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?
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.