This is an excerpt from ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind,’ a new book I just co-authored with Spencer X. Smith. ROTOMA is now available at Amazon.
The when, why, and how of social is everywhere. Hundreds of Top 5/10/50 lists of ‘Must dos’ to build your social presence. Millions of words (and pictures) telling when to post, where to post, and how to post. But there’s surprisingly little about the most important content question out there: What to Post?
That is probably the #1 friction point for people wanting to become active on social media. “What should I actually be blogging/tweeting/podcasting/YouTubing about?” is the question that stops too many from actually getting out there by going social. And you know what? It’s a really good question, and one the should be answered strategically before picking up a pencil or hitting the keyboard to craft your first piece of content.
Strategic is a word that delights people like me—but terrifies or mystifies others. I love it because it gives me, the content creator, parameters. In the Creative world, if anything is possible, nothing is. Too many options and possibilities can lead to analysis paralysis. But if Twitter only allows 140 characters, that’s not so hard, right?
It’s about the cereal, not the box.
The fact is, the vast majority of social media conversation is about ‘the box.’ What I’m talking about here is the cereal that goes in it: The actual content of your content marketing. Listicles are a form. Blog posts are a venue. Slideshows are a visual style.
Yes, each of these forms are legitimate, and should be optimized for SEO, friction-less clickthrough, and maximum reader engagement, but for crying out loud, don’t live your Creative life like you’re just waiting to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI). I, for one, don’t welcome our robot overlords.
As a writer, I hate the word ‘content.’ It’s a word non-writers use as a catchall for ‘stuff to fill the box’ (and in many cases they really mean ‘box,’ as in text box, database fields, or wireframe copy blocks).
To call it ‘content’ diminishes the role stories play in transmitting information, attracting attention, and causing engagement strategies to actually engage readers/viewers, and further devalues the role of the writer in identifying, crafting, and optimizing the story to do all the above.
But it’s also shorthand for all those things SEO-optimizers, clickthrough fetishists and customer-journey shamans can’t do yet, but desperately need. The boxes they build need a constant supply of killer cereal.
So what’s your cereal? Your true story.
What’s your true story? That’s a topic for another book, and the basis for my NonFiction Branding™ approach. It stipulates that your personal brand is inextricably based to your true story—and that the essence of that story should align perfectly with who you are, what you do, and the unique way you do it.
Think of a brand that you love. Any brand. Could be a product, service—or professional football team. Why do you love it? Not buy it, but love it. Answer that question about yourself/your company, and you’ve identified a story worth telling and showing via social media.
Social is about showing.
Every person, product, service, and company has a story to tell, and the very best marketers never, ever stop telling some version of it. That story: their own, distinct truth.
Carex Consulting is a career matchmaking firm that relies on a steady stream of top performing ‘graduates’ from a specific local company (Company X), then finds the right fit for not only those candidates, but also their corporate clients who want such battle-tested performers for their organizations.
In the old days of strictly traditional media, Carex may have placed a billboard in close proximity to that high-turnover company in order to get their message out to potential candidates.
But these are the brave new days of social. How could Carex work to become ‘top of mind’ for any soon-to-be or already ex-Company X employee? How could they possibly use social media to get their message out to potential candidates before, during, and after their transition out of said company? By taking a page out of @katiecosplays playbook:
This is how social media works. Katie gets a new job, and she’s naturally excited about it, so she shares her joy with her friends and followers on Instagram. Yea, Katie! But also a big ‘Yea’ for Workfront.
Katie is already proving her value to her brand-new employer in a single photo. Count the number of references (direct and indirect) to Workfront.
1. Workfront logo on building (Wow, they are established enough to own a building.)
2. Workfront logo on lanyard (Casually embracing their newest employee.)
3. Katie tags @workfront in her post, closely associated with an assortment of love-oriented emojis.
4. Katie raves about her excitement for Workfront
5. Note the comment from her follower ‘eraru.’ He quietly endorses not only Katie’s employment decision, but Workfront’s service platform.
And in terms of engagement? 601 Likes in just one day? Nice. Add in all the lurkers, and Workfront’s got some really great ROTOMA for a single post that cost them absolutely nothing.
Buried lede: Katie’s Instagram follower count (at time of writing): nearly of 44,000. Cosplaying as major ROTOMA technique? I guess so.
Wow. Workfront, Katie already deserves a raise.
As a company, what it you could multiply this ROTOMA-generating technique times the number of people you employ. Sure, some will do it better than others (and some should probably not be doing it at all), but just imagine the amount of authentic ROTOMA you’d build to your brand.
I’ll say it again: that’s the way social works. Is it working like that for you?
This is Ninja level technique.
Back to Carex Consulting. They have an entire marketing plan filled with the regular blocking and tackling necessary to get their message to their audiences, but when it comes to infiltrating the vast community of ex-Company Xers, a technique like this is totally ninja.
Here’s how I recommended it could work for them:
1. Place a candidate at a new job.
2. Ask them to grab a selfie in front of a distinct landmark associated with their new company (logoed building, exterior sign, conference room, etc.).
3. Ask that new employee to post the selfie to their feeds with the following hashtags: #1stDayNewGig #thxCarex.
And that’s it. The post will instantly enter that person’s social network, which undoubtedly includes many current or recent Company X employees. Now when such employees are ready to leave, or get churned out, guess what placement company is ‘top of mind’ with them? That’s right, Carex Consulting. Get in, leave your calling card, and exit without leaving a trace. Brilliant social tactic? Hai!
Best way to begin? Start at the end.
What is it about your product, service, or self that you’d like your social audience to not only understand but believe? What’s the takeaway you hoping to leave firmly entrenched in the mind of every reader/viewer? Here are a few for your consideration:
• That’s a really smart/interesting/novel take.
• The creator of this post has great taste and a far-seeing radar.
• This person sorts through the crap and always delivers gold.
• What a great summary of a complicated topic.
“What do I want my audience to takeaway from this?” Answering that question before starting is a great way to focus the post while putting yourself into an audience-relevance mindset. What may have been an ‘I’ idea (as in “I want to say this”) suddenly becomes a far more audience relevant ‘You’ takeaway (as in “Here’s what you can do today”).
If you’ve ever clicked on a link entitled something like “5 fast ways you can improve your site in 5 minutes,” you have experienced this “Not I, You” orientation in action. It focuses the post on ‘You’ user benefit, all the while demonstrating ‘I’ expertise. You provide value. You demonstrate mastery of the post topic. You raise your profile, not by “look at me,” but with “here’s my gift to you.”
Good things. Small packages. Big ROTOMA.
And the crazy thing is just how small that gift can be. Prime example: a simple Facebook Like. While Spencer goes deeper on this subject (see ROTOMA’s Free Like, page 145), my point is pretty simple: a nanosecond of activity on your part has the potential to generate an outsized response from its recipient. Ever get a Like on any social channel from a long, lost high school buddy, and then reconnect in some way? That’s ROTOMA, baby.
– D.P. Knudten > Chief Collaborator > COLLABORATOR creative
©2017 D.P. Knudten / COLLABORATOR creative – all rights reserved
D.P. Knudten, the Chief Collaborator at COLLABORATOR creative, is a ~25-year veteran in advertising and marketing. Providing everything from highly personalized marketing consulting; custom copywriting; content marketing strategy, creation, execution; and his NonFiction Branding™ system, D.P. collaborates creatively to identify, craft, and communicate the true brand stories of complicated products, services, and companies, and shares his personal POV about all the above—and more—via speaking opportunities to groups throughout the U.S.