Our COVID-19 winter has seen the start of many social media marketing trends. But, one I find particularly interesting–the Twitter Watch Party.
After all, it wasn’t too long ago that many people (including me) were saying Twitter was essentially dead as a social media marketing tool (my podcast co-host, Kevin Hunt, said Twitter and Facebook were useless social marketing tools on our most recent show!).
But, this recent post highlights the fact that Twitter Watch Parties have been a successful tactic for a number of brands during the pandemic. This quick video showcases some of those wins:
Physically distant. Socially connected.
Here’s how Twitter watch parties are bringing people together. pic.twitter.com/6kIuCwCixg
— Twitter Marketing (@TwitterMktg) July 29, 2020
Now, I know what you’re thinking. These are mostly big cultural events. Why would it make sense for my brand to get involved?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Because, I think there might be more opportunity than you might think.
Consider the recent start to the NBA season. Ratings for these games will most likely be off-the-charts. I was even watching pre-season games!
Or, what about the wildly popular, Last Dance? Why couldn’t Nike have hosted a Watch Party for each episode as they were released using different NBA players (and Nike spokespeople) as hosts? Um, that would have been fantastic! I mean, each episode kind of had its own watch party on Twitter anyway? Why couldn’t Nike have just created its own hashtag with its own host and just been a part of that conversation on Twitter (which, as I remember it, was substantial)?
Or, keeping with the sports angle, what about a Minnesota Twins watch party sponsored by a beer company (small or big)? Couldn’t long-time blogger and podcaster, John Bonnes, host something like that? Wouldn’t people tune in to chat about one of the hottest teams in baseball (damn, I wrote this last week when they actually were the hottest team in baseball)?
Or, what about a retro watch party? I’ve always been a huge West Wing fan? What if Bradley Whitford (who’s surprisingly active on Twitter) hosted a weekly watch party of the best West Wing episodes? Given its politics, couldn’t Ben & Jerry’s sponsor something like this?
Just a few ideas off the top. But, increasingly, I like the idea of these Watch Parties. And who knows, maybe they’ll stick around after COVID is in our rear-view mirror.
What’s our hash tag strategy?
It’s a question I think every company has asked itself or its agency partner over the last 10 years. And, it’s a question I’ve written about before.
But a recent Social Media Examiner article got me thinking about hash tags again. Specifically if and how people are using them. This particular author seems to think a lot of people are using them–on LinkedIn. He says “… follow relevant LinkedIn hashtags to keep track of trends and developments in your area of expertise.”
Really? I’ve been using LinkedIn for going on 8-plus years now and I don’t think I’ve followed a hash tag ONCE in those 8 years.
But, I’m just one person, right? What about the masses? I thought I’d ask my LinkedIn community that exact question. Do people use hash tags to track industry conversations and topics on LinkedIn? Here’s what 9 people had to say
JASON DRURY, SENIOR MARKETER, THOMSON REUTERS – I follow #b2bmarketing because I’m pretty contrarian to accepted dogma and intend to spend the rest of my career advancing business marketing toward the high standards set by consumer marketers 😉 The hashtag has marginal utility. (editor’s note: That’s a no, in case that’s unclear!)
STEPHEN DUPONT, VP-CONTENT, POCKET HERCULES – Yes, I do, but I primarily search for company or organization hashtags. For example, if I want to see posts on LinkedIn where #prsa is included, that gives me industry news from a PRSA perspective. (editor’s note: That’s a “kind of” in my view)
EMILY NEGRIN, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS, GEOSYS – Yes – both for me personally and for work. I just counted and I have 17 the I’m following. I like that it helps to fill my feed with content and topics outside of my immediate network. I have ones like #agtech, #climatechange, #agribusiness that I follow for business but then I also follow things like #branding, #digitalmarketing and others that relate more to my area of expertise. Then a few like #futurism or #editorspicks that give me other topics to think about or consider. For business pages, the hashtags let you engage with content as a brand (but you are limited to three, so I change them out from time to time). (editor’s note: OK, so this is a big yes!)
ERIC WHEELER, SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT LEAD, PATTERSON COMPANIES – I do follow some of the main social media hashtags such as #socialmedianews, #contentstrategy, #twitter, and #facebook. Although they do appear in my news feed, I’m not necessarily checking in on each hashtag. I like to keep tabs on these hashtags to stay on top of the latest trends and news in social media marketing. I also follow a few dental industry hashtags for work; largely for the same reasons, but also to see if there is any content worth engaging with from our company page, to see what our competitors and vendors are doing, and to generally see what industry folks are discussing.
CASEY HALL, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT, LUMBERJACK SOCIAL – I do! For myself, #EmployeeAdvocacy and #SocialSelling most often. I use it to find relevant articles/case studies to read and occasionally share. I’ll also follow industry-specific hashtags to keep up with news and people for specific clients. In that case it might be #ClinicalTrials or #CloudStorage or whatever area I’m working with.
JAMIE PLESSER, ASSISTANT DEAN-MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS, CARLSON SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT – Honestly, no. I occasionally add them to job posts on LinkedIn but never use them beyond that nor research based on them. Hashtags have never really seem natural to LinkedIn for me.
