Last week at the Solo PR Summit in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to present TWICE to a group of 80-100 solo PR counselors from around the country.
The first topic I presented on: Facebook advertising. The second: Keeping up with social media.
This isn’t a topic that’s specific to solo PRs by any stretch. Almost *everyone* I talk to struggles with this in one way, shape or form.
So, I thought I’d share my strategies for how I try to pull it off. Note I say “try”. Admittedly, I struggle, too. I struggle with getting sucked into Facebook each day. I struggle with professional FOMO. And, I struggle with keeping up on the glut of reading that I believe people like us need to do on a semi-regular basis.
I’m not promising any of these tips/approaches will alleviate your stress–but I hope you can find one or two takeaways in this presentation. I’ll be posting about a few more of the tips in this larger prezo in the weeks ahead.
Got any tips of your own? Share ’em in the comments! We can all get smarter together!
Disposable social media–it’s “all the rage” (as my wife likes to say) among teens these days. Media outlets are claiming teens are turning to tools like Snapchat and Poke to share lewd messages–“sexting”, apparently, is running rampant across our world.
But, beyond the buzzwords, what is disposable social media all about? And why is it suddently so popular?
I decided to ask friend and fellow digital marketer, Greg Swan, a few questions about it since he has shown an interest and “passion” for disposable social media lately.
You’ve said before that you prefer “disposable social media” like Poke and Snapchat to more “traditional social media” like Twitter and Facebook. Why?
Disposable social media is a term I’ve started using to categorize online and social content that will not last forever. Unlike things cached by Google or our tweets stored in the Library of Congress, there is a new breed of social networking tools that purposefully don’t let its users archive or retrieve content once it has been viewed. As someone who spends their days concerned about online reputation management for my clients (and myself), this is quite refreshing.
Although there are those people who share too much and/or inappropriate content on social media, for the most part we humans are comfortable translating our censorship and self-aggrandizing skills from the real world to our social channels. Our profile pictures and cover images reflect our ideal state.
Our shared photos are perfectly cropped and filtered. Our bios are concise yet witty. Part of the appeal of an online persona is the ability to shape what we share with others — and what we don’t. We all now Stepford Wives. With the exception of the odd political post, a quick audit of my social channels show my friends, fans and followers are all in love with their jobs, significant others and perfect kids.
Everyone is traveling to exotic locations and/or eating the most wonderful-looking food. They are all master photographers and chefs, super parents and community organization leaders. Oh, and everyone is SO FUNNY. I mean, just really funny. And thanks to tools like Timehop, these beautiful, clever, exotic status updates, photos, checkins and shares can be relieved easy and often.
Disposable media is low-risk. It won’t last forever – on purpose!
I’ve sent people content through Facebook Poke I would never share on Facebook, Twitter and certainly not LinkedIn. Uncombed hair and unshaven face pictures. Food that didn’t look appetizing that I was eating anyway. Video of my kids not wearing pants at 2 p.m. screaming at me. You know – the life stuff you wouldn’t share on social media but that you might share with a friend (if it was lightweight enough and you knew it couldn’t be saved). I also use it for comedic terrorism, of which I cannot ever have my fill when it comes to my circle of friends.
Snapchat and Poke claim media (photos, videos) shared on their platforms are disposable. That is, they are deleted within 3-10 seconds after the user opens it. But, many media outlets have recently outlined hacks to get to that “disposable” media after its deleted. Do you see this as an obstacle for these tools and users? Or, are these media claims completely overblown? Do users even care, given the relative complexity of the hacks?
We humans have short memories. Only recently has it been physically possible to store every photo, save every email and review every text message every sent. Printed photos would fade and notes passed in sixth grade science class weren’t meant to archived for the duration of one’s life (and beyond!). We have quickly become accustomed to having access to everything we do online and on our phones – forever. These new apps are challenging data permanency. Will there be hacks and work-arounds? Yes, until those are closed (then there will be new hacks and work-arounds, etc. etc.).
Snapchat vs. Poke what do you think will win out over time? Why?
