Why you should take the long road

27 July 2010

No matter what you do in life, someone is always looking for a shortcut, from get rich schemes to fad diets. Last year I blogged:

Shortcuts aren’t just for keyboards

Despite the fact that many aspects of our lives continue to be made inexplicably easier with each passing year, there will always be a special group of people looking for a shortcut. 10,000 followers on Twitter in 3 days; a popular blog with scrapings of everyone else’s brilliant content; instant You Tube fame complete with sponsor interest and meme infamy. It alienates those willing to invest time and effort and irritates almost everyone who has to put up with the result. And yet it continues because unfortunately it works. Those who succeed (and even those who don’t) then get to take it to a new level – selling the secret shortcuts to finding the shortcuts.

By my own admission, some people succeed with shortcuts. Here’s the part where I convince you to consider the long (and often hard) road when it comes to social media.

Promotion

Avoid the Field of Dreams approach because the mentality that “if you build it, they will come” will end in Waterworld sized disaster. It’s like creating a direct mail campaign and hoping your customers will happen by your office to pick it up from reception.You need to drive people to your Facebook page, your community of interest, your brand new blog. Your overall objectives should reflect whether you choose to do that through advertising, an email blast or PR activity.

Another unfortunate shortcut is only committing time to the community the day of your campaign launch or promotional activity. You will probably need a few weeks of community management and content generation to build momentum so that your audience doesn’t arrive at any empty space.  You’ll need to work hard for your interactions so ask questions, reward early contributors,  create loads of content to share and remember to give as well as take.

Engagement

In the “who owns social media” battle for supremacy, agencies are talking down the key skills of other disciplines as they hustle for more of the budget. Now I know that digital agencies and in-house marketers value the expertise of communications in social media because of the number of requests for detailed content plans complete with tone, timing and “test” examples – as part of the proposal.  If the focus of your strategy is conversation, invest in someone who can communicate for you, internally or externally.

The difference is remarkable – below is an example of a page run by a digital agency in November who were giving away what must have been a total if $50,000 in daily prizes. Comparatively, during February and March I was managing a community with good old content and conversation and a few giveaways worth maybe $300 in total. Hire the right people for the right job and you’ll get the right results.

Measurement

Unfortunately we can get so caught up in the numbers that we miss one of the most important components of social media reporting – context. With all the hype around social statistics and sentiment during the election, in many cases there has been little done to define the the audience, to what non-social activity the community is responding, or the previous authority of the so-called influencers.  At the time of writing, a spam account actually rounded out one tool’s Top 100 Influential Australian Political Twitterers.

Election hype aside, context tells you if “volcano” is a popular keyword because it’s considered spectacular or dangerous. It tells you if your page views are double the average number because one person keeps refreshing the page to see who has replied to their comment. It tells you that some of your negative sentiment is down to the fact that your audience “can’t wait” until your product release.

Don’t be discouraged by the extra work because at the end of the road you’ll be reaping the benefits. Here’s to your double rainbow.

Double Rainbow while driving to Manitowoc races (8.11.2007)

3 Responses to “Why you should take the long road”

  1. Tweets that mention Collective Conversation » Digital KnowlEdge » Blog Archive » Why you should take the long road -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mandi, Mandi Bateson. Mandi Bateson said: Why you should take the long road http://bit.ly/9TOfjb #socialmedia [...]

  2. Katy Daniells

    Love this, very insightful and really shows the need for maintaining best practice throughout your digital campaign or strategy. Are the 10,000 followers that you could acquire in 3 days really the audience that you want anyway?

  3. OtherAndrew

    I’ve started saying recently that ‘the internet is a meritocracy’. Good content, good management, and good manners are rewarded in the long run. Shortcuts may work for some things for a period, but there’s no substitute for doing things the right way.

    Your article presents a strong case for doing it the right way – and BIG ups for your kick-ass results from the $300 giveaway campaign. Well done.

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