Okay, so we are only three months into 2013, but with several major events crammed into the first quarter of the year—the Super Bowl, the Grammys, the Oscars—we have already seen a showcase of impressive social media marketing.
Rather than simply talking about that ingenious Facebook post or tweet, businesses that hope to increase their social presence should take note of what these instances can teach us. Here are my lessons to learn from social media’s first quarter of 2013:
#1: Timing is Everything.
Let’s start with this obvious (but important) takeaway by referring to what is perhaps the smartest tweet of the year.
During the blackout at this year’s Super Bowl, Oreo composed the “Dunk in the Dark” picture (in what I imagine to be a mad scramble at their office) and send out a tweet. If this had been done even a half hour later, the tweet would not have had the same impact. But, since it was posted when the blackout was still in progress and on everyone’s mind, the post got thousands of retweets.
Power out? No problem. twitter.com/Oreo/status/29…
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Oreo has replicated the success of this tweet with buzzy posts during the Grammys and the Oscars. Although not every tweet will have numbers like “Dunk in the Dark” picture, the smart marketing team behind Oreo monitors whatever is going on right now and takes the opportunity to get their brand in on the conversation.
For a lot of businesses, a constant social media presence isn’t feasible (do you really want to pay someone to take care of Twitter and Facebook on the weekends?), but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply some real-time marketing. You can live-tweet a local event the company is attending or create a hashtag for company parties so all of your employees’ comments, pictures, and videos are in the same place.
Plus, you should be commenting on current events and news updates that are relevant to your field. Your company doesn’t need to be quite as fast-acting as Oreo, but if you are one of the first to break the news or add interesting insight, you are more likely to see retweets.
#2: Listen and be Involved.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. You not only need to have an awareness of what’s going on in the world around you, but what is going on specifically within your social network. Communicate with the people who are mentioning you.
In one of the more humorous (if not slightly awkward) moments of this year’s Grammys, Kelly Clarkson said to her fellow nominee during her acceptance speech, “Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we have to sing together. That was the sexiest damned thing I’ve ever seen.”
Miguel wisely tweeted a response to this, bringing attention to himself for others who may have no idea who he is:
@kelly_clarkson say when! You killed tonight, MUCH LOVE
— Miguel (@MiguelUnlimited) February 11, 2013
If someone mentions you—in either a positive or negative light—don’t miss the opportunity to either amend the situation or thank them for their comments. More and more people are looking to social media for customer service, so for customer satisfaction at the very least, social media should be part of your local internet marketing strategy.
You can even go one step farther in interacting with fans. Recently, @Laura_ellenxx had tweeted the following: “Can tell I like chocolate abit too much when I’m following @KITKAT and @Oreo hahahahahah”
— LauraEllen (@Laura_ellenxx) March 11, 2013
It would have been easy enough to let that comment drop. But the folks at Kit Kat picked it up and ran with it, creating a tic tac toe game against Oreo for @Laura_ellenxx’s affections. Social media marketing requires creativity, but you have a lot of material (in the form of other’s posts and comments) to work with.
#3: Direct People to Social Media—and Have Something Good to Offer Them.
You may have noticed that there are hashtags and Twitter handles all over TV recently. During an episode of New Girl, you will see a faint #newgirl in the corner. The Twitter accounts for celebrities, athletes, and newscasters often appear below their names.
The lesson here is that, if you direct people to social media, they will come. The Grammys did a particularly good job at this. Host LL Cool J not only mentioned the sponsored hashtag—#grammys—but he also gave incentive for following the official account. @TheGRAMMYs delivered on the promise of backstage footage, celebrity retweets, and constant updates.
Point your customers and those visiting your site to every social media outlet you use. Put to Facebook, Twitter, etc. on your home page. Embed YouTube videos and Instagram photos on your blog. Invite visitors to ask questions via Twitter. Once you mention that you are involved with social media, you need to ensure that you are providing the type of content that your fans and followers actually want.
#4: Be Everywhere.
There are so many social networks that it’s hard to know where to begin. But a good rule to practice is try everything . . . and then focus on what works.
Vine — Twitter’s short video sharing service — came out days before the Super Bowl, but that didn’t stop a lot of companies from trying out the service, most notably Calvin Klein with some . . . let’s just say, distracting posts throughout the game. Even the official Super Bowl account, @superbowl, used Vine to send out clips of Colin Kaepernick and other players in preparation for the game.
Even if Vine doesn’t remain popular, at the moment, it’s new and buzzy. So give it a try.
According to Mashable, 66.5 Facebook interactions happened during the Oscars this year. In addition, there was a lot more buzz surrounding the nominees: the amount of likes on Facebook pages of nominated films and actors went up quite a bit from previous years. As someone who follows the Oscars closely, I know that the awards had a social media campaign through many websites, including the lesser-known GetGlue. But it’s obvious that a great majority of the people watching are on Facebook. For next year, it would be smart for the social media team behind the Academy Awards to focus more on Facebook and perhaps a little less in other areas.
Similarly, your business should cater to its audience. If clients and customers are on Facebook, get on Facebook. If they are on Twitter, get on Twitter.
#5: Work in Your Brand (Tastefully).
You may be wondering how all this effort finally pays off. That very question brings me to my final tip: you have to promote your products or services without being obnoxious about it. Nearly every tweet from Oreo involves those scrumptious black and white cookies. It’s pretty blatant advertising, but since the company refers to events outside of their company and tries to get fans involved, the posts are clever, not irritating.
A good example of working in your brand is from Smart USA. For the Oscars, the company used Vine to post short videos of the nominated films recreated with toy Smart Cars. They used their brand further in the messages that accompanied the videos: “Just like a smart, this odd love story quickly found a (parking) space in our hearts.”
My only criticism is that the posts used very similar messages with the videos, which could come across as spammy. Other than that, the videos are relevant (not only to a popular event but to their company), funny, and shareable.
Find interesting ways to incorporate your brand. Say you manage a boutique, and there was just a massive blizzard in your town. You could take a picture of the snow, with the caption “Looks like it’s time to stock up on boots.” Posts pleading for followers to “Check out our website!” get old fast, but commentary on current events with a subtle nod to your company can go a long way.
As the world—and everything in it—changes, your marketing strategy has to change with it in order to keep your business afloat. Using all of the available social media platforms seems daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Pay attention to the conversations around you, and take a lesson from those who get social media marketing right.