The 3 Habits of Highly Successful Social Media

Social media is all the rage. Business leaders know it’s important. Marketers feel compelled to use it. But how, really, do you make it meaningful in your marketing campaigns and strategies? Can you publish your website content to your Facebook page? Should you? If you are using social media and don’t feel like it’s successful then perhaps you aren’t using it correctly. Or perhaps you haven’t defined your success criteria well enough.

See? Social media may be all the rage but uncertainty abounds.

That’s exactly what this presentation covered—3 habits you can adopt to make your social media more successful now…and in the future. Below is the full presentation deck (posted in SlideShare) as well as a slide-by-slide explanation of the key talking points. If the video of the presentation becomes available, we will post that as well.

And the conference at which this was presented (TFM&A in London) even provided a video of me presenting:

Slide-by-slide explanation:

  • Slide 1. Yeah, title slide. Ho hum.
  • Slide 2. Before we can start talking about social media, we need to set the stage. To understand why social media is so important, you have to understand its role in your digital presence as well as how marketing is evolving from broadcasting to engaging.
  • Slide 3. A digital presence is the sum of all your online activities. It’s your business represented in the digital economy. Your website. Your Facebook page. Comments you make on a blog (or comments made about you). Your e-commerce store (and how well it performs). And as the digital economy continues to become more important for the success of a business in today’s world, it’s critical to keep a handle on it. Note: our show focused around the launch of our Digital Presence for Dummies book that explains why a digital presence is so important and how to get a handle on it. You can get a copy for free!
  • Slide 4. But your digital presence isn’t just about what you publish out to the world, it’s also about how you engage with your users through what you publish. Your digital presence isn’t just a “set it and forget it” part of your business. It’s bi-directional. Dynamic. And 24/7/365.
  • Slide 5. Your digital presence is also all the content out there about your business…that you don’t publish! Ack! It’s true. Review sites. Facebook posts. Tweets. Your audience and customers are out there talking about your brand and what you offer (well, you hope they are…and saying nice things). This is part of your digital presence too (even if you didn’t have a website or anything else, this content might still exist).
  • Slide 6. Good or bad, your digital presence affects your brand.
  • Slide 7. And it can affect your bottom line. When it sucks, sales may drop. Leads may not convert. Monetization can be impacted. Hint: pay attention to your digital presence.
  • Slide 8. Ultimately, your digital presence is your story. All of that content across all of those digital touchpoints help to tell a story to your audience, your customers, your partners, your prospects, the press, and even your employees. And storytelling is part of this evolution from broadcast-messaging to engagement-marketing. You can check out more about storytelling on my blog (no, that wasn’t in the presentation).
  • Slide 9. This whole “engagement” thing—that’s why social media is so important to your digital presence. Let’s face it. Social media is the best way to engage through your content. Well, maybe it’s not the best way but it’s the most popular…for your audience. Thank Mark Zuckerberg for that one (well and that guy who founded Twitter).
  • Slide 10. Okay, so this might seem pretty confusing (or at least a lot of new information to absorb) but it’s really not.
  • Slide 11. In fact, it’s actually pretty simple. There’s an equation you have to remember that will help you put your digital presence (and what you need to do with it) in perspective.
  • Slide 12. No explanation needed!
  • Slide 13. Ack! Repetitive slide! Alert! Alert! Danger Will Robinson…oh, wait, there’s a point here. To reinforce that social media is probably the best way for you to engage with your audience through your content.
  • Slide 14. But you can’t look at social media as just another “channel” for your message. Remember, marketing is evolving from broadcasting (that’s advertising that really focused on getting out a volume of messages to as many places as possible) to engaging (this is focusing on developing a relationship with the audience through a narrative story).
  • Slide 15. So how do you use social media effectively as part of your digital presence? There are 3 habits (well, actually there’s a fourth too but we will get to that shortly).
  • Slide 16. Habit #1: Keep it in Context
  • Slide 17. As marketers, especially those of us still married to the old broadcast-messaging strategies, we fall into the trap of consistency. Just keep sending the same message out to as many channels as possible. If the message is consistent, we will increase the chance of it “sinking in.”
  • Slide 18. But that’s not the case with today’s engagement-marketing. Let’s face it, there is too much noise out there. Too many marketers with too many messages with too many channels. And digital makes it too easy to increase the volume. Just point and click. But in order to use social media effectively, you need to keep the messages in context. They need to be relevant to the channel. And context is coming. It’s going to change everything.
  • Slide 19. But context in the digital world is, well, complicated. All these devices demand a different “context.”
