Social Messaging: Best Practices for Getting Your Messages Shared
When it is time to call out a competitor? What do the authentic content producers do to beat the high-volume producers? What if my product is boring? Author/Expert Jennifer Cario walks OMCP through the current best practices for social media messaging in this OMCP article+podcast.
|This episode is brought to you by: Concordia College–New York’s fully online, advanced-technology master’s degree programs in Digital Marketing and Digital Media.|
The OMCP Online Marketing Best Practices Podcast is where top authors and industry leaders share authoritative best practices in online marketing which are covered by the OMCP standard, competencies, and exams. This is an OMCP pilot program that may continue based on member interest and support. Stay subscribed to the OMCP newsletter to get new episodes.
Best Practices for Social Messaging:
Michael: All right. Welcome back to the OMCP studios and with us today is Jennifer Evans Cario, published author, speaker, social media
faculty chair at Simplilearn’s Market Motive and president at SugarSpun Marketing. Jennifer is the author of “Pinterest Marketing: An Hour A Day” through Wiley Publishers and sought after by the world’s top brands as an authority on social media best practices. I’m your host, Michael Stebbins and today we’ll be discussing social messaging: best practices for getting your message shared. Jen, welcome to the OMCP Best Practices Podcast. It’s good to have you here in the studio, thank you so much for being here.
Jennifer: Hey, thanks for having me Michael. It’s great to be here.
Michael: Jen, you and I, if I remember, met in 2004 when I was
helping you cover my…I wasn’t helping you, I was hoping you’d cover my company. At the time it was John and I at ClickTracks and I was looking for you to cover us in your SEO publication. Since then, I know you’ve published several books, helped a number of brands, but before we get started…for those who haven’t read your books or attended your classes or heard you speak, tell our audience who are you and what is it that you do?
Jennifer: Jeez, way back there in 2004 it was all about SEO but…wow, that really starts to date us. Actually, in the last decade or so I’ve moved over into the social media world so what I’ve been focusing on more lately is kind of hitting the conference circuits. I do a lot of the industry-specific shows, the SEMA show in the automotive world, the Craft and Hobby Association’s shows and I teach a lot of workshops on social media best practice. And then in terms of sort of the business and the consulting side, I’ve been doing some work the last year or two with brands like Ford and AkzoNobel, that runs deluxe paints throughout Europe. Really helping their social media team figure out how to merge that marketing side and that PR side to really make sure the message is strong and it’s consistent and they’re really leveraging this new technology to really be able to communicate well with our target audience.
Michael: Jen, one of the things about you that makes you unique is that you’re able to help small businesses with a small business strategy and you’re able to help some of the world’s largest brands. I know some of them who have called you in time of need and what is it that allows you to span that kind of diversity?
…you’ve got to know the passion points of your audience.
Jennifer: Well, you know we’ve joked…some in the industry would call it sort of the “Pollyanna Approach,” and you know every now and then we get a couple comments that, “You know, Jen really…she makes everything simple.” The reality is, it is simple. The tools you use, the way you scale it, that’s a little bit more complicated but really the best practices, the things we look at on social media…whether you’re a one-man shop or a one-woman shop, or you’re an enterprise company, they’re the same. It’s just how we do it that changes.
Michael: In your classes that I’ve attended and looked at before, you can boil down some of the best practices for social media messaging to four, five, or six different practices. So I’m going to put you on the spot, can you just summarize them for us and then we’ll go through them one by one?
Jennifer: Ah, let’s see. Okay, so, I’d say probably the absolute number one would be making sure that you’re really ensuring authenticity. That’s just a requirement whether it’s owned content or influencer marketing.
- Ensure authenticity
- Challenge competitors vs. attack
- Join PR efforts and social messaging
- Map each channel to its strengths
- Shape initial message, then adjust as possible
Jennifer: The second one would probably be understanding that challenging competitors are kind of doing comparisons within the industry. That’s acceptable for most strategies but keeping in mind that attacking competitors, that’s a little more high risk.
Michael: We’ll go over that, I’m interested to hear how you handle that. What’s number three?
