Social Media Strategies

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RICK MACDONNELL

BANFF, Alta. — There were two major topics of discussion at the Banff World Media Festival: mobile technology, and social media strategy. So it only followed that “Social Media Strategy: The Networked Effect and Your Business” was one of the most attended and thought-provoking panels at the Banff World Media Festival.

“People are less concerned about privacy now. They’re more interested in sharing themselves and marketing themselves.”

That was the opening servo of Mike Kasprow (Vice President and Creative Director for Trapeze) to what was an enthralling discussion. Kasprow quickly established himself as a leader on the panel, despite being a last-minute fill-in for another panelist. His point about social media marketing went right to the jugular, and kick-started the discussion about how social media leads to real world dollars. 

Social media is a revolutionary marketing tool, but the problem with it is that this market is constantly in flux, constantly evolving. How does one go about presenting a marketing campaign on platforms we haven’t even grasped yet? The answer, Kasprow said, was to attach oneself to the platforms the public has clearly grasped on to. Those being Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

It's not that easy

Each platform offers a very different social experience. Facebook is more casual, it’s a virtual water cooler. Twitter is more fast-paced, more information-oriented. While LinkedIn caters to the businessman in us all. 

“What’s germane to your business” Kasprow asked the crowd. “What’s the best place to articulate your message?

What he was getting at was the business world’s inability (thus far) to differentiate these platforms and understand that they don’t require the same attitudes and approaches, that in fact they require that you don’t use the same attitudes and approaches. 

These sites effectively make up “a number of pieces of an ecosystem that move users through an experience from a plethora of different ways. Each social media platform should offer a different slant on what you do.”

Meaning: be casual and informal on Facebook. Be concise and informative on Twitter. Don’t push out the same blanket statement for every social media platform because users expect different experiences from each site. They want to be sold something on Facebook.

Expecting more from social

“We expect to find more information on social sites now,” said Gary Fearnall, Director of Global Marketing Solutions for LinkedIn Canada. “People are less likely to find their info from websites.” Instead they rely on something like Twitter or LinkedIn to get their daily info dump. People are stopping going to CNN.com directly. Instead, they follow it on Twitter and get the news delivered to them directly as it happens.

The panel then shifted, somewhat to the topic of the end goal of social media. Specifically, that you have to have one.

“Strategically or tactically, you have to have goals, especially with social,” Fearnall said. “If you go through a content campaign thatt gathers 10,000 followers, you better have a content schedule for when the campaign is done.” Otherwise, you’ll lose them as fast as you got them.

Are you looking to drive people from social sites back to your website? Are you looking to strike up conversations as a form of market research? Do you want to keep people on social sites, in a way replacing your own site with Facebook or Twitter?

A cautionary tale

“You’re being held hostage by Facebook,” he said. Just as Myspace did for bands, Facebook is quickly becoming the de facto place for businesses to live online. Kasprow warns against it, saying that Facebook causes a business to conform to certain parameters that Facebook dictates—visually, structurally, and performance-wise. There are some cases where using a social site as a home base makes sense, but do it only when it makes sense.

Have a personality online. Get over the whole privacy issue (at least, to a degree). And interact with your online following. As Crystal Henrikson, Director of Marketing, Canada for Yelp.com put it, “It’s great if you have 500+ contacts on LinkedIn,” Henrikson said, “but if you don’t interact with them one-on-one, what is that worth?"