CHRIS MARTIN, VICE PRESIDENT, DAVID JAMES GROUP – I’ll use hashtag COVID19 to curate content for my medical client. LinkedIn also offers a ready-made list of curated content in that area.
KIM INSLEY, SENIOR SPECIALIST-PR, DIGITAL RIVER – Yes – #ecommerce is generally my go to. While it’s not a niche term, it’s hard to sift through things in my feed and it helps to narrow it down. I will say I probably search more for people than hashtags. I generally want to know what interests that specific person because I am researching them or their company for content I’m producing.
OK, so I’m in the minority. My research with these nine folks really surprised me. I really didn’t think most people were using hashtags on LinkedIn. But, most of these nine were!
Despite my 9-person research panel, I’m standing by my theory and assumption. I still don’t think the majority of people use hash tags on LinkedIn. Instagram? Maybe. LinkedIn? No.
My working theory (based on a basic human tendency): People are lazy.
Searching for hash tags takes effort! People are lazy! No one should be surprised by that claim in 2020.
I would argue most people use LinkedIn in one of three key ways:
- The 10-minute scroll. People looking to learn something new, stay on top of what’s going on, and keeping up with the industry. These folks may check in on LinkedIn a couple times a week. They scroll their feeds for 5-10 minutes and they’re out.
- The job seeker. These folks are looking for jobs–it’s one of the primary reasons people use LinkedIn, right? They’re looking for one thing–opportunities. They start in the jobs tab. And, they might peruse the feed for a few minutes. But, they’re certainly not searching hash tags.
- The power user. Power users are adept at using LinkedIn for its strength–data and insights. That means researching PEOPLE. That means looking for opportunities to participate in the feed. It doesn’t mean searching hash tags like #digitalmarketing.
I would also argue, much like Jason states above, if you do follow one or more of these hash tags, they’re really not that useful.
Let’s test this theory. Let’s take a peek at two easy ones: #socialmedia and #digitalmarketing.
First, #socialmedia. Here’s the top two posts:
A job opportunity (not even close to where I live) and essentially an ad for Harvard Business.
And, get this, here was the next post:
Yep, pretty much spam. The fourth and fifth top posts did feature some content that was mildly interesting and timely.
OK, what about #digitalmarketing?
Again, here was the TOP item under the hash tag of #DIGITALMARKETING!
So, completely irrelevant. Surely, the second top item will be insightful!
Resources for parents? Clearly another irrelevant and off-topic ad. What about #3?
The actual type of post most people hate on LinkedIn! ARGH!
This is exactly why I don’t follow hash tags on LinkedIn. Now, it appears they work for other people, which is great. But, during the course of developing this post, I checked these hash tags regularly, and I saw similar results each time.
So, I guess I stand by my theory: Hash tags aren’t useful on LinkedIn. But, maybe not, in pockets? I can tell you it doesn’t work for me. It’s just not how I choose to use LinkedIn. But, as you saw above, it works for some people–and in certain sectors, I could see that.
What do you think? Do you use hash tags to search for content on LinkedIn? Why or why not?
A few weeks ago, friend, partner and client, Stacia Nelson, made the following post on her Facebook page.
The message: Don’t tell me I can’t achieve that huge goal. I’LL SHOW YOU!
That post resonated with me a ton, because it’s exactly what I’ve used to motivate myself throughout my life and career.
I remember when I was an aspiring high school golfer, people said “you’ll never play in the State Tournament. No one from Woodbury has ever done that.” A couple years later, as a junior, I had played my way into the Minnesota State High School League Tournament–the first Woodbury player to ever do so (we won’t talk about the 88-91 I shot in my two days in the tournament though!).
My motivation? To prove to those people who said I couldn’t that I could.
Plain and simple.
Fast forward 20 years. As I considered starting my own business 11+ years ago, I remember people saying: “You’ll never work with Fortune 500 companies. They already have big agencies they work with. Why would they hire a solo like you.”
11+ years later, I would put my client list up against any big agency in town. Over the last decade I’ve worked with Walmart, Walgreens, Sleep Number, Cargill, Trane, Thermo King, Toro, Dairy Queen, Carlson Companies, General Mills, Mortenson, Thomson Reuters, Starkey and many others.
My motivation? Don’t tell me who I can’t work with. I can and will work with Fortune 500 companies.
A number of years ago, I remember talking to people about serving as an adjunct professor–specifically at St. Thomas where I really wanted to teach. “You need an MBA,” many said. “You don’t have teaching experience,” others said. A couple years later, with the help of Aaron Zaslofsky and Bruce Morehouse, I was teaching my first class.
My motivation? I’ll show you I can teach at St. Thomas! You will not tell me that I cannot do this!
I’ve made a living out of proving people wrong. I’ll be honest and more specific: I LOVE proving people wrong. It’s just a motivational thing for me.
For those that watched the Jordan documentary recently, you may recall MJ literally making up incidents in his head of other players slighting him, calling him “old” or minimizing his skills. He used this as motivation to raise his game to the next level.
That’s kinda how I feel when someone tells me I can’t do something.
