In my previous post I wrote about what activation is, and The House That Twitter Built activation example. Now, let’s talk more about HOW to do it (strategy). It’s one thing to activate a truly grass roots movement, like the example in The House That Twitter Built. It’s another challenge entirely to activate around a brand or even a non-profit organization, right?
In his helpful post How To Integrate Social Media With Traditional Media, my wise friend Tom Martin (@tommartin on Twitter) says, “ask yourself – from a creative, offer or conversation perspective – how can you best connect with your audience?” and that is a great starting place. There are stories you can tell, utilities you can create, and people you can connect. We’ve talked about those things here before, and they are often where I start translating “traditional” features and benefits into online relevance.
Today, though, a few weeks after the experience that was #saveteecycle, I’m going to offer up a new overriding thought that I am carrying around with me. The single most important, effective social strategy that you should be considering – beyond telling stories, beyond being useful, beyond even connecting people is this simple:
INVOLVEMENT. Involvement trumps the overused “engagement” every time, IMHO. Engagement is great, but more passive. Involvement is you or your brand, ALL IN.
Creating ways for people to get involved with your brand is part of it, as I discussed in that previous post. For more on that, read this foundational post from Edward Boches, Four Criteria for Your Next Creative Idea (sharable, participatory, interactive and continuous).
Beyond that, if you are serious about social marketing, it is equally important that you get involved back. Make something happen. Get off the sidelines, where you are watching, possibly responding, which is all great, but not really enough for real activation purposes, and dive in head first. “Like what?” you may be thinking, if you’re jumping ahead to tactics which is just human nature. Well, you can make a lot of things happen. Here are a few thought starters for you.
You can make an event or a series of events happen, or a full-blown cause marketing program. Just make sure it’s something that your audience actually cares about. Putting events in the middle of your strategy feeds both digital content and PR content and sets up a cycle-of-messaging-awesomeness (registered trademark).
Or, try this approach. At any given time, there are myriad social events movements happening online already, large and small. Rather than create your own events, especially if you’re a small-to-medium business with limited marketing and human resources, find an existing event or movement that fits with what you stand for and ask how you can get involved with it. This can create social momentum for you with relatively little monetary investment; you will, however, generally have to invest some sweat equity. If you’re not willing to do that, this approach is not for you.
Another possibility: Surprise people. Show up. Be Johnny Depp showing up at an elementary school in your Captain Jack Sparrow costume. Metaphorically speaking, of course. How can you, as a brand, “show up” for your customers and fans in a new and surprising way? An example of this could be unexpected celebrity appearances, or it could be as “simple” as Nokia being at rock concerts with soundproof booths so people can talk on their cell phones (which also creates an off-the-charts amount of utility).
These are just some thought starters. The intention to get actively involved leads to different ways of thinking about tactics. Think way beyond “the conversation”. Think beyond “engagement”. Think about how you can get more actively involved with your audience and the things they care about. You still have to wrap it in engaging, sharable, participatory, interactive and continuous communication.
What do you think? Do you see getting more involved as a potential strategy for your brand? I’d love to hear what challenges you have with this and help talk them through. Or, if a higher level of involvement has worked for you, tell us about it so we can learn from it, too. Thanks.