I don’t really care who has the legacy, because we’ll just move to that. Supposedly Facebook offered to buy Snapchat, was rebuffed and built Poke in 12 days. Twelve days! The social web starts and ends with Facebook, and they have an automatic market. But the diaspora of youth to non-Facebook destinations shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with AOL, Friendster and (old) Myspace.
Facebook’s Poke was briefly #1 on the App Store’s list, but has fallen back signficantly since Dec. Does Poke have a future as a Snapchat rival?
Again, I’m not really focused on the apps themselves but more at how they add value to help solve a problem while influencing our behavior at interacting with one another.
Recently it seems like tools like Snapchat have been a trend with younger people (teens, especially)–do you see the coveted 25-44 demographic adopting these tools in the months/years ahead? Why or why not?
Teenagers like these apps for sexting. They do. But why? Because it’s disposable media. That’s the value proposition; not the chance to flash someone their private parts. If older generations find value in sending short bursts of content (text, photo, video), they will. And if they don’t, it didn’t offer enough value to attract users.
You’ve mentioned the term “success theater” before in our conversations–what do you mean by that? And how has that shaped how we participate in social media to date?
Everyone should this this NYT piece (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/digital-diary-facebook-poke-and-the-tedium-of-success-theater/). Just as offline reputation matters in the meat-space (aka real world), one’s personal online reputation management can increasingly make or break the chance to land a job, keep a client, join a club or find a date. People spend hours crafting the perfect online profile and obsess Google results for their name. And that’s great. I counsel clients to do exactly this exercise, and we help them craft proactive reputation programs to influence what the public discovers and learn about key brands and individuals.
But the tedium of success theater, or strategically-constructed-online-reputation, can grow weary. I think especially for people in the PR industry, this is true. We are meticulous about photos we’ve been tagged in, search-optimize our profiles and more or less neuter our truest personality in social due to the long-term effects of data permanency. For example, if I have a bad experience at a big box store, with my cable provider or at a restaurant, I’m absolutely not going to bitch about it online. But I might share a Poke or Snapchat to a small group of friends…. if I knew it would never come back. I might also share a photo of myself not looking well-groomed or with dirty dishes in the sink in the background – and not think twice about it.
Is there opportunity for brands with disposable social media? What kinds of brands?
Perhaps, but to be honest the examples I’ve seen so far aren’t compelling, and my fear is that brands will have awkward requirements and/or ruin the trend. I guess that puts the pressure on us to come up with the genius idea, Arik.
Should marketers and PR folks have disposable media on their radar at this point or is it just way too early?
Marketers should absolutely be thinking about the human behavior of wanting to share content that will not live forever and be thinking about how that impacts their brands or clients. I recommend downloading every app and checking out every mobile experience you hear about. Then test it long enough to know how it works, and determine if it adds value to you or your client. If it does, move forward. If it doesn’t wait for the next thing. And keep in mind, there’s always a next thing.
Greg Swan is the vice president of digital strategy at Weber Shandwick (Minneapolis office). He was one of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2011 and also blogs at Perfect Porridge.
Last week, a friend sent me and a few other friends a note asking us if we were actively using Path, a relatively new social network. This friend (who shall remain nameless) was asking because he/she thought it seemed like a lot of the more, shall we say “prolific”, folks in our industry were using Path and he/she felt like he/she might be missing the boat.
My response was this:
“I used it for a while, then it became just another network to keep up, so I don’t really participate any longer. But I know a bunch of folks that love it. For me, I can barely keep up with my blog, Twitter, FB and IG (with much more focus on IG personally lately).”
Another friend chimed in with this:
“I use Path sporadically. I’m finding that more and more people I know are using it. I also am much more selective about who I connect with on there. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, so for me, I spend my time on Twitter, IG and the other time is split between FB and Path. The type of content people share on Path is very different, so I do like seeing the less polished and more “human” side of people on Path. It’s cool.”