My most recent example: skiing.
I started this past winter as a way to spend time outdoors in the winter with my wife and daughter (we took lessons at nearby Hyland Hills in Bloomington). I remember some people saying “aren’t you a little old to start skiing?” and “skiing’s pretty tough to pick up at age 47!”.
Once again, I set out to prove those people wrong. This last winter, we took lessons and bought a pass at Welch Village near Red Wing. I probably went skiing 5 times in Feb. alone–and I got better each time. I’m not skiing Black Diamonds yet (far from it, actually), but I’m skiing. And, I’m working toward that goal (next up: skiing a big mountain out west!).
It will never stop. I’m a goal-oriented person. And, a very competitive person. So, I need that motivation.
What mechanisms do you use to keep yourself motivated?
One of the most successful (most viewed) posts I’ve ever made on this blog was this post about how people (at the time–but still today, really) were over-using ridiculous phrases like “peeps” and “obvi” to the point of driving me insane!
I think I remember writing that post in about 10 minutes. I wrote it hot. I saw a post by a friend using one of those terms, and I just wrote it. It just came out. But, it was real. Honest. Raw.
And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years in developing social media content: It’s that these types of posts almost always perform best.
I’ve been coaching a leader here in Minneapolis around his/her personal use of social media to build brand for his/herself and his/her business. And, this concept keeps coming up.
My theory: Write when you’re hot because:
1 – It’s more real, raw and honest, like I said above. And, that’s often what people want from their leaders. I’m not saying don’t edit yourself, but I am saying write in the moment when you have the idea or feeling. If you shelve the idea for a week, the moment might pass. Your passion may be absent. It just won’t be the same.
2 – It will capture and capitalize on the moment. Often, writing when you’re hot is a reaction to a trend, event or quote someone else may have said (see my example above). By getting your thoughts quickly down on virtual paper, you’re able to seize the moment. Speed is important sometimes. And sure, it may not be perfect. But, I would argue B work is pretty damn good 95% of the time. You don’t always need to produce A+ work (in fact, I think that concept is completely unattainable anyway). That’s a big mindset shift for a lot of people in our industry, but I firmly believe it’s 100% true.
Now, this rule seems to fly in the face of more traditional advice, doesn’t it? When you’re hot, we’ve been told to cool off before sending. I remember reading something about Abraham Lincoln that he would write scathing letters to his generals, then sit on them for a few days. Eventually, he ended up throwing them away!
Now, this may be good advice when it comes to leadership (that was the gist of the book I read, at least), but when it comes to writing compelling social media content in the current environment, I stick by my “write when you’re hot” mantra.
I’m not saying you want to fire off wild political posts or crazy posts about COVID right now. But, I am saying it’s OK to write about a topic, passionately, IN THE MOMENT. RIGHT NOW. While you’re excited/passionate/interested in.
Not a week from now.
Not a day from now.
Not an hour from now.
While you’re hot.
We all have that friend or colleague. You know the one. That person with the social media profile shot that doesn’t exactly match their actual appearance.
Or, to be more blunt: their social media profile shot looks nothing like them.
In some cases, it’s a profile shot from 10+ years ago—making the person look younger.
In other cases, it’s almost like a “Glamour shot” (I know I’m dating myself with that reference)—which essentially is a “best self” shot.
There are many reasons people take this approach—and, in most of those cases, I don’t actually fault them.
People gain weight (mostly, as they get older).
People get wrinkes (again, age is a factor).
People lose hair (I can attest to this!).
I mean, I get it. Many of us don’t always love our appearance. And, as we get older, that’s only accentuated.
But here’s the thing. Social media is designed to be, well, social. And, that means you’re often using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Insta to get to know other people—as authentically as possible (at least, that’s what I would think).
When you start developing that new relationship with what amounts to a phony head shot, you’re not starting off on the right foot and building trust.
I had one friend who said she went to meet a person she had met on LinkedIn for coffee. She sat down, waiting for the person to show—only to find out she was sitting next to her for a long time. The person looked NOTHING like their head shot! It was an embarrassing situation.
And that’s the point. You start the relationship with, essentially, a lie. A little white lie. But, a lie nonetheless.
This hits home for me, too. Take a look at my profile shot on LinkedIn. It’s not the best shot. As I’ve aged (I’m now 47), I’ve developed a receding hairline, like many men. I’m not bald yet, but my hair is definitely thinning on top (the front top). It’s embarassing, but it’s who I am. It’s part of my appearance now. So, I figure, why run from it? Sure, I try to make the best of it by doing some different things with my hair, but for the most part, I’m not running from it. What you see is what you get.
I think back to Planes, Trains and Automobiles–one of my favorite movies. There’s a great qoute from John Candy in that movie–something to the effect of “I like me. My Mom likes me. My friends like me.”
That’s kinda the crux of this little white lie. There’s no need for it. Because, most people you know (that matter, at least), already like you. They don’t care that you’re balding. They don’t care that you have wrinkles. They don’t care that you don’t dye your hair anymore. They like you.
For who you are.
So, stop pretending. Be that person. Warts and all.
In real life. And, on social media.