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Old Dog New Tricks

It’s time to teach your social community new tricks: here’s how

2013 already has given brands a shiny new toy to play with in the shape of Vine, others are getting facelifts and the big blue whale continues to swim unabated. But what are YOU doing differently in 2013? Have you really thought about it? There’s no shame if you haven’t… just don’t stay that way. A lot has changed recently and it’s easy to simply keep on churning out the same stuff…after all it’s expected, right?

Paul Armstrong
Paul Armstrong runs HERE/FORTH an advisory that helps business leaders decide how to best use rapidly changing and emerging technologies. More

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Wrong. ”Brandfill” or updates that add little or no value but to superfans (because as we increasingly know not everyone is seeing your gold…) is littering the ecosystem of even the most stringent networks. What does it say to fans if your brand has to lead with a discount to get favouritism? Why are we reinforcing this behaviour? Is discounting the only tool in your box? It’s a big problem and one that is only going to get worse if the new economy/buzzwords du jour (content marketing) takes the strangle hold that is predicted in 2013/14.

My advice? Don’t lead with the discount (don’t discount it totally either). In fact, be blindingly different. Knowing what your community likes and wants from you is paramount to having an active community not just one that is waiting for the next free latte. It’ll be tough initially, and take some time, but at the end of it, you’ll have a non-discount dependent, engaged group of people who are willing to go to bat for you. Is that not better?

There are four mini-principles to do this:

1. Audit
Look at data, talk to your fans, look at what others are doing/not doing. Seek to be different. Seek to be great.

2. Pivot
Now be different. Create strategies that push your new path – brace for impact and be flexible.

3. Commit
Stay the course, get the data, tweak and course correct if necessary — Rome was not built in a day.

4. Review
See what works, lose what doesn’t and try new things. Make sure you continually check with the fans.

Content marketing is important but common-sense says training your flock now makes sense if you want more than simply likes, comments and shares later. Now is the time to really engage with them, take a little pain (less engagement, possible drop-off) and train your people what to expect from you in the future. Make 2013 the year you do something with those fans beyond moving them around. Get them working for you. It’s about time, isn’t it?


This article by Paul Armstrong originally appeared on Paularmstrong.net and is republished with permission.

Image: Hi, I’m Sadie Shih Tzu (via Flickr).

  • Zane Slocombe

    It’s time to teach your social community new tricks, here’s how? Audit, pivot, commit, review.
    (After coming up with an idea that is better than everyone else’s!)

    Some case studies, real world examples of the creative application of social media for constructive engagement was what I was expecting from the article heading. Not even an ‘Audit, pivot, commit, review’ flowchart info-graphic. I am disappointed.

    The link to facebook user survey expectations when engaging with brands was useful, so please don’t take my criticism too harshly, although if you mean what you say about the value of content marketing, don’t put everything in the packaging, is all I am asking.

    It is difficult not to discount and freebies, when