Six ideas to build social media momentum

My bike ride started me thinking about the importance of building social media momentum.

Here’s what I mean. My wife and I recently completed a lengthy mountain biking adventure.  At the end of the trail, there was a quaint yellow cottage offering sandwiches, ice cream and drinks. The yard in front of the establishment was brimming with bikes, so we figured it must be a popular place. It was so popular in fact that the wait was too long for a greasy hamburger and we rode away without ordering anything!

Hidden farther down the trail was another bistro. We almost passed by because there were not many bikes there. But we were hungry and decided to try it anyway. We were so glad we did!  We had a delicious gourmet sandwich served by a really funny waitress.

The moral of this story is that we were attracted to the first restaurant because it was validated by all the patrons it had. We nearly passed over second place — even though it had better “content” — because it seemed lonely.

I think this is an appropriate analogy for our presence on the social web, too, and I’m sure you already knew where I was going with this!  For example, blogs associated with lots of tweets and comments may get to a point where they’re popular just because they’re popular while worthy blogs may never get noticed unless they receive validation in the way of traffic.

So the question today is, if you have great content, how do you develop validation — social momentum — for it?

I would love to hear your ideas on this but let me start the conversation with six ideas of my own.

1) Seek folks who are naturally interested in your topic. I have a friend who just started a blog on manufacturing and industrial maintenance.  I suggested that he find related blogs on Technorati and interesting people to follow Twellow.  What?? You haven’t used Twellow? You can find Twitter users by hundreds of industry groupings here so it’s indispensable for finding fascinating people in your field!

2) Go off-road. Don’t just stick to the main roads. Potential readers of your blog can be found in many places …

  • Yahoo forums related to your professional topic
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Industry online trade magazines
  • Twitter lists
  • Blogs authored by competitors and customers.

3)  Connect. After a period of time, my friend should be able to identify some of the thought leaders in his field. Follow them, comment on their blogs, and establish your own voice to attract those already passionate about your topics. Want to see a best practice? Adam Vincenzini of our {grow} community recently involved many of his blogging thought leaders — and their readers — in one of his posts.  Awesome job.

4) Grow your potential audience. Many of the social media “purists” will tell you numbers don’t matter.  That’s hooey.  This is nothing but mis-placed false humility and they know it.  Building business connections on the social web is a numbers game. Maybe 5% of your “friends and followers” will read your blog. Of those who read, a rule of thumb is that 2% will   comment.  So if your goal is to attract more readers and more commenters, it makes sense to have the biggest base possible, right?  Now I’m NOT talking about buying lists or doing crazy things JUST for numbers. No, no, no. There is no short-cut. You need to build your audience the old-fashioned way by paying attention to people, providing great content, and being authentically helpful.  But keep building. Isn’t that what momentum, is about?

5) Ask for help. At a point when you’ve built up a relationship with these thought leaders and passionate followers, ask them for advice on your blog … perhaps even ask them for help in promoting it through tweets. If you’re providing great content, why wouldn’t they help?

6) Park a few bikes outside. As you’re slowly but steadily strengthening these meaningful, relevant connections, don’t be shy about asking your friends, co-workers and family members to tweet and comment on your blog. Park a few bikes outside, if you know what I mean. And promote your blog with customers, suppliers and business partners. Everywhere you have an email address, feature your blog address too.

What are your ideas on this subject?  How do you build social media momentum when you’re starting from zero?

The bar for viral marketing keeps getting higher

Wanted to pass along another example of excellence in viral marketing.

This thrilling 3-minute epic is a Nike tribute to the excitement, glamor and high stakes of the upcoming World Cup competition.  It features celebrity cameos including Kobe Bryant and Homer Simpson (who has the only speaking role in the video!).

It has also received 10 million page views. In ONE week.  Wow.  The bar for quality and entertainment value just keeps getting higher and higher, doesn’t it?

And by the way, you probably recognize that raucous theme anthem but can you name the song and performer?  OK 70′s music fans, time to get your game on!

When parody becomes a corporate PR disaster

When does online parody cross a line?

By now you’ve probably become aware of the “fake” BP global public relations account on Twitter spewing humorous observations such as:

“We feel terrible about spilling oil in American waters, we’ll make sure the next spill happens where the terrorists live. #bpcares”

“Just wrapped up a meeting with the EPA. Terry kept farting out loud at all the right moments. Not sure how he does it, but it’s SO FUNNY!”

“Oh man, this whole time we’ve been trying to stop SEAWATER from gushing into our OIL. Stupid Terry was holding the diagram upside down.”

According to Ad Age, the account started last Wednesday afternoon with this tweet: “We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to Come.”

