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The other day I heard someone define themselves as a real-world introvert|social-media extrovert. I can relate. I’m actually a walking introvert (cleverly disguised in baggy shorts, baseball cap, and Ray Bans), who likes to be in the highest place in the room, conducting the conversation. I can’t explain it. Lone introvert|group extrovert? Gameface? Who knows.

Anyhow, we’ve been talking a lot about the potential of social media around here. And, we’ve been talking a lot about the silliness of the supposed potential of social media. The technology has spawned revolutions (peaceful and otherwise) in parts of the world we thought were dark. It has generated rapid waves of transactions. It has made and killed brands in minutes. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to ruin one’s own reputation with stupidity, documented for posterity. And yet, for a deft introvert, social media technology affords the first real opportunity to reinvent oneself since the opening of the transcontinental railroad began to close the West.

Of course, like all media, the best, longest-lived, most effective use of social media, for either the brand or the individual, is to use consistent, authentic, sincere, continuous communication (visual, verbal, tactile, and olfactory) to hold up our end of a big conversation among an entire community. Which brings up another problem.

When disingenuous, old-media brands do social media, they tend to fall into the trap of thinking the “brand community” is their property. By doing so, of course, they become the loud boar, holding forth at a tea party, inspiring everyone else to back slowly, politely, and discreetly out of the room. I hope somebody will tell me if any of our social media programs begin to have that flavor. Please.

Here are some quick thoughts about brands in social media (thoughts, not rules):

1. Be polite. Nobody likes a jerk. Much. Unless your really funny. And (just between us), you’re not.
2. Shut up. The best conversationalists are the ones that listen first. Listen best. Listen last. And listen always.
3. Be the expert. There are some things your community wants to hear from you about. When asked, speak.
4. Be humble. Don’t announce your posts with things like, “As the advertising industry’s recognized leading expert on blah, blah, blah, I believe that blah, blah, blah.” Pompous jerk is what I think we call that guy. Don’t be him.
5. Be generous. Deflect praise. Give compliments. Give credit away. Find excuses to compliment your community, your peers, your team mates, your competitors, your vendors… Nobody ever thought less of somebody for recognizing the good in others.
6. Be visual. A picture is worth a thousand words (well, my contention is that this depends on both the picture and the words, but you get the point).
7. Be in motion. A video is worth a thousand…of…something. Anyhow, video is good.
8. Sing. If not in social media, at least in the shower. It’s good for you.
9. If it’s part of your brand strategy, make it a PART OF YOUR BRAND STRATEGY. Don’t try to force fit your print or television advertising into social media, just for the sake of “repurposing.” It will look clunky. And you will look like you don’t get it. And, don’t create cute little game apps, that sing and dance, and catch on fire…just to be cute and social, without regard for what your brand stands for. You will look…cute and irrelevant. And you’ll burn through your budget with nothing to show for the spend.

Anyhow, we’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff. Hope this was useful. Sure was cathartic.

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