Why saying hello to social media in 2012 isn’t for everyone

Social media is a little bit like New Year’s Eve. No one can decide where they want to spend the night, but once someone picks a bar (or club), everyone quickly decides they want to go to that bar, too.

But why do they want to go to that bar? Because that is where everyone else is hanging out, so it makes sense, right?

Not really.

I’m often asked by individuals and brand representatives if they should be using social media. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the situation. And not all social media tools will apply to every person or brand.

G Adventures just launched an Instagram feed. This is a perfect social media tool for G Adventures, because travelling is an emotional experience that can best be communicated visually. Since launching on Instagram, G Adventures has posted a stunning display of images from its destinations, including the “Door to Hell” in Uzbekistan.

For someone who has traveled to more than 40 countries, I must admit that I had never heard of the “Door to Hell” before this moment, but now I have this sudden urge to visit Uzbekistan and discover what this ‘door’ is all about.

This is an example of a brand recognizing a great social media channel to connect with its current and potential customers.

“But we need to be on social media.” – Anonymous

Too many people panic and feel that they have to be on social media because their competitors or friends are ‘playing in the space’. But it rarely makes strategic sense to do something just because other people are doing it.

If Nike – one of the biggest brands in the world – can wait until December 30, 2011 to launch a Twitter feed, then anyone can wait until the time is right. The time is right when it makes strategic sense to jump into social media. For some brands, it may never make strategic sense to start a Twitter feed or launch a Facebook page.

One of the biggest limiting factors for jumping into social media is cost (shockingly, social media IS NOT FREE). I repeat: Social media is not free. There is a high cost associated with keeping up with the demands that come from engaging through these channels. And the demands will only continue to grow.

I find it interesting that some companies will employ a call centre of 500+ to respond to customers, but only employ a team of one or two people to manage its social channels.

In my line of work, I’m often asked which partners integrate well with the CFL on social channels. Many partners want to extend the relationship from the traditional field templates and A-frame signs to the digital world so that they can engage with CFL fans. There are a couple of brands that stand out:

TELUS worked with us at our Grey Cup TweetUp in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, we were trying to increase the number of downloads for the TELUS CFL Mobile App. Any attendee of the TweetUp that downloaded the app on site or already had the app on their phone was rewarded with a TELUS toque. This was especially helpful given that we were in Edmonton and it was double-digits below zero.

At both editions of the TweetUp, TELUS gave away a pair of smartphones. Fans had to send out Tweets using #CFL and #TELUSVIP to enter. Specific criteria for the types of tweets we were looking for was provided.

Both of these integrations into the TweetUp led to increased value for the fans attending the TweetUp and the brands involved. In my opinion, this is a good example of a brand or partner integrating with the CFL.

A second example that I like is the Gibson’s Finest Fan competition, which encourages CFL fans to upload photos of their fandom to Facebook. Other fans then vote for the winners and the winning fans receive a trip to the Grey Cup and the full VIP treatment.

What is great about this contest is that it is simple – every hardcore fan has plenty of photos of himself or herself that they can upload for the contest. They are not being asked to create some fancy video that takes time and effort. Remember K.I.S.S.? Keep it simple and shareable!

All the fans had to do was reach out to their network and get their family and friends to vote in the contest on Facebook. Since most Canadians are on Facebook multiple times per day, this is a great channel for this contest to spread to a wider audience (as opposed to building an isolated microsite). The competitive nature of the contest also led to contestants reaching out on various other social networks to promote their candidacy to become the Finest Fan.

This social media activation worked because it was simple and shareable.

Unfortunately, for each good activation that exists, there is a pile of failed activations. Most of them follow the same script: “Can you tweet/post/share this link?” … The End.

That is not social. Social is a two-way conversation. Social involves some level of engagement.

At the end of the day, it is important to ask yourself which channels make the most sense for achieving the goals you have laid out. Very few brands have the budget or resources to do everything, so make sure you focus on the channels that will be most helpful for achieving your goals.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Keek have made sense for the CFL. We looked at Foursquare, but for now, there doesn’t seem to be a fit. The same is true with running an Instagram feed from a league level; although, Instagram probably makes sense from a team level where they have exclusive access to players on a daily basis. Tying this back to the G Adventures example – the photos are submitted from an army of employees across the globe, which also makes it a good fit.

The bottom line with social media is indeed the bottom line – the more channels you add, the more it will cost financially or in human capital. Social media is a big commitment, so it is important to think it through before jumping into the fray.

About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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8 Responses to Why saying hello to social media in 2012 isn’t for everyone

  1. Now I am wondering about the “Door to hell”. Never heard about it. It is true what you write about social media though, it takes a lot of work, and effort. I know businesses that have gone on f.ex facebook, but then decided to take away their page because it was too much work. I hope you have a great New Years Eve, and an even greater 2012. And I’m looking forward to read your next post.

    • Jaime Stein says:

      Thanks for the comment – ‘Door to hell” really is intriguing, eh? Interesting to hear that others have shut down a Facebook page due to the time/effort it takes to run – it really is hard work. Thanks for reading this post and Happy New Year to you as well!

  2. Michael J says:

    Insightful. Was the best thing I’ve read today.

  3. liquidmocean says:

    Great post. With regards to facebook I think a lot of people bailed when in their wisdom the bods at facebook took away the option for businesses to connect with their page followers with a mail update. This one act cut out the one main characteristic that most business pages were set up for in the first place, contact with a potential client base. What is left? A page that is very time intensive, scratching for ingenious ways to engage and transform browsers into ‘Likers’. I now see my Page (14,260 followers) more as a photo album, photography being one of my core services. I get a lot more business oriented feedback, interaction and results from Twitter.

    Thanks for an interesting read.

    • Jaime Stein says:

      Thanks for the comment and a great point about removing the mail update option. In terms of photos, we find that they are one of the most viewed items that we post on the Facebook.com/CFL. But I agree, the stronger connections do come through Twitter (at least in my experience, too).

  4. Sean Boulton says:

    Jaime, one spot where 4sq might work for the league is through a setup similar to what Cineplex does with their theatres. At most of them, as you’re checking in to the venue, you can directly check in to the specific movie that you’re seeing. I’d think it must be possible to set up something similar with the various stadia, whereby you could check in to the game that you’re attending.

  5. Jaime Stein says:

    The Vancouver Canucks do exactly that and I was able to do so twice over the holidays when I went to Rogers Arena to watch them play. I’m gonna look into it for sure, but still question the value to the league. May be similar to Instagram where the value lies with the teams. Thanks for reading &U commenting. Happy New Year to you!

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