Dear Little Miss Social…

write1

Dear Little Miss Social

I confess to being genuinely at a loss when it comes to social media engagement in the form of liking other people’s posts. Should I be liking anything and everything from everybody, or just the one’s I actually like from the people I know?

Yours Sincerely,
Sally Blackmoore
Perth, Australia

 

Dear Gentle Reader

Whether to publicly like another’s social media post – or not – is a vexing issue, and one which is fraught with misguided intent and endless misinterpretation. The modern ‘like’ is a spring-trap which lays in wait for the uninitiated and where the consequences of a misstep can be socially fatal. But adherence to a few simple and commonsense rules will see you through.

Whenever you like a post from someone within your inner-circle you are ipso facto liking the person who posted it. This is its most popular use and serves the purpose of social bonding between one’s peers. But if you are liking the post of someone from an outer-circle or that of a complete stranger, you are most certainly indicating approval of the post itself – and not the person who published it. In either case, by liking a post you are signalling that you have at least seen the post. It is the digital equivalent of making eye-contact across the madding crowd and tipping one’s hat. In some instances this may be the precursor to a blossoming online relationship.

On occasion you might be inclined to like a post because you genuinely do like it. This should be made manifestly clear with the inclusion of a supporting comment or contextually relevant emoji. Care must be taken however when liking the post of a person who is expressing heightened spiritual, cerebral or physical agitation – for example, a picture of their freshly stubbed toe. To like this without a supporting comment or empathetic emodji  would be considered very poor taste indeed.

Liking a shared post performs a dual action. You are both liking the person who shared the post, and liking the post of the person who originally published it. All parties generally understand this to be the case.

On receiving a like one should never overtly acknowledge it with another like or comment – it is unnecessary and often leads to awkwardness.

Liking the last several posts at once from someone should be avoided if possible, as the value of a like diminishes in direct proportion to the elapsed time since it was published. Conversely, liking a post within 5 minutes of its publication is a mark of social excellence which is generally reserved for one’s inner, inner-circle connections – your besties.

It is both unacceptable and churlish to ever unlike a post. The exception to this rule is if the like is withdrawn within 30 seconds of granting it, providing leeway for an inadvertent like which happens to us all on occasion.

From time to time we are obliged to discharge a debt or balance the social ledger when a person has liked your last several posts with scrupulous consistency and rapidity. But care must be taken here, as a perceived haste to repay one’s obligation is a kind of ingratitude of itself. Yes, such debts must be paid with reciprocated likes, but in instalments.

So as you can see Gentle Reader, a like is not always a like – although of course sometimes it is.

 

 



So, what’s with the fish?

fish2

I won’t lie to you: I am holding a fish  – a Snapper to be precise – on the homepage of the NET:101 website. So what’s with that?

Fish is Fun

Why so serious? Everyone should unbutton a little and have more fun with their social media communications. People are attracted to brands on social who project their humanity. Snapper and I certainly know how to enjoy the occasional laugh.

Fish is Fresh

It’s different. Unusual. Fresh. Makes you look twice. Getting anyone to look at anything even once is hard enough.

Fish is Filter

When brands engage with people through social media it’s useful for them to let a little of their personality shine through. Recycled corporate comms look ridiculous in social media. The people who don’t ‘get’ the fish or the other fishesque elements of the NET:101 website are probably not ready for the course… it has strangely and befittingly become an attendee quality filter.

Fish is Food

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” A training course should do more than just pass on information, it should empower.

Fish is Fiction

Snapper has become a popular conversation-starter. There’s a brand story to be told. Stories stick, and brand stickiness in the minds of others is a good thing.

Fish is Freudian?

No, not Freudian at all – sometimes a fish is just a fish.

 



Social Media Private Dick

pd

‘Sam Spade, Registered Social Media Agent’ – at least that’s what the faded gold lettering on my office door says. Not that anyone cares much anymore… social media types are like pencils – everyone has a couple laying around somewhere, and most of them not as sharp as you’d like.

I poured my third bourbon for the morning and studied the fly walking across my keyboard. An overly precise knock at the door broke the hot silence of the room. It always starts this way, and I knew just how it would end.

“Mr. Spade?”

