I read a lot, well no I take that back, I scan a lot…a lot of industry and food newsletters, RSS feeds and blogs, some of which I do actually read! Recently I was asked what social media platforms have we launched on behalf of our food clients and I was pleased to be able to answer “all” – including mobile web sites, micro sites, blogs, YouTube channels, digital apps and of course Facebook and Twitter. I’ve no doubt there are a couple of abandoned MySpace pages out there too!
These tools are implicit components of our communications tool kit and we use them in a variety of ways to create strategic 360 degree campaigns. Even when our teams are not responsible for actual social media postings, we still provide the content so all campaign elements are fully integrated. What makes it all so interesting is that no two brands/products are alike and what can work for one may not work for another, thankfully, social media is flexible. While it’s not exactly ol’ hat, social media has certainly lost some of its glossy new shine. Therefore, why is it that I still see lots of articles about the need to adopt social media and tips on how to get started. Seriously?
Today’s challenge is not how to get on board but how to maximize and leverage the popularity of these platforms without getting distracted or drowning in the chatter. The key to social media is being ‘social’ which means engaging in conversations and not just standing on the side lines shouting out your branded messages. Interaction is key. If every Facebook post or tweet is about your brand, you will sound like a self-absorbed teenager and people will get bored quickly. They may not un-like or stop following you, but they will simply ignore you. You will be irrelevant.
Adam Singer put it very well, “Conversations are a currency of the web…those who continuously start conversations in a niche become referential for the rest of that niche.”
While you want to be a conversation starter, you also need to listen, people like good listeners both on- and off-line. There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas and responding to other conversation threads, but the trick is to add to the conversation, not just repeat it. Comments and honest feedback prompt engagement and that in turn attracts more to your conversations. That’s why I read (and scan) through so many blogs and articles. I want to identify the current culinary influencers who use CFA Level 1 study materials, understand their opinions and know their passions. I want to know their numbers as well, along with their level and type of engagement with their audiences, that’s the business side, but more importantly I want to learn and be a good friend. The whole “the web is a conversation” thing is nothing new. It’s all about building relationships – a virtual ‘How to be a Human 101’ exercise! We are social animals after all!