22 12 / 2011
How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 4: What about using canned tweets?
This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. If you have questions, or if you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth.
Question: What about using canned tweets?
That’s one of the most frequently asked questions. Many managers are worried their team won’t engage in social media and try to resolve the issue by creating lists with predefined messages. All their team members need to do then is pick a canned tweet from the list, and copy and paste it to their profile.
People want to talk with other people, not with answering machines.
Let’s pick an everyday situation. How about going to a party with a list of canned conversation starters? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? It’s part of our human nature that we’re scared of the unknown. “What if I don’t know a single person?” “Will people stare at me?” “ “Or worse, ignore me?” People face exactly the same fears when engaging in social media, especially when doing so on behalf of their employers. “What if I do something wrong and get fired?”
Yes, Twitter is confusing. Yes, at the beginning you won’t understand those weird conversations packed with strange abbreviations. Yes, you might do something wrong. And yes, you might change your social media strategy over time. But while most people stick with the crowd and only move along with them, others are tempted to try out the new. “What if I change the game?”
Embrace the brave ones.
They’re less than 1% of your team, but they make all the difference.
The video link below shows how, in only a few minutes, you can start a movement. I love it, and it reflects how I think about social media engagement.
A movement always starts with a small bunch of brave, curious people who want to be part of something new, fresh and cool. In my experience, on average only 1% of all people in a corporation can be considered the brave ones willing to take the first step. And they’ll keep moving forward even when the going gets tough.
But what if you have a team of only 10? The answer is pretty simple: You’ll have to do everything by yourself and likely won’t get any support at the beginning. If a lonely nut chooses to join you, welcome him as an equal and provide everything he needs to keep engaging. It’s all about empowering your team — even if the team is just you and another nut.
Should you force your team to engage?
No, you shouldn’t. I grew up in a communist country where people were forced to engage, for example, in military parades: Swinging huge, red flags while singing dull songs praising the achievements of communism, such as fulfillment of the five-year plans (which, in reality, were never fulfilled), or glorifying leaders (who, bluntly speaking, were dumb, hated bozos).
Forcing people to do things against their will gives your company an air of North Korea or Belarus. People likely will boycott your initiatives and sooner or later, quit their jobs. Forcing people to do things against their will is a bad idea.
I personally can’t understand how people refrain from engaging in new and cool things like social media, but I had to swallow that pill. (And I encourage you to do so, too — the sooner, the better.) But here’s the good news: When you respect people’s decision not to engage in social media, they will respect you in return. They won’t boycott your activities and likely won’t talk behind your back. You’ll have the freedom to do what you think works best for your company in social media.
Don’t pressure those who lack courage; they’ll follow once the crowd starts moving in your direction. Instead, embrace the brave ones and start real conversations about your company on the social web — rather than using canned tweets.Tweet
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12 12 / 2011
How to Get Started in Social Media, Part 2: How do I get attention?
This blog post series is a collection of answers to questions I’ve been asked by managers assigned to launch and run social media activities in their corporations. If you have questions or if you’d like to chat, shoot me a note on Twitter @RafaelKnuth.
Question: How do I get attention?
Answer: Be relevant.
Social media is a completely different game than… hmm… than what? Good question. What compares to social media? Many people I talk with see social media as another distribution channel for their corporate announcements, in addition to existing types of media. But social media is neither. It’s not a distribution channel, and corporate announcements aren’t the type of content your community is waiting for — unless it’s a really huge announcement, such as a merger, new CEO or different product line. But that doesn’t happen often.
Social media is not about distributing corporate announcements.
OK, let’s look at how real people use social media. Take Facebook, for example. Let’s imagine Jim and Susie. Just two regular folks heading towards a major event: They’re going to marry (the equivalent of a merger in the corporate world). They want everyone to know, so they come up with a big announcement on Facebook, followed by photos and comments from the wedding ceremony. They might even create a fan page. Cool. I guess they’ll get lots of “Likes” and cheerful comments from friends and relatives.
But what about the remaining 364 days of the year? Will Jim and Susie announce what they’re having for dinner every evening? Or which TV program they’re watching? Why not? Because Facebook is just another distribution channel for what they think the world should know about them.
What is it people dislike about social media? Very often they say, “I don’t want to waste my time reading all that crap!” So why should it be any different with corporate communications on social media? When a company blogs, Tweets and shares each of the bells and whistles it adds to its products, it’s behaving the same way as Jim and Susie announcing every detail of their daily life — including frozen pizza for dinner.
Social Media. It’s all about relevance.
In traditional media, you can spend $10,000–$50,000 dollars or more on a single-page ad in a magazine. Let’s assume you pick a magazine targeted at your potential customer base. Most likely, 99% of all readers will ignore your ad and the remaining 1% will take notice. Of those few, 1% will call the hotline printed at the bottom of the ad. Only 0.01% of the audience is interested in your product — versus 99.99% who aren’t. Doesn’t that sound like fishing with dynamite?
Don’t do this in social media. You might get three “Retweets” on Twitter and five “Likes” on Facebook, plus 128 hits on YouTube on your usual corporate announcements — but that’s it. Now, let’s get back to the original question, “How do I get attention?” After reading this far, you might have an idea of what doesn’t get attention. Let’s face it: 99.99% of all people, even if they’re well targeted, don’t care about your everyday corporate announcements. They don’t even notice.
Let’s build relevance from scratch:
What do your customers search for on Google?
Let me give you some homework over the next couple of days. It will help direct your focus to what really counts on the Internet, thus in social media. Answer these questions: “What are my customers searching for on Google and which searches are relevant to my business?” Be very specific: “What keywords do they type in?” “On what occasions do customers search for something our company may be able to help with?”
One thing is certain: No potential customer will type in, “Award-winning, innovative, leading XYZ product.” People don’t search for corporate announcements.
Take your time. These questions are fun to play with and might become the turning point in your social media activities. Your corporate blog, your Twitter account and Facebook fan page will become relevant when you refer exactly to what your customers are searching for. Let me help you get started.
When a customer wants to get a product up and running, for example, he types in, “Installation of product XYZ explained.” He might search for your product (if he purchased it), but also might browse for a competitor’s product (in case he spent money on that). In the first case, it’s straightforward: If your blog is titled, “Installation of product XYZ explained,” it will show up among the top search results. Now, let’s assume the customer didn’t buy your product: How does he find your blog? You might explain how easy it is to deploy your product compared to your competitor’s offering. If “plug and play” is your competitive advantage, the reader might memorize it and come back to you when he needs to renew his inventory.
Did I promise too much?
Social media is a completely different game!
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