Thoughts on Social Media . . .

It’s like the Wild West out there right now with the social media revolution.  It’s such a new medium that advertisers are scurrying to find ways to make money off of them . . . but for right now, it’s a media free-for-all . . . the newest but most certainly not the last advertising frontier.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the best ways to move forward with a social media campaign, from the agency perspective. (I bet you can’t guess exactly what all of these respective social media outlets specialize in)

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1. Entertain AND Educate. What is important is to have the right blend of insightful, comedic, interesting, and fun commentary, along with relevant information about your product or service. No one wants to read a bland press release that just talks directly about facts and figures, when they could learn the same thing somewhere else that also has entertainment value.

On the other hand, you can’t simply be entertaining and funny unless that’s all you are promoting. Your content must be relevant to your client/agency/product/service/etc. Believe me, there are a lot of entertainment/comedy sites that are funnier than you . . . so tell your audience something they don’t know about, and if you can, make them chuckle while they learn.

2. Posts, Posts, and More Posts. The key to creating a decent following, and thus, getting the most from your social media campaign, is to be relentless. People expect content. That’s it. They aren’t going to check your site daily if you’re not posting daily. They won’t check your site several times a day if you’re not making the effort to give them new content multiple times daily.

But also refer to #1 on the list: it must be relevant and interesting; otherwise you can post all the content you want, if it sucks, you’re just left with a lot of babble.

3. Site Outside Sources. You know that you’re not the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz. And so does everyone else. Don’t pretend to be by only writing about yourself, your thoughts, and your agency. Things are going on in this world that are much bigger, smarter, better looking, more interesting, cooler, and much, much more exciting than you . . . and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tell your audience about that cool stuff out there (videos, marketing strategies, websites) and what you’re doing to learn from it, catch up to it, emulate it, what have you.

4. Monotony: The Enemy. If there is one thing the internet/social media is not, it’s monotonous. The best part about the internet is that you can find anything new, at anytime, anywhere. So don’t make your audience go chase it down using Google or YouTube. Be one step ahead and be that one-stop source for your fans to get their current information that is pertinent to them.

If you continuously write about the same thing, you will become the after-thought for your audience and will be used as a quick reference from time-to-time when they are looking for the same ol’ thing. In the case of social media, don’t be the tortoise, be the hare. But don’t rest! Slow and steady does not win the race! Fast, cutting-edge, ahead of the curve, no rest, in-your-face, breaking news wins the race.

5. Any Resource, Any Writer. Some may disagree, but a good company blog should use several different writers/voices. This also depends on what kind of blog you are planning to write, but for this scenario, we are going to be blogging for an advertising agency, and an ad agency is nothing without flexibility.

Think about it, an ad agency is full of different departments that are made up of very different minds. There are right-brains and left-brains, intense go-getters and mellow creatives. I don’t think your audience is going to buy the idea that there is some sort of transcendent, harmonious agreement that occurs between these departments at the end of the day . . . as if everyone got together to enjoy a spirited sing-along of “Kum Ba Ya”.

Tell the stories of the graphic designer. Then tell people what the account executive learned from his business pitch today. Then find out what the CEO thinks about this economic crisis we’re in. Then ask the copywriter to reflect his thoughts about Leo Burnett’s newest strategy for the McDonald’s campaign. It’s all good, and it’s all different, and that will build your audience.

6. It’s A Brave New Medium, Attack! Learn from your mistakes. Everyone will make them. That’s what happens when people start trying new things. The only true mistake is to not learn from it.

Things are changing in the world of advertising. How do you gauge the charge for performing social media tasks. It’s possible to trackback how many hits websites get from your respective social media platforms, but can you really put a price tag on the overall branding message that you’re getting from this B2C communication. Not yet? Maybe? Someone out there probably has it right, I’m not sure which one it is yet. Audiences are changing everyday as they become more and more tech-savvy and every medium becomes more consumer-controlled. Social media will tell your audience about your product, in great detail, without the FCC watching, whenever you want to tell them about it, for completely free or very minimal costs. It’s almost risk-free . . . you know, as long as you don’t somehow offend or belittle your audience.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some sort of focused plan, with deadlines, forecasts, and goals . . . they are necessary for any marketing plan and are essential for tracking results and, for your agency, billing.

Those are the basics of social media. You get to have fun with it! It’s a chance to inform and entertain. Not getting any return yet? It’s OK; your campaign is most likely free to run. Be a people person, it’s called SOCIAL media. Make connections through Twitter. Let people Digg your articles. Try WordPress so you can blog for as long as you want to. Need new contacts? Find some local businesses through Facebook, Myspace or Yelp. Are you making a lot of cool videos that the world should see? YouTube or FlickR. And link them all together. Everyone out there is on this World Wide Web, and we’re just little spiders creating our own webs so we can catch what we need to survive: new business.