And, a third friend added this:
“I checked out Path when it first launched. Like Arik, I just don’t have the ability to spend more time on yet another network. Finding time for Google+ is tough enough. Path is based on a limited network, so I think age/generation is a big factor here. Most of my close IRL network/friends/family aren’t social media fanatics. They are mostly just on Facebook, where I’m finding I spend most of my time these days. If I had close friends that I wanted to share my whereabouts and things (that I don’t want the whole world to see) with who.”
The bigger issue here, of course, is how do we decide WHERE to spend our time online? Which social networks to we participate in? Why? And to what end? It’s not really about Path–it’s about managing our time and figuring out where we want to spend it.
For me, I’ve strategically chosen to spend time on the following networks, for the following reasons:
* Blog–probably the place where I spend the most time, given all the time I spend researching, planning and writing my posts (and commenting). Time spent: 40%.
* Facebook–where I share personal anecdotes and pics of my family, from time to time. This is mostly personal stuff (outside of sharing the occasional blog post). Time spend: 20%.
* Twitter–I still spend some time on Twitter, mostly sharing industry posts (and my own) and asking questions of industry colleagues, and participating in the random Twitter chat from time to time. Time spent: 10%
* Instagram–Find myself spending more time here, especially when I’m on vacation or on the weekends/weeknights, when I’m off at an event for my kids, or at events with my friends (Gopher basketball games coming up!). Time spend: 15%
* LinkedIn–Spending more time here lately, too. Simply because more of my posts are shared there (relevance) and I connect with more potential business contacts there. Time spent: 15%.
You’ll notice I don’t spend any significant time on Path, Pinterest or Google+, notably. Gasp–a digital marketer who’s NOT active on EVERY social network! Yeah, that’s right. I simply don’t have the time, and I’d rather show up in a few spots fairly well, than show up in 10 spots haphazardly. It doesn’t mean I don’t know how those social networks work–it simply means I don’t personally spend time there.
So, what about you? What social networks are you active on personally? And how do you decide which to spend time on and which to avoid?
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re stuck in meetings all day. You have absolutely no time. Yet your boss is asking you to stay on top of all things social media-related. And, you need more information to do your job more effectively–and efficiently. And you want to stay smarter about industry trends.
Did I get that about right?
Yeah, I know I got it right. Because that’s the reality for me. And, if it’s a reality for me, I’m guessing it’s a reality for lots of you out there.
This is the topic I presented on at the Southern Public Relations Federation Conference in Destin, Fla., yesterday to a group of PR professionals from Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
In my presentation (see the full Prezi below), I lay out 8 strategies for staying up-to-date on all the changes, new products/tools and trends in the digital world. Let’s get to it!
Strategy #1: Read 100 blogs in 15 minutes a day
I start most days by scanning my Feedly page. For the uninitiated, Feedly is a blog reader tool (much like Google Reader). I use Feedly because I like the way it’s laid out, but most folks use Google Reader. You can use either. The point is, get organized about your blog reading system. I organize my blogs by geography (MN blogs), discipline (PR, social media, mobile), clients (industry blogs) and other miscellaneous categories (fun, business blogs, etc.). With Feedly, I can scan headlines of these blogs in about 15 minutes a day (I give myself a hard stop). I look for posts that would be relevant to clients–and interesting to me. I bookmark those I think meet those criteria, maybe share them on Twitter/Facebook and move on. 100 blogs in 15 minutes. Believe it.
Strategy #2: Scan and Save
This is where a social bookmarking tool called Diigo does some serious heavy lifting for me. I use Diigo to not only archive posts (by tags/topics), but also to share them using the handy little Diigo bookmarklet on Diigo (see below).
My Diigo archive is a goldmine of articles and blog posts I’ve saved over the last 5-6 years. I use these articles and posts in presentations, client decks, blog posts and for reference in client meetings from time to time. It’s invaluable information–and it’s all at my fingertips because of this “scan and save” process I’ve developed (not all that groundbreaking, keep in mind). Other folks use tools like Instapaper and Delicious–which is fine. Everyone has tools like prefer. The point is develop a process where you can scan and save a lot of posts/articles on the Web quickly and efficiently.