Jennifer: Let’s see, number three…okay, we’ll go back to the PR teams and marketing. Social media messaging really works best when your PR team and your marketing team are really sharing resources and ideas.
Michael: Okay, next.
Jennifer: Mapping each messaging channel to its strengths, that’s a really big one. Making sure you’re using segmentation so you can target the language to your specific audience or to the product launch or the marketing campaign.
Michael: I know that you teach that our message is sometimes not our own…
Jennifer: Oh, we really wish it was, but no. It’s just not. So, if we were wrapping it up with five, we’d probably say that initial message definition, it’s up to you but you’ve got to be prepared to redefine or modify based on audience perspective and what you’re hearing.
Michael: Okay. So folks, that will will be on the exam. You’ll see those align perfectly with the OMCP competency standards and outcomes so that list is a takeaway right there for your study guide. So now, we get to go into detail. Jen, some people argue that volume or frequency of posting is key. I think we know that that’s not the case. What do the authentic content producers do to beat the high volume producers?
What do the authentic content producers do to beat the high volume producers?
Jennifer: Well, you know Mike, I think if the internet has taught us anything it’s that everybody thinks they can create content and very few people can do it with quality. We’re living in such a content-glut world of internet marketing and social media marketing right now that we really see a lot of potential for the companies that are authentic, that offer value, that content really starts to stand out. So, I really think it comes down to companies kind of embracing all this new technology and starting to understand that they have to find where they’re most comfortable. So maybe that’s, you know, running the gamut with infographics, maybe it’s Facebook Live streaming, maybe it’s writing great blog articles and Whitepapers. It’s really making sure that you’re leveraging the different technology available to figure out what let’s you have that authentic voice. The quality.
Michael: So, the number one question I get is, “What if it’s boring?”
Jennifer: Well, you know, some of that’s gonna depend on what it is you’re writing about. If you’re selling FloMeters, let’s be honest, it’s a little hard to make those super, super exciting but you’ve got to know the passion points of your audience. That’s where social really lets us listen and see that feedback because hey, if it’s that new FloMeter with amazing technology, someone’s going to be excited about it. You just have to know what their passion point is. So, no it can’t be boring, but it still has to, again, hold true to what it is you’re trying to get out there. You just have to be listening so you can figure out what it is that makes them respond and you’re kind of weaving that into your narrative.
Michael: What are some of the boundaries on honest? I know that honesty’s important, you know, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to reveal our financials, right?
Jennifer: Well, there’s honest, and then there’s just, you know, opening up the door to everything. No one’s saying we have to do that.
There’s nothing wrong with calling someone out.
Michael: So what are some guidelines…if somebody’s pitching this inside of their organization and they’re trying to convince the management team, you know, that we need to be authentic and honest, what’s an example of too far or what’s a way to communicate that type of boundary?
Jennifer: That’s a great question. I think too far goes either in the direction where you’re trying so hard to get everyone to like you that maybe you’re revealing a little bit more than is necessary. You start to walk the line of “it’s the truth but it’s stretched just a little bit” and I think not far enough is that idea of, “Well, we can’t let people know because if we get it in front of our target audience we’re also gonna get it in front of our competitors.” And just that mindset that we have to protect this and put everything behind a wall. There’s that sweet spot in the middle there that you have to look for of…you’ve got to give people enough to make them want to reach out and contact you to get some of those more face-to-face conversations so that you can reveal a little bit more but you wanna make sure that anything and everything you put out is beyond question. Because on the internet there’s always going to be someone that’s more than willing to go find that little piece of truth you stretched just a little bit too far and call you out on it.
Michael: It’s happened before.
Attacking Competitors is a High Risk Strategy. Unless….
Michael: You mentioned that challenging competitors or comparing within the industry is okay for most strategies but attacking competitors can be a high risk strategy.
Jennifer: Yeah, that’s one that I’m still surprised how many companies I run into that really kind of have that bulldog approach and they’re so convinced that what they have is so much better than everyone else that they want to get out there and kind of shout it from the mountaintops. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out “Okay, hey this is what this product does and this is what our product does,” but there’s a kind of a polite and nice way to do that and then there’s kind of a vicious and mean way to do that.
