media demands freshness. Stay in touch or you won’t have anything to say.
  • Somebody might notice. A couple of people commented on my silence, wondering what was up. The lesson? You might not realize it, but some people are actually paying attention.
  • A lot of people won’t notice … or care. Beyond the few people who mentioned my absence, there are quite a few others who have read my posts in the past but, apparently, didn’t notice my absence. They never wrote, never called, nuthin’.  The lesson? It’s a short-attention-span world. Keep up or you’ll be forgotten.
  • The world didn’t end. Nobody died because I missed a few blog posts. No wars broke out. Nobody’s business went belly-up (granted, the Dow did a 1,000-point drop-and-bounce, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t my fault). More important: Our business didn’t go belly up, our clients got what they needed, and the sun came up every morning. The lesson? Social media matters, but it’s not critical to anybody’s existence.

My intent, of course, is that this will be the beginning of re-engagement … that I’ll pick up where I left off and have something worthwhile to say every few days. And that you’ll forgive me for my absence.