Strategy #3: Maximize downtime
You know that time you waste each day standing in line for coffee, on the bus commuting or (gulp) in the bathroom (don’t lie, you know you do it)? You need to start using that time to your advantage. Use tools like Flipboard, Reeder (iPhone app) and Cadmus (great tool for catching up with what you missed on Twitter since you last signed in–see below) to keep on top of industry trends and business news. You have to maximize your downtime.
Strategy #4: Make Twitter lists your new BFF
A colleague and I lamented this point a couple months ago: Why don’t more people take advantage of Twitter lists? They give you a great way to make Twitter smaller. Consider the opportunities. Twitter lists to follow industry thought leaders. Twitter lists to follow bloggers you want to get to know better. You can even create private Twitter lists to follow competitors, industry influencers and other folks you don’t want your competitors or others seeing. What’s more, you can steal OTHER PEOPLE’S Twitter lists for you own. That’s right–why do all the work when someone else may have already done it. For example, I follow a list Lee Odden created called “MinneTweeple.” It’s a great list of interactive marketers and PR folks in the Twin Cities. Use Twitter lists to your advantage to make Twitter smaller–and more manageable–on a daily basis.
Strategy #5: Turn on the radio
Obviously I’m not talking about THE radio. That went out of style about 15 years ago, right? 🙂 I’m talking about podcasts. Again, think about your downtime. Specifically, think about the time you’re captive, where you have nothing to do but the task at hand. For me, it’s moving the lawn. I throw in the ear buds and spend 45 minutes mowing the lawn AND listening to my favorite podcast (and thus, getting smarter about my craft). My favorite? The long-running For Immediate Release, Marketing Over Coffee and Jay Baer’s new podcast, Social Pros where he interviews front-line social media folks doing REAL work. Very useful.
Strategy #6: Keep tabs on news in your industry
You know, there’s an easy way to do this. It’s called Google Alerts. Set them up for journalists, keywords, even competitors in your industry. But, I also discovered a new tool called Newsle recently (thanks Heather Whaling!) that serves you up alerts (emails) each time one of your LinkedIn, Facebook or email database contacts is featured in a news story. Might not seem like much, but this gives you a great way to keep tabs on journalists you’re trying to develop relationships with, colleagues in the industry, business partners and other influencers. All of which you want to stay connected to. Here’s an example of an email I received on a news story friend and local agency leader Blois Olson was featured in recently.
Strategy #7: Read blogs/sources that curate content weekly
One thing I learned a while ago when it comes to curating content. If someone else is doing it better than you, steal from them 😉 I shamelessly do this with my friend Heather Whaling’s blog, which curates the best posts from the previous week on her blog, PRTini. Why should I reinvent the wheel? Heather already has all the spokes in place. Or, what about Social Media Examiner’s weekly roundup? Or, what about Sarah Evans’ daily Commentz enewsletter? One of the few enewsletter I read on a regular basis. Don’t do all the work yourself–seek out those sources that already exist and use that information to your advantage.
Strategy #8: Curate your own content
Curating your own content can be just as powerful as reviewing others that have done it for you. Especially when there are tools that can do the curating for you. Like Paper.li. Many folks use Paper.li as a tool to curate content and then share that content on Twitter. I, however, use Paper.li to curate content and consume it myself. Why? Because Paper.li does all the heavy lifting–and serves me up a daily/weekly digest of posts from people Paper.li thinks I find influential/interesting. Pretty handy, right? See below for an example.
Anything you’d add? Oh, and here’s the full Prezi below:
I’m taking a rare week “off”–which means I’m also trying to unplug for 9 days (we’ll see if I’m successful). So, I thought I’d ask some other smart people to post here in my stead–starting with Tyler Orchard, who’s going to talk about testing your social strategies. Here’s hist post.
We operate in a world that is both unpredictable and uncertain. We strive to minimize loss, failure and waste by being prepared, ready and deliberate. Planning begets success – isn’t that the reality of this industry? Preparation, research and calculated risk are the standard operating procedures to remain innovative and forward thinking.
