Social Media

To Boldly Post: George Takei and Social Media

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I once heard a marketing executive say, “I think of Twitter as something that 20-somethings do.”

Well, she clearly hasn’t been paying attention to George Takei. The 75-year-old actor and activist has become a social media heavyweight, with over 299,000 followers on Twitter and over 1.2 million likes on Facebook.

But it isn’t his numbers that are so incredible—there are plenty of brands, celebrities, and organizations that can boast more fans. What’s noteworthy about Takei is his level of engagement.

In her post “George Takei: Facebook Hero” on Commerce Kitchen, Natalie Winslow points out the share rates on Takei’s Facebook posts–in one case, more than 10,600 shares on a single photo, compared to 708 on a photo on Coca-Cola’s page. Obviously one post doesn’t make a case–but this is not an isolated incident. Takei’s recent photo posts have share rates ranging from some 3,000 shares to over 25,000.

Roni Weiss’s RW Social post “Whose brand is stronger: George Takei or Starbucks?” answers its own question–George Takei–by comparing “Who’s talking about this” numbers for each Facebook page. Can we expand on this? As I write this, I can find the following corresponding numbers for Facebook pages:

Starbucks: 339,272 (over 29,000,000 likes)
McDonald’s: 780,873 (over 17,000,000 likes)
Nike: 796,869 (over 8,000,000 likes)
George Takei: 584,907 (1,265,789 likes)

Want to compare him to other celebrities? Lady Gaga’s page has 650,076 people talking about it–and she’s got more than 49,000,000 likes–more than 40 times as many as Takei. Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who Mashable readers voted the “Must-Follow Actor or Actress on Social Media,” has 220,000 people talking about his page.

Forty-six percent of Takei’s fans are talking about him. The others don’t even come close.

So what’s the secret to his Facebook success? I see several:

Frequency
He’s very active, posting multiple times a day.

Authenticity
He posts about gay rights and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans–causes that matter deeply to him. The first thing I saw was this YouTube video he made in response to anti-gay remarks made by a school board member in Arkansas:

You can often find him posting on heartfelt topics like this on Facebook and Twitter–and also about his hatred of the “Twilight” franchise.

Humor
He’s not just about the causes. Takei has several posts a day that are flat-out funny.

User-Generated Content
Business Week quoted Takei as saying, “True to my base, I like to find fan-generated images that are in the world of science fiction, especially Star Trek or Star Wars—both are franchises that I have worked in.” Many of his posts originate with fans–and he indicates this. In fact, his current cover photo is the result of a fan caption contest.

Knowing His Audience
It’s the first rule of comedy, and it’s also true for communication. George Takei knows who his fans are, and he’s paid attention to what they like–which means he’s very good at delivering it.

And the results are clear. So, how can you go boldly?

Facebook Timeline and Your Brand

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Facebook Timeline will become the default for brands on March 30–between now and then, only you can see your page in the new format, so now’s the time to start working on it. You’ll want it to be ready for the public by then (and if you’re ready ahead of time, go ahead and make the switch by publishing your page).

Mashable has a post that identifies six things you should know going forward. I’d particularly like to point out #5, because it’s a reminder to look at all of the ways your brand uses Facebook, not just the Wall. Take a look at your current tabs and app, and figure out what you need to change to make them look current in the new format.

Patrick Powers writes about higher education, but his advice about Timeline is good regardless of your economic sector. Remember that you can now add events that took place before the dawn of Facebook–was your organization founded in 1919? Great–why not list that on your Timeline?

If there’s a post you particularly want to highlight, you can “pin” it to the top of the Timeline; this Techcrunch post shows what that will look like.

Are you ready to get started, but want some inspiration? Check out what how the U.S. military is using Timeline (see above for how the U.S. Army is using its cover photo)–or look at these 20 other examples provided by Mashable.

Guest Post by Adam Paul: Simple Is As Simple Does

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I’m delighted to introduce my first guest post, written by Adam Paul. Adam is the executive producer of The Steps, a web drama that has recently started its second season. (Disclosure: One of the creators, Dylan Kussman, is a close friend, and I am a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign that funded this season.)