  • Slide 20. That’s because you can’t focus on the device itself. You have to focus on the manner in which they are being used (hint, the context). A tablet being used on a couch is a different context that one being used in bed. Users have different behaviors and different expectations.
  • Slide 21. Uh, yeah. Using my smartphone while standing in line is, obviously, different from using it as part of my shopping experience. Context is critical to the impact potential of your message.
  • Slide 22. Um, this is one of the few slides with bullet points. I won’t ruin the experience of reading it. Continue when you are done…
  • Slide 23. This is an example from Microsoft’s Facebook page showing how you can keep the messaging in context. Rather than showing off pictures of their phone or Xbox consoles, they are instead focusing on activities around those products (activities that engage their audience on Facebook). Who wants to come and interact with Microsoft around a picture of a phone? Your message is not always directly about your product.
  • Slide 24. Habit #2: Use Data to Make Decisions (I know, I said the “D” word)
  • Slide 25. There are lots of tools to measure social effectiveness. I like Infinigraph. But there are tons of others out there. What do these tools do? Help you understand how effective your brand’s engagement is across social media channels within your industry. Now that’s data you can use.
  • Slide 26. There are also other tools to help you get a sense of when to publish social media, how your users are engaging with different content elements, and the overall success of your social media activity. I’ve provided examples from Social Bro and SproutSocial.
  • Slide 27. What’s the point I’m driving home? Pick a tool. There are a bunch.
  • Slide 28. But just as important as picking a tool is to set your success criteria. If you are going to use the data provided by these tools to help you make decisions about your social media activity then you should probably have some sense about what “success” means for you. Is it # of likes? Is it the level of engagement with an individual users? Is it how well key influencers are performing with your message? Don’t worry about whether or not you are defining “success” correctly. Define it for your needs.
  • Slide 29. Habit #3: Be Your Audience.
  • Slide 30. Here’s an example of a big brand doing it right on Facebook. Coca-Cola is not just blasting out messages. As you can see by the highlighted post, they are engaging with their users in a conversational manner…like they are just one of the audience.
  • Slide 31. But there are other big brands who are not doing it so well. Like British Airways. Most of their Facebook activity that I could find was about addressing customer service problems. If we are having a conversation about a cool destination, dumping a customer service issue in there is an interruption (maybe they could have direct-messaged the customer or have a separate Facebook page for customer service).
  • Slide 32. In short, you can’t engage if you are just observing. Stop being an anthropologist (yeah, love that word) and get involved!
  • Slide 33. Get plugged in by becoming an active member of the conversation. Post content that you would like to read and engage with.
  • Slide 34. Here’s another example of Coca-Cola…but doing it wrong on Twitter. Notice that they are just pushing out messages. There is no mention of other users. There are no retweets. No mentions. It’s like it’s a one-way conversation: Coca-Cola to the Twittersphere.
  • Slide 35. But McDonald’s is doing it right on Twitter. Notice all the RTs, the @s (those are mentions of other Twitter users). McDonald’s is actively promoting engagement and conversation.
  • Slide 36. Woot Woot! A Bonus habit! Oh yeah.
  • Slide 37. Habit #4: Engage Specifically.
  • Slide 38. Let’s face it, social media is about ego. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Klout. Pick your poison. Really popular people on social networks are all “me me me.” And that’s okay! When those people are connected to your brand, they can become your biggest advocates. So go find them. Use those social media tools we mentioned in Habit #2 and figure out who is talking about you the most.
  • Slide 39: And once you find them? Feed their ego. Involve them. Make them part of your marketing strategy and get them to speak to their followers about you (or at least relay your message; coming from them it may have more credibility).
  • Slide 40. Okay, one last thing about all of this…
  • Slide 41. Social cannot be just another channel. It has to be part of your business. It’s all about “being digital.”
  • Slide 42. And remember when you start to craft those stories. It’s not about you. It’s about your customer. It’s not about your product, it’s about connecting with that audience.
  • Slide 43. That’s why you have to get away from the “I,” “me,” and “we” writing style. Make it all about “you” and “your.” When you start making it more personal, you start creating that personal connection.
  • Slide 44. This presentation brought to you by the letters Q and A…(thanks Kyle Faber)

To wrap it up, I just want to make a note about the presentation itself. You’ll notice there are a ton of images in there (thanks iStockphoto.com). That’s because bullet-point presentations are painful to make, sit-through, and provide little to no interaction. When slides are mostly images, the presenter get to perform (and, yes, I love to perform). The images allow me to tell a story. Oh, storytelling! Obviously some other presenters (cough cough, Steve Jobs, cough cough) employed the same style. The next presentation that you give, try and take out some of the text. Put in some images. Tell a story.

- Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy. You can connect with Jason on Twitter @_jasonthibeault.

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