Strategic planning is akin to a roadmap that has planned every move, decision and action. While some may argue detail isn’t always an aid, it is a necessary function within any industry. What people have forgot is that although ideas, strategies and tactics may seem disreputable on paper or the whiteboard, what evidence do we have that proves the assumptions at its core?
Testing can be perceived as a tactic that isn’t fitting for larger companies or creative campaigns. Many believe it should be preserved for startups. However, the assumptions that one holds should not be perceived as definite—that is until proven to be more than mere hypotheses and unqualified beliefs.
The benefits of social media are vast, but they are not guaranteed—nor are they static and predictable. They are malleable, fluid and never the same. Many companies perceive social media to be a sales function; to others it may be used for crisis management, market research or thought leadership. While each strategy may be appropriate, they are all born on assumptions.
A Company’s Assumptions
Whether it is consciously identified with or not, a company will hold certain assumptions that influence decisions. These assumptions—or hypotheses—are necessary for innovation because they are unique, cutting-edge and focused on growth. For example, the company that wants to become the industry’s thought leader chooses to employ a social media strategy that occupies LinkedIn and a blog. This company is taking significant action on numerous assumptions, which include:
- The company has content that adds value to the conversation,
- People want to learn about the company’s insights, views and ideas,
- LinkedIn/blog is a better source than Twitter, Youtube and Facebook,
- A robust thought leadership profile will yield benefits that matter to the company,
- Social media is a better platform than other means.
While this list is not finite, it presents several high-level assumptions that, if incorrect, would result in a waste of resources and diminish ROI in its entirety.
How to Approach Assumptions
Everyone has assumptions that they believe to be true. Many decisions within an organization are made based on those assumptions—others are grounded in evidence. Some of those ideas and decisions may in fact revolutionize industries, markets and products. However, in order to limit waste (capital, human and time) success is dependent on whether that assumption was correct in the first place.
Therefore, we need to test these assumptions in a way that allows a company to learn. If these tests indicate that the assumption (or idea) is correct, a company can implement a strategy that it can be comfortable will yield benefits. However, if the tests indicate that the initial assumption was wrong, it can absorb that data in an effort to either reconstruct the model or abandon the initial idea and shift towards a new objective. It’s much like employing a trial run that generates two streams of action.
The company who seeks to increase their thought leadership through LinkedIn and a blog can in fact test their assumptions in a way that reveals significant insight, but only requires a minimum level of implementation (number below correspond to the assumptions above).
- Run a simple SWOT analysis that identifies areas of current saturation and opportunity. If the company’s thought leadership content and ideas fall within the saturated side of the equation, the strategy needs to be adjusted. However, if the current content is operating in a field of its own, there is a prospect to pursue.
- Listen and learn from what is currently going on in this space and analyze if there is even a desire from the audience to consume this type of content.
- Compare Twitter/Facebook/YouTube to LinkedIn/blogs. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both? What does it mean to the company?
- Employ a weeklong pilot program. One for LinkedIn, perhaps focusing on answering questions on a daily basis. Another for blogging, perhaps a guest post. This allows the company to test content, receptiveness and its value-add index.
- Consolidate the data/insight from pervious thought leadership marketing strategies and compare them to the limited offering from point four. If the company can only choose one strategy, why is it choosing social media? Remember, it comes down to creating value for the company.
It is counterintuitive to deploy a multichannel content strategy that is based solely on an assumption. A person wouldn’t invest in a company without performing due diligence, so why don’t companies take the same precautions with social media?
It’s because social media seems simple and the benefits easily obtainable.
Before kicking off a strategy that looks great on the whiteboard, break it down into its assumptions. Then, test those hypotheses through quantitative and empirical research to gain the insight that can inform a finalized decision.
Tyler is the Manager of Strategy and Social Media at Zync in Toronto, an award-winning brand and marketing communications agency. He also is the founder of Back Rank. After finishing his Masters degree, he spent time in political PR. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, his Blog or the Zync blog.
Note: Photo courtesy James Raymond via FlickR Creative Commons.