In addition to creative work on the (very) small screen, The Steps has showcased innovative and integrated marketing through myriad social media channels, using a variety of tactics based on larger strategic goals, as Adam explains:

As an independent producer of web and television filmed content, I should be much more savvy about marketing via social media than I am. Working with lower budgets just to get the story told, never mind marketed to the public, you’d think I’d have a firm grip on the ins and outs of using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about my product.

But I don’t. It seems I’m always learning about some new way to cleverly reach out to an audience. A contest or survey or targeted ad or email campaign. But I’ve come to accept recently that that’s the nature of the beast. If new content is the fuel on which the internet runs, then social networking is the Internet’s true combustion engine. And there will always be a myriad of ways to fill the engine’s tank.

My current series, ‘The Steps’, is now in its second season. During the first season, we gave away a Dell netbook via a Twitter hashtag campaign and premiered the series at a ‘Device Party’ which encouraged participants to bring their own connected platform – be it smartphone or laptop or tablet – to our party event, join the wifi network there and simultaneously view the first episode together. We took out Facebook ads, rigorously administered our pages and found multiple distribution partners to screen our series to the widest possible audience.

The Steps

While our budget was raised entirely via Kickstarter.com’s brilliant site and a strong outreach to our production team’s networks, this year we’re utilizing far fewer event-based methods to actually promote the series. Aside from a weekly new episode release (Thursdays at www.WatchTheSteps.com), we’re letting the show gain traction through the simplest of marketing techniques: word of mouth.

Despite a compelling premise and world class production values, ‘The Steps’ is a unique animal in the world of web series –

  • It’s a drama (a noir thriller, to be exact)
  • It takes its time – far from boring, our series is a particular type of tale, with richly textured characters, strong imagery, and an overarching story that requires some investment from the viewer.
  • Like life, it’s complicated – the story’s hero, Charlie Madison, is a private eye with a habit of getting into trouble. He gets in his own way. He may have even killed his last girlfriend. He’s a human being who’s made mistakes, can’t forgive himself, but trudges on and tries to do the right thing.

That’s a lot to pitch to a new audience in a blurb or even a press release.

And so, our most recent revelation in the world of social media marketing has been this:

That’s right. A badge. We’ve asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to use it as their profile picture for a week. Then we’ll change it up with another image from the show each week as we roll episodes out.

Simple, no? But very effective. No one has to beg their friends to check it out. Those who like the show just change their profile picture. Yes, we seed our social network pages with behind the scenes stills and notes from the creator of the show during the week between episodes. We keep topping off the tank of that engine so it can run loud and strong. But this little badge has proven to be the best way to get our name in front of the maximum number of eyeballs. Our followers wear it with pride, their followers see the bold url, and hopefully, just hopefully, we’ve penetrated their subconscious with our three-word call to action.

Adam Paul is the founder of Giantleap Industries, a digital studio that develops multi-platform content to bridge the divide between television, the web and wherever else you’re watching. ‘The Steps’ is currently rolling out new episodes of its second season at www.WatchTheSteps.com, Youtube.com/TheStepsWebSeries, Koldcast.tv and Blip.tv

All images provided by Adam Paul.

Ask Better Questions to Accomplish Organizational Goals

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Tricks are easy. They’re also transient. Good work is hard, and requires serious thought and preparation to succeed. Take a look at these links to see some things you should be thinking about, and extrapolate.

Start of a Horse Race

Are you too focused on “likes”?
Social Business: Far Beyond The Like at Brass Tack Thinking.

Should you be on Pinterest? Well, what do you do?
The 10 Most-Followed Brands on Pinterest at Mashable.

Are you trying to sell when you should be listening?
Why Are Retailers Shutting Their Facebook Stores? at Mashable

So, what questions should you be asking? And are you asking them?

Photo by Rennett Stowe, via Flickr.

Get Pinned!

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Still interested in that Pinterest thing you’ve been hearing so much about? Here are some more places to find ideas about making it work for your brand.

“Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic”
If you’re wondering if there’s a point to all of this, check out Brian Solis’s post about Pinterest’s success in driving traffic and engagement.