She was in her mid-thirties, tall, confident and dressed as crisply as a 100 dollar bill – the type that runs the corporate factories downtown. And probably as comfortable with interpreting an analytics report as she is applying lipstick in the dark.

I nodded wearily. As she moved towards my desk the shadows from the ceiling fan played across her face.

“I… we… the people I represent have a small problem, Mr Spade.”

And now we both do sister, I thought to myself.

“There’s been an incident. A marketing co-ordinator we let go won’t give us back the only login details to our Facebook brand page.”

I glanced at the fly on my keyboard which was now still. Probably dead. This city will suck the life out of anything given enough time.

“Awkward.” I said. “And now you’re looking for someone to clean up your little mess?”

“Well, yes. It’s a… delicate situation. We’re a big brand you see. We have profile. We can’t afford to made a public laughing-stock. Will you help?”

“It’s 25 hundred dollars a day plus expenses, Miss…?

“Huntington. Mrs. Huntington. And that’s a lot of money.”

“You should have thought of that before. Book yourself into a social media training course next time – the world could do with fewer delicate situations. Try NET:101, they’re good.”

“Very well Mr. Spade I’ll write you a cheque. And thanks for the advice.”

“Take a seat Mrs. Huntington and tell me from the beginning…”


There are many stories in the big city, this has been one of them.

 



Social Media and a Message from The Man


The Man at NET:101 got a message for you, so listen up good, let it be understood.

So here it come, here it is, social media is serious biz, but it’s the brothers and the sistas that make it fly, not the rap of some suited up sales guy.

Don’t sell, don’t shrill, they won’t take that pill.

Time to connect if you want their respect. Add value to their pot, doesn’t have to be a lot. Use your content to make them want.

Show them, teach them, inform them, guide them, make them feel you know what it’s like to be standing beside them.

Use your content in some clever ways, invest your time so it pays. Cos it ain’t about the likes and the number of fans, it’s about brand credibility in the minds of your clan.

Sales is good, but don’t chase too fast, infect your pool with them sales blasts. You ain’t no fool you know the cool – it’s why you did so well in school.

So listen to The Man from NET:101, he got the message to make it all hum, hum, hum.



The 4 Rungs of Social Media Adoption

ladder3

When I worked in the wine industry many moons ago we had certain classes of wines that were commonly referred to as ‘ladder wines’. These were grape varieties or styles that an individual would typically start enjoying as part of their wine journey – for most people it would stat with a sweet white such as a Spatlese Lexia. As a person’s palate matured they would move up a predicable ladder of taste sophistication to dryer whites, onto sweeter fruit-driven reds, and finally across to fuller-bodied, savoury reds.

A similar step-process plays out for organisations when it comes to the adoption (or non-adoption) of social media. These are the 4 commonly observable rungs.

Rung 1: Social Media, Unconvinced

All business professionals are ‘aware’ of social media at some level – they might use Facebook themselves to keep in touch with family, or observe their children engaging on any number of other platforms. But they are unconvinced it could ever deliver much in the way of business value. They can see other organisations who are active in the space but regard their own industry-sector as different – “It’s not relevant to what we do…”. It’s typically seen as an unwelcome distraction from the real business of business.

Rung 2: Social Media Experimental

Give it a go. The first tentative, experimental steps into social media are likely a Facebook page, a blog (as part of a new website build) and maybe a couple of YouTube videos. Most likely the blog will flounder in the first few months – it’s a bigger task than most people imagine to produce long-form text on a regular basis. The YouTube videos will sit out there and rack up a few views without doing any harm. Facebook will get the lion’s share of attention, after all it seems easy enough to push out a few product pics and announce the date of an upcoming clearance sale. The social media success measures at this experimental stage will likely be the public scoreboard of fan or follower numbers, rather than definable business goals.

Back to Rung 1: Social Media, Now Doubly Unconvinced

The initial push into social media loses momentum – the input required to maintain an active presence starts competing with other day-to-day demands. The lack of a visible business return is rightly being questioned. Maybe the person who first drove the entry into social media leaves, or the business just doesn’t want to keep paying an external agency or consultant for what now seems like a one-way flow of money (despite the accumulation of fans and followers). The organisation walks away form their social media, stepping back down onto the first rung.