Fewer than 50 tweets later, the feed had nearly 13,000 followers — compared to the 5,000 or so at the “real” @BP_America — and as of today, the account had about 40,000 followers.  Its humorous blasts have been re-tweeted by everyone from filmmaker Michael Moore to singer Michelle Branch.

Toby Odone, a spokesman at BP, told Ad Age: “I’m not aware of whether BP has made any calls to have it taken down or addressed. People are entitled to their views on what we’re doing and we have to live with those. We are doing the best we can to deal with the current situation and to try to stop the oil from flowing and to then clean it up.”

While there have been plenty of fake Twitter accounts before, perhaps none has spread so rapidly or gained this kind of momentum. The timing is right, the content is superb, and people are eager to connect emotionally to anyone poking fun at the easy target.

Let’s take a look at some of the realities and implications of this development for our own businesses.

1) Is it legal?

According to Twitter’s guidelines, it is perfectly acceptable to set up accounts that parody real companies, celebrities, etc. as long as it is clear that it is a parody. Their rule states:

The bio should include a statement to distinguish it from the real identity, such as “This is a parody,” “This is a fan page,” “Parody Account,” “Fan Account” or “This is not affiliated with…”

The account should not, through private or public communication with other users, try to deceive or mislead others about your identity. For example, if operating a fan account, do not direct message other users implying you are the actual subject (i.e., person, band, sports team, etc.) of the fan account.

As of today, the fake account bio reads: “This page exists to get BP’s message and mission statement out into the twitterverse!”

So no, it is not an account that meets Twitter’s standards. Further, it is causing a lot of confusion because many people are actually taking this as a serious BP account.

2) What should BP do?

BP has much bigger PR problems than a rogue Twitter account.  And making an issue of it and spoiling the fun would probably just heighten negativity against the company.

However, if I were working for BP right now <shudder> I would at least approach Twitter and ask it to enforce its own rules and declare clearly that this is a parody site.  Given the number of people who actually think this is a real account, there is a high probability that quotes from this parody site could start showing up as legitimate quotes from the company and stress the PR department further.

Really, BP’s only real option is to withstand the public fury and and eliminate the core problem — the root cause — at the source deep in the ocean and spreading across our shores. And that is going to take years.

3) What should YOU do?

The social web has imparted a whole new sense of meaning and urgency to PR planning, monitoring and response.  How have the rules changed? Or have they? What are your thoughts?

The key to social media mastery?

I’ve been teaching classes on social media marketing to business professionals for about a year now and I’ve found that there is definitely a group that “gets it” and a group that doesn’t.

The successful ones keep in touch with me long after the class is over and tell me how the social web has dramatically changed their lives through exciting new connections and business opportunities.  For others, I can usually tell by the end of the first class that it isn’t going to “take” no matter what I say or do.

I’ve thought a lot about what separates these two groups because I care about my students and I want them ALL to succeed.   Both groups start out motivated enough to plunk down their money and attend a class.  Everybody is attentive. They take notes and engage. They’re all successful business people receiving the same content with an equal opportunity to learn the strategies and channel tactics. So what’s the difference?

I’ve decided that it boils down to one important difference: MINDSET.

Meet Social Sue. She’s urgently trying to get on Facebook and Twitter because she’s heard all about social media and she’s afraid of falling behind.  Her marketing budget has been cut and she needs to find a way to sell more with less — fast!  She’s already overworked and sees the social web as just another source of pressure.  That makes her a bit skeptical — and even afraid — of opening up this Pandora’s box. Her customers have been complaining about her business on various sites and she wants to find a way to contain the damage and even eliminate the negative comments if possible. She thinks life will be so much easier if she can just find somebody to set up a Facebook fan page for her … like me : )

Sitting next to her is Social Sam. Sam is open-minded and excited about exploring the possibilities of an entirely new communication channel.  He realizes that he needs to focus on the bottom line, but he’s eager to immerse himself in this new platform and learn more about his customers and marketplace. He wants to meaningfully connect his business to customer wants and needs.   Sam knows it will take time to learn, listen, experiment and master the channel, but recognizes this is a wise and necessary investment if he is to be relevant in his marketplace — traditional advertising measures seem to be less and less effective. He’s heard a lot about Facebook of course, but is open to matching the appropriate marketing ideas with his business strategy.

There is a subtle difference between these two folks.  Both of them have an urgency to learn and an obvious business case for integrating the social web with traditional channels. But the difference in mindset seems to make all the difference in the world. At least that’s my experience but I’d like to hear from you of course.

A challenge for me — finding a way to work on this mindset with students upfront in the class.  Is that possible?  Some people seem to have a pretty strong bias toward “Sue” from the start. Maybe I’ll even use this post as a teaching tool!

What about you?   How would you convert a Sue to a Sam?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...