Michael: Or maybe instead of polite and nice, maybe it’s helpful, right? Or revealing. It’s data-centric.
Jennifer: Yes. And I don’t mean polite as in you can’t possibly ever say anything bad. There’s nothing wrong with calling someone out or saying, “Hey, they claim they do this but you know, when we test it, this is actually what happens here or here’s why people like our option so much better.” Again, in a world where reputation management can jump up and down so fast, just even based on what the mood or the pulse within an industry is on a particular day, always come back to that idea that you want to make sure that your approach to that challenge again is authentic, it’s above board, it doesn’t open you up to difficulty. We’ve talked at points in the past about sort of, that attacking approach and I still go back to…unless you can do it with just the right sense of humor to be able to get away with it…my all-time favorite example still goes back to that “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” commercials where even the PC owners still watched that and laughed and were like, “Okay, yeah, that’s true our product does kind of do that but I still love my PC.” You really have to have a brilliant finger on the pulse and a read on how to communicate to be able to do that and that’s why for the most part I just tell people that’s a better one to steer clear of.
Michael: And I think that’s a good time to bring in some outside voices.
Michael: You know, maybe an agency or even a focus group and try something out to make sure you get it right.And then once you got it right you can feel confident about going out to the market with that.
Michael: I think your point three was talking about when PR teams and marketing teams are sharing resources and ideas.
How PR + Social can Create an Advantage
Jennifer: You know, this is an area that’s really interesting to me in working with small companies versus big companies, because small companies…this is really, truly where their bigger advantage is because they can move so much faster. So, a lot of times when you’ve got that smaller company your PR team and your marketing team might be the same person, or it might be such a small group that you’re not really operating in distinct verticals. They really have embraced that idea of making sure that the influencer outreach and the conversation and the feedback…that that’s being used to feed the marketing conversations. The really common theme I see when I go into some of these larger Fortune 500 companies and try to talk with them and work with them on what their messaging is going to look like is that there’s still sort of this established mentality of, “PR sits in this room and Marketing sits in this room. Sometimes, even that Advertising sits in a third room.” Pulling together sort of that converged media strategy is really a challenge in the conversation because they’re missing all of these amazing stories and conversations and sort of consumer-driven ideas and approaches that can be leveraged by the marketing team just because that conversation isn’t really being enabled within the agency.
Michael: We’ve seen the PR team be the fuel for so much outbound content you know, obviously factored up from a press release.
On Facebook, your organic posts can now be segmented for free without paying for promotion to different audiences.
Michael: Give it a little bit of meat. I noticed a tool, I hope I get the tool name right…it was called
Socialize This [correction it is “Everyone Social“] . It’s a tool that, as I understand it, allows the PR and marketing teams to broadcast to the sales reps and the marketing reps and all employees any kind of content and outbound from the company and give them the option to socialize it on their own channel and their own network. I’ve noticed that people who use that tool tend to coordinate the teams, and their outbound content and engagement on their channels goes sky-high.
Jennifer: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s just having that internal conversation taking place.
Michael: Jen, number four that you mentioned is mapping each messaging channel to strengths and using segmentation to target the language to your audience. What does that look like?
Segmentation is Magic
Jennifer: Well, you know, for a long time social really was kind of just Twitter and Facebook and what was going out on your blog. Now we’ve reached this point where there’s so many different channels and they have so many different styles. The way you communicate to someone on Instagram or you know, via Snap is gonna be very, very different than what you’re doing on Facebook or Twitter. It’s really easy for companies to get caught up in this idea of putting this message together and then just mass-broadcasting it out everywhere and it makes me so sad to see that because again, on Twitter, you might be playing up the hashtags and on Instagram it might be about the visual side of it and on Facebook you wanna make sure there’s questions and engagement. That same concept really needs to be presented to each of these different channels just in a different format. It doesn’t change the idea, it doesn’t change what’s behind it, but sort of the lead-in our the touch point that’s happening on those channels has to be specific. As we look at the segmentation options that are popping up partially through paid promotions but also even organically on Facebook, you know, your organic posts that go in can now be segmented for free without paying for promotion to different audiences. So, the ability to say we recognize only a certain subset of our audience is going to be interested in this message and we wanna make sure that’s who we’re prioritizing getting it in front of really gives you the chance to almost engage on a micro-level with subsets of your broader target audience. That really gives your social messaging so much more power.