Up to Rung 3: Social Media Glimmer of Hope

Something seems to be working… it could be as small as an inbound sales lead citing the organisation’s blog. Or referral traffic to the website is up and so are online enquiries. That fluid hydraulics video we posted on YouTube is now sitting at over 3000 views – people really seem interested in our stuff. And a small but highly engaged community has started hanging out on our Facebook business page… climb a rung.

Rung 4: Business as Usual

The question regarding social media shifts from ‘should we be doing it?’ to ‘how can we be doing it better?” Extra resources are typically allocated at this stage – a new part-time or full-time social media position might be created. A formal social media strategy is formulated with clear-cut objectives and measurable outcomes over extended timeframes.  A social media policy is codified. Quality content production becomes a priority. Other departments around the organisation are encouraged to get involved, to share in writing the blog, to answer technical questions, and to help the social media effort generally by sharing their expertise outside of their departmental silos.

Eventually the organisation ceases to refer to themselves as ‘doing social media’ anymore – the platforms, the content and the community become integrated into the organisation’s marketing, sales, customer service and communications mix to the point of invisibility. it’s now just business as usual.



Blogs are the Indian Rubber-Men of Online Publishing

It’s push-button publishing for the people… blogs are versatile, flexible and easy to use. Here’s what they can handle when you feel it’s time to get yourself or a brand out there:

 

Short-Form Text

Publish a short and snappy textural post if that’s all you need.

 

Long-Form Text

Or go as wide and deep as you need to when people need detailed content  – unlike most social media platforms there are no character number limitations.

 

Images

Add a header image, a series of supporting images or make it a self-contained single image.

content-strategy

 

Image Galleries

Create a gallery of images with column number control.

 

Anchor Text #1

Link readers quickly to another section of the post.

 

Internal and External Hyperlinking

Cross-reference to another blog post you’ve published or link to anywhere outside of your blog.

 

Streaming Video

Stream anything in from a video hosting platform such as YouTube or upload a video file and insert it.

 

Streaming Audio

Stream anything in from an audio hosting platform such as SoundCloud or upload an audio file and insert it.

 

Social Media Post Embeds
(Twitter example)

Grab the embed code from a specific social media post and insert (it retains its interactivity).

 General Embeds

 

 

Text Highlights

“Highlight a sentence or a quote to make it stand out from the body of the text.”

 

Downloads

invite readers to download a file or a PDF such as the NET:101 Advanced Social Media & Stratgey program.

 

Tables

Insert a formatted table with column and row number control.

Red Blue Green Yellow
Pink Brown Purple Orange
Indigo Violet White Black

 

Anchor Text #2

And now link back up to where you were.

 

Automatic Post Footer

View the upcoming courses links near bottom of this post.

 

Social Media Share Buttons

View them at very bottom of this post.

 

Comments

View the comments box at the very, very bottom of this post (all comments moderated by you of course).

 



The NET:101 Social Media Strategy Canvas

net101 canvas

As part of my NET:101 Advanced Social Media course I run a strategy canvas exercise which invites people to consider the different elements at play: core objectives, strategic objectives, content formats, platform selection and position (core, supporting, community), conversion bridges and conversion-point places with reportable measures.

Isolating and examining the different elements in turn assists in the formulation of a social media strategy which is aligned with your organisational objectives, and can be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Importantly, the objectives should be realistic against your organisation’s resource capabilities: level of social media expertise, management support, staff time and direct financial investment.

My preference is to work through the elements of the canvas in sequence from left to right, but as each element has it own dependencies for consideration they can be approached in any order. For example, understanding your limitations around the production of content may influence your stated objectives, or vice-versa. Regardless, all of the elements are interrelated and should be viewed collectively.

 

1. CORE OBJECTIVES

Every organisation, regardless of its commercial or not-for-profit orientation, is seeking to achieve one or all of the following core objectives:

  • Increase revenue
  • Decrease costs
  • Increase stakeholder satisfaction (in a commercial context, commonly referred to as retention)

A social media strategy should be driven by, and tangibly contribute to, at least one core objective. Identifying the core objective/s will determine the choice of strategic objective/s.

