Monday, May 26, 2014

Be the troll that social media deserves, but not the one it needs. AWESOME!

internationally recognized troll face

Alright, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way up front. 

There is no sure-fire way to build content that will “go viral” (I hate the term so much it is going to be in quotes henceforth on this blog.) However there are “best practices” (ugh) that definitely helps our content get more attention.

What’s one of the best ways to get attention for social posts?

Everyone say it with me now … TRY BEING A TROLL!

Not so fast, you might say. How is being a troll going to help anything? 

Trolls are jerks, they make fun of people, they play off of stereotypes, they’re mean, they have bad breath. Trolls do not belong on our pages. So how can we be trolls?

Simple. The basic meaning of being a troll is not necessarily to be mean to others online. It actually refers to a person who creates opposition between different groups.

We WANT people to be passionate on our social pages. We WANT them to talk and get into issues. And We often WANT them to think about things in way that will translate into action offline. But it either happens under your control or under someone else’s.

Instead of an outsider controlling the action, you be the one who leads the discussion.

In fact, if you’re not willing to at least somehow tacitly address the differences in the community that you are dealing with, you are probably going to see different players step in and try to own the space.  There are no vacuums in social media, only people constantly stepping in to steer the discussion.

Here’s a quick exercise. On your social media pages do you see any natural groups? Which ones are friends? How about enemies? Is there any way to lead them into a discussion? Don’t be scared to troll them!

Before you can begin skillfully trolling your communities into a frothy mess, ask yourself some questions:

     1.      Why are these users following your social presence?

     2.      What kind of content do they want?

     3.      Are there any natural groups that form from this group?

Take the discussion to products and you can do face-offs that people are also passionate about, such as tea vs coffee, foreign cars vs domestic cars, supremacy of competing sports teams, and so on. Ask pointed questions that leave the door open for disagreement. For example, for a car company you might say, “Some people in our community say the Ford Fusion looks best in black. What do you think?”

Basically, always look for ways to push your fans into competition mode. Do NOT shy away from controversy or friction within reasonable limits.

You are far more likely to get your pages to be respected if you facilitate open discussion between groups then if you leave discussions closed. 

Certainly on a corporate page you have to be careful not to bring up issues that can lead into legal situations that you have no way of addressing, but the principle of being a troll can still apply. Legal teams and corporate clients should be trying to understand how social media is different from TV and radio, and how differences needed to be exposed and embraced, not hidden away.

So get out there and rouse your rabble. Being a troll might be the best thing you can do for your social media community. Just make sure to keep an eye on interactions to ensure that they stay civil and in line with your social media goals.

Monday, May 12, 2014

10 commandments for moving social media mountains

Charlton Heston in the 1956 movie, The 10 Commandments.

Think you know how to conceive and create social media that gets attention? Creating two-way conversations is a given, but you're going nowhere if you don’t know these 10 social media commandments: 

1.      Thou shalt not neglect photos/graphics. On social channels be brief with your words. If you need to say a lot then use a space that is not on social media channels to say it. The only people who are willing to read more than 80-100 of what you say are your friends, not most customers.

2.      Thou shalt not unleash plagues of ideas. Ideally you should be making one point. If you must, make two points. More ideas confuse the reader.

3.      Thou shalt cast lines that reel in all who are curious. These headlines are designed to get people to click a link to go beyond the social page. Can it be annoying? Yes. Does it work? Undoubtedly.

4.      Thou shalt not be predictable. People get tired. Don’t make them tired more quickly. Curious copy interspersed with different kinds of writing for maximum impact goes the furthest.

5.      Thou shalt avoid disclaimers and disclosures. These are ugly and scorned by all of humanity. Find a way around presenting such copy on your social pages at all cost.

6.      Use photos whenever possible, except on Tumblr when you might choose to go with .gifs first. You don’t generally want to push people invest time in a movie.

7.      Thou shalt not cheat with thy neighbor’s information to create boring photos. Infographics are so 2012. The only place they still really work is on LinkedIn. Want me to prove it? Just see how often the biggest and best companies using social media (Oreo, Samsung, Red Bull, etc.) use infographics.   

8.      Thou shalt remember to execute as you wish, not as social companies want. For example, Facebook wants you to upload your videos directly through FB. Instead, you can use a bitly link pointing to a video on YouTube. You get people's attention using a flashy pic for lower investment buy-ins. There are other things you can do too. (Ask me in the comments below or in any of the LinkedIn groups this is published under. I’m happy to bounce ideas.)

9.      Thou shalt know your age. Trendy sites mainly aimed towards younger folks, like Reddit and Tumblr, see plentiful use of memes. This is where memes should remain for the most part. Occasional use of memes on other sites to remind users of our their youthful days is fine. Likewise, when on social channels for younger folks, trying to advertise or use approaches blatantly vetted by a legal team or PR group is going to explode in your face. Try advertising elsewhere and your paid posts will have a much easier time, although even many people are tired of sponsored posts (advertisements) that they see as SPAM.

10.   Thou shalt be a hep cat modern. Look for trending events and try to quickly create posts that play off of sentiment. You’ll be seen as more with the times, not creating posts that you feed into some sort of machine to be spit out at regular intervals.

BONUS COMMANDMENT! Look at what your competitors are doing with your target audience. Figure out why it works, not just how it works. Now use the why to find your own approach and do it better.