Michael: Jen, you point out that the initial message is something that we shape.
Jennifer: Well, we try.
Michael: Shortly thereafter, we have to be prepared to redefine or modify it based on the audience perspective or frankly what the audience just might do with our message once it’s out.
Michael: Walk us through those processes.
Your Message Will Get Changed. Here’s How to Steer it.
Jennifer: Well, you know, for fans of Mad Men, there’s a quote that pops up in Mad Men that says, “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” That was great when everything ran straight through advertising, when the brand was a one-way channel voice down to the consumers. That’s just not what happens now because so much of the conversation around a brand isn’t even coming from the brand, it’s the conversation that’s taking place consumer to consumer. So we can try and shape what we want people to focus on. We can try and shape what we view as our selling points or what we view as our brand, but ultimately it’s that whole “perception is reality” thing, right? So, as consumers start to say, “My experience doesn’t match up with what they’re telling me and this is my…” that starts to kind of take over and roll. A brand that’s done a really, really great job with this was the MINI, the car. They did this great campaign where they actually sourced all of their both digital banner advertising and even their in-person advertising off of that idea that MINI owners are quirky. They love their cars, they’re a little weird, they’re a little funky, and just started pulling images and pictures and using that to push everything that they put out and really to shape the campaign that they ran for about an 18-month time period a year or so ago. They really let the consumers define the message and I think that was a really great example of companies starting to recognize that, “Look, it might not be exactly what we want to have out there but it resonates and if we take it and we run with it, then we can still kind of steer it. We might not be defining it but we can still steer it in a way that really works for us while being respectful of what our customers themselves think of us and what they have to say.”
Michael: A happy audience will amplify what they like.
You have to know what it is you want to accomplish before you even really worry about the messaging.
Michael: And what they can identify with and if we can change, and adapt, and align with that then oftentimes we can increase the amplification.
Michael: I know that we just covered a quick snapshot of some of the best practices related to social messaging…any other tips or overall processes or strategies that we didn’t cover?
Tie All Efforts Back to Business Goals
Jennifer: You know, I think even within sort of the subset of social messaging it comes back to one of those big things that I always push for best practice across the board in social media as a whole…you have to think about what your goal is. Everything you do in social media needs to tie back to your business goal. So, whether that’s figuring out what audience you want to meet, whether that’s figuring out you know, are you trying to change your brand perception? Repair a reputation? You have to know what it is you want to accomplish before you even really worry about the messaging because the messaging has to have a way to directly tie back to that goal or you’re really just out there being part of a conversation. It’s not that there’s not value in that, but at the end of the day we all have to justify our budgets.
Michael: Okay. Well, that’s all the time we have today and a big thank you to Jennifer Evans Cario. You’ll find Jennifer’s web-based social media training at Simplilearn and you can engage her and her team at Sugar Spun Marketing to provide training for your teams in social media and content marketing. And also, they can pick up your book, right Jen?
Jennifer: On amazon.com, absolutely yep.
Michael: On amazon.com. It’s “Pinterest Marketing: An Hour A Day” through Wiley publishing. I’m your host, Michael Stebbins and you’ve been listening to OMCP Online Marketing Best Practices Podcast. OMCP maintains the certification standards for the online marketing industry in cooperation with industry leaders just like Jennifer. Join us inside of OMCP to maintain your certification, get special offers and join other certified professionals in universities and training programs that value the OMCP standards. Network with other certified professionals or trainers while helping OMCP maintain an excellent standard. Actually Jen, you’re an OMCP certified trainer as well.
Jennifer: I absolutely am.
Michael: All right. Membership [at OMCP] is only $40 each year so we’ll see you inside of OMCP as a certified professional where we’ll be learning and improving our professional careers and teams together.
|Be sure to check out this episode’s sponsor: Concordia College–New York’s fully online, advanced-technology master’s degree programs in Digital Marketing and Digital Media.|