 

2. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES

Strategic objectives can be applied across all of your social media, to an individual social media platform, or to a specific organisational initiative, e.g. a campaign or entering a new market. Identify the primary, and in some cases the secondary or tertiary objectives in line with your core objective/s. These include:

  • Customer relations*
  • Crisis management*
  • Thought leadership/ subject matter expertise for brand credibility
  • Event support, promoting the ‘back-channel’
  • Leads & sales
  • Brand building (as measured by reach)
  • Advocacy
  • Recruitment

*NB: Customer relations and crisis management may not be strategic objectives, but public stakeholders may nonetheless use one or more of your social media platforms as customer service touch-points (for questions, comments or feedback) or gravitate to them during an incident or full-blown crisis. You may not want this to happen but it’s difficult to prevent.

 

3. CONTENT FORMATS
icons contnet

Content is the ‘media’ in social media. Organisations tend to underestimate the ongoing time and effort required to produce quality content to feed through to their online audiences. The types of content produced will be determined by which social media platforms have been chosen, the preferences of your target audiences, your resource and technical capabilities, and access to in-house subject-matter expertise. The main content formats include:

  • Short-form text
  • Long-form text
  • Images
  • Streaming video
  • Streaming audio

 

4. PLATFORM OPTIONS
icons platform

The social media platforms listed below are the main ones open to organisations today. To keep this canvas exercise simple there are notable exceptions such as generic forums and wikis, and platforms such as Snapchat, Tumblr and Vine. Platform options include:

  • Corporate blog*
  • Facebook
  • YouTube* (generically, streaming video)
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn personal (profile and publisher)
  • LinkedIn organisational (company, showcase and tertiary institution pages)
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Podcast (generically, streaming audio)
  • Google+*

*Any content published through these platforms has the advantage of  longevity because it can be crawled, indexed and indefinitely resurfaced by popular search engines such as Google.

 

5. PLATFORM FIRST OR CONTENT FIRST

Option A: Platform Drives Content
The selection of social media platform/s is determined by where the target audiences are already gathered (and in the mindset) against your stated strategic objectives. Then the focus becomes one of producing content in the appropriate format/s to publish through the platform. For example, Facebook requires short-form text (sharp copywriting) and images; a blog requires long-form text; Pinterest requires high quality images (that have been pinned from your website).

Option B: Content Drives Platform
The selection of social media platforms is determined by the formats of content your target audiences prefer to consume and engage with in line with your stated strategic objectives. Then the focus becomes one of choosing the appropriate platform/s to host and distribute your content, and to build your community. For example, audiences wanting subject-matter detail and depth might prefer long-form text, steaming video or audio which would necessitate a blog or YouTube or a podcast respectively. Or they might prefer image-based content in which case Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook could come into play as the host and engagement platforms of choice.

 

6. PLATFORM RELATIVE FOCUS

A subtle distinction can be made between ‘core’, ‘supporting’ and ‘proactive engagement’ platform positions, each requiring varying degrees of resource and commitment.

Core Platforms
These are the platforms where the bulk of the content being published through them is native, i.e. content which has not been syndicated or cross-posted from another social media platform. It is your very best content, and is closely aligned with the preferences of your target audiences who gather around it.

Supporting Platforms
These platforms play a supporting role by amplifying the content being published through the core platforms via syndication (cross-posting and cross-linking). Syndication is the process of manually or automatically pulling content from one social media channel and pushing it into another, e.g. cross-posting a YouTube video which is playable within Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn without the need to click back to YouTube. Cross-linking is posting a summary – usually a title, short description and an image – of a piece of content sitting elsewhere which the user is invited to click across to, e.g. a link from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to a blog post. Systematic syndication can extend the reach of your branded content to different audiences, and increase your follower and subscriber numbers.

Proactive Engagement (Community Building)
The chosen platform/s through which you organisation will proactively engage your target audiences – this is the ‘social’ in social media. Pushing content to followers, fans and subscribers is increasingly complemented with dialogue and self-generating conversation treads. It can be a large input of time and commitment to establish and maintain a community, but the rewards are many. The rules, guidelines and KPI’s of community engagement should be codified in the form of an organisational social media policy.

