Social is as social does

Amidst all the chatter about new social networks and how brands should be interacting with audiences, a simple lesson has been missed, one courtesy of Forrest Gump.

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The fictional character’s famous quote, stupid is as stupid does, is one equally applicable to social media: social is as social does.

When marketing managers and directors are looking at numbers, charts, KPIs, and metrics about things like social media engagement, interactions per hour, new followers, etc. and wondering why social media isn’t delivering its fabled results, the answer can usually be found in that aphorism. Social is as social does.

Take a look at this simple chart of a national brand and how many questions on their Facebook Page they don’t answer, as well as the response time:

_Response_Rate___Socialbakers_Engagement_Analytics

Social is as social does. If you’re taking half a day to answer fans’ questions, and answering 1 out of every 6 questions, then don’t be surprised when your social media engagement metrics are in the toilet, when your audience stops talking to you, when people give up because you don’t interact with them.

Being social means doing the basics of human civility, the sort of thing that you tell a four year old.

Say hello and goodbye to people.
Answer questions when you’re asked.
Talk about the other person more than you talk about yourself.
Don’t interrupt other people talking.
You have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.
Be polite.

When marketers say that social is all about “being human”, that’s what we’re talking about: accomplishing the basics of being a functional human being. It’s not magic. It is effort.

The next time you’re looking at your social media marketing metrics and you’re not happy with the results, ask yourself if you’re being as social as your audience wants you to be.

Social is as social does.


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Social media analytics and accountability at SMB36

I had the opportunity recently to speak at Social Media Breakfast Boston 36 about social media analytics, accountability, and measurement, using apple pie as an analogy:

Special thanks to Bob Collins and Social Media Breakfast for having me!


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What Starcraft should tell you about your social media strategy

I’ve been playing the heck out of Starcraft II recently, having finally gotten around to buying it. It’s tremendous fun and is a true real-time strategy game, like Warcraft was before World of Warcraft. Starcraft teaches you a heck of a lot about tactical strategy because it’s fairly unforgiving of bad strategy. You know whether X idea is a good one or a bad one in short order.

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As you play the game, you have to build little buildings and troops, then place them on the map where you think they’ll do the most good. The catch is that you have a finite number of resources to work with and everything you build takes time. Thus, if you plan poorly, your opponent can kick your butt while all your resources are being used for unproductive things.

One of the strategies I play with to make sure I’m not open to an easy, preventable loss is the idea of outposts and headquarters. Rather than try to spread my forces out all over the map, I fortify one area near my main buildings, then send out scouts and builders to construct modest outposts around areas of interest. If I find an especially valuable place to be, I’ll add more troops and buildings so that it’s not easily overrun. The outposts serve as early warning systems – they’re well-defended enough that they put up at least a little resistance, enough warning for me to recall all of my troops if something bad is coming my way. Meanwhile, my headquarters is armed to the teeth so that I can continue to build my army.

This strategy plays out surprisingly well in social media and on social networks. Unless you’ve got massive headcount and resources, you can’t be everywhere all the time. You can and should set up outposts on every network that you practically and reasonably can, and make at least a token effort to customize them and tell people where to find you. Better to set up an outpost and tell people where to go than to spread yourself too thin and do nothing really well. Like the Starcraft 101 strategy, you also want to pick one or two places, maybe three, where you’re going to do the big building, where you’re going to “mine for resources” and construct the heavy guns.

Also like Starcraft, where you choose to set up shop can and should change. In the game, you can exhaust your resource nodes and be forced to find new ones. This is equally true in social media. A social network can stop delivering for you – anyone who invested heavily in MySpace can tell you that. Anyone who spend a fortune on Facebook Likes can tell you that. Be ready and willing to pick up and move to a place where you do get the results you want.

Take these basic lessons from Starcraft and see how they apply to your social media strategy!


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