“How Brands Can Get Involved on Pinterest”
Social Media Group has a few how-to tips that may come in handy, as well as methods worth exploring.

“Pinterest drives enormous blog and business success”
On {Grow}, Lauren Schaefer provides a case study of Pinterest success, including that careful balance of self-promotion, how-to, and outside ideas that fit the brand.

And a worthy repeat:
“Pinterest for Brands: 5 Hot Tips”
Mashable has some more suggestions: promote a lifestyle, use it like a focus group, crowdsource, run contests, and inspire your team. All of these have potential–but I’m repeating this one for #5, because all too often, that end of the equation is ignored.

Curators of Sweden: Making Twitter Personal

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sweden

Looking for an interesting social media experiment? Check out Curators of Sweden. Each week, a new citizen of Sweden takes over the Twitter account for the tourism group Visit Sweden. The campaign was created by Stockholm agency Volontaire, with the approval of the government.

So what can you expect to find? So far, according to the ever-changing Twitter bio, curators of Sweden have included a Bosnian immigrant, a sheep-herder, and a journalist. Each curator talks about the country, his or her daily life, and anything else that might interest people who want to know more about Sweden.

Sure, there are risks. Someone could make off with the password and run amok with the account. But what’s actually happening is the essence of social–real people talking about what it’s like to live and work in their country.

So, how could this work for your brand? And are you even willing to try?

Photo by hellojenuine. via Flickr.

That’s Pinterest-ing

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There’s been a lot of talk about Pinterest lately. The online, social equivalent of a corkboard, it’s a way to share images that fascinate, intrigue, or just plain appeal to you. While Pinterest asks that you not just upload and pin a ton of your own stuff, it does seem to me that artists and designers could use it as a source of inspiration.

You “pin” things onto “boards” with topics or themes of your choosing. I’m still building mine, but on a personal level, it’s a fun way to collect and share things with friends (and strangers, depending on your privacy settings).

So how can brands, companies, and organizations use Pinterest?

Some uses seem fairly self-evident; Real Simple uses Pinterest to share ideas from their magazine, as well as from other sources around the web. The look matches their style, particularly since they’ve been in the business of thematic content curation for quite some time, both online and in print.

Travel Channel uses Pinterest to share images from around the world, be they pristine beaches, international street food, or behind-the-scenes shots from some of their programs.

Bergdorf Goodman’s boards focus on seasonal trends, beauty products, and gift ideas, as well as shoes–some of which I find kind of scary, but definitely creative.

The secret seems to be in correctly identifying your philosophy. Pinterest may not be where you share your own content, but it can help you demonstrate where your brand fits in the larger world. Oberlin College’s Ma’ayan Plaut has a great post on the CASE blog that looks at how this can work for colleges and universities–but her thoughts are hardly limited to that sector. (Michael Fienen at DotEdGuru says to hold off, but really he seems to be saying, “Think about how to make it work, first,” which is certainly good advice regardless of tactic.)

So, what do you think–is there room for Pinterest in your strategy?

Infographic: Apple to Apples

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Apple to Apples
Created by: MBA Online

Social Media Roundup

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roundup

Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of talk about Pinterest for businesses. I’ve been having fun with it, and I definitely see how it could be of use for brands–depending on the brand. Maggie McGary has a post on SocialFish that can help you figure out if it’s right for yours.

How can you make LinkedIn work for your brand? Edelman Digital’s blog features a post by Rachel Levine that explains how some of the site’s new features may be of use to companies and organizations.

Facebook introduces direct messages between pages and fans. If you’re based in Asia, you may be able to put this into action now. If you’re not, take advantage of the time to learn from the successes and missteps of those who are.

And, of course, Google+ now offers pages for brands.

Photo by alandberning, via Flickr.

Daily Deals Gone Wild

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So I’m wondering how “daily deal” sites target their audiences. It’s not based on the kinds or values of deals we’ve bought in the past.

Because while this does sound like a great deal, that price point isn’t geared to me–and I wonder how many subscribers are looking for this particular bargain.

And it’s not based on geography.

Because I am nowhere near Reno.

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