 

7. BRIDGES
walk

Social media platforms are places for people to discover, consume and engage with your branded content, talk to you and to each other. At times however you will need to mobilise your followers or fans to perform an action of value for the organisation, e.g. contact us, buy something, complete a survey, visit a location, attend an event, sign up to your newsletter, apply for a position, make a donation, volunteer. Depending on your strategic objectives your goal conversions might necessarily take place away from your social media platforms. If this is the case you will need to build visible bridges from your social media ‘islands’ (or install clear calls-to-action within your posts) which lead people across to one of your conversion-place ‘mainlands’. Mainland bridging examples include:

  • Visit our website (hyperlink or display URL)
  • Visit one of our physical locations, e.g. our store, office, showroom, venue, tourist attraction
  • Email us or submit a contact form
  • Telephone us or live chat
  • Redeem a code (online)
  • Claim an offer (offline)

 

8. CONVERSION-POINT PLACES
icons places

Bridges carry people across to conversion point places – environments where the pointy-end of organisational level social media takes place. There are four main conversion-point places: your website, including microsites and campaign pages; physical locations; your contact centre; or another social media platform. Each conversion-point place provides differing conversion opportunities (and measures), as well attribution insights.

Conversion place metrics should be the key indicators of social media success, not the activity  or ‘vanity’ metrics contained within each social media platform.

A. Your Website
Get them to your principal online asset and which offers greater control over the user experience. There’s no distracting third-party advertising, you can self-style your CTA’s and conversion paths, and have direct access to your own website analytics, including referral traffic by channel (inc. social media) and conversion goal tracking. Easily measured goals including reverse source analysis of ecommerce sales, downloads, page views, enquiries via contact forms, applications, donations and email subscriptions. The website can also serve as an intermediate bridge to the 3 other conversion-point places listed below.

B. Physical Locations
Get them to travel somewhere. Compared to a website visitor a physical location visitor is more difficult to identify as having directly or indirectly originated from a prior social media touch-point (commonly referred to as the ‘attribution problem’). Goals within this context may include onsite visits and onsite sales – in both instances redemption codes are one possible means of identifying a specific social media activity or platform as the major contributing factor.

C. Contact Centre (Telephone & Email)
Communicate with them directly and  fast-track the relationship building process. Goal conversions may include telephone and email enquiries or sales, but may not be attributable to any social media activity unless campaign specific redemption codes are used. In some instances a contact centre member may openly ask how a caller or sender found out about the organisation or offer.

D. End Destination Social Media Platform
Get them to the principal social media gathering place. For example, an organisation that positions and resources Twitter or Facebook as a customer service channel, or uses a LinkedIn company page for recruitment purposes. Conversion-point place metrics in this instance could include engagement triggers such as the number of questions, comments, compliments or complaints received, post engagement activity, individual or aggregate post reach, competition entries, surveys and polls completed or direct sales, e.g. Facebook commerce.

 
9. ALLOCATION AND REALLOCATION OF RESOURCES

Once your social media strategy is launched you’ll be in a better position to adjust allocations of staff time and money (typically more than you think) against your resource capabilities (typically less than you’d like). Or alternatively adjust your goal conversion targets up or downwards.



Social, a New Fragrance by NET:101

Bottle2

After launching the wildly popular fragrance Digital in 2008, the house of NET:101 has unveiled Social. The nose behind this composition, Tim Martin was following the idea of creating a classic business fragrance, “One that would last for years and be the type of scent that organisational stakeholders would adore.”

The notes of Social are composed in accordance with Martin’s personal tastes, who also wanted to create a structured yet approachable composition. In line with that Martin said, “I like strategic-analytical notes and we’ve never done this type of fragrance before, it’s more bottom-line focused than any of our other business scents. But I also wanted to invoke a sense of journey through exotic lands and new ideas.”

Social opens with sparkling notes of warmth and humour. The middle notes introduce a kaleidoscope of content – rich imagery, cascading text, streaming sight and sound. It’s a rush. The base notes create a sense of intellectual order: objectives, reports, goals – there’s no denying an underlying seriousness here. It’s a remarkable balance of weight and counterweight, heavy sillage, and will find broad appeal with execs from both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors. Its longevity is one of the most impressive on the market, lasting several business cycles and often longer.

When I first experienced Social I felt as though I had stepped into an environment where everything just seem to work. It inspires feelings of confidence, focus and experimentalism. While it’s squarely targeted at the corporate environment it exudes enough playfulness to be worn outside of office hours. I find myself being drawn back to Social time and again – without doubt it’s another classic in the make. The packaging also, as you would expect, is gorgeous.

Available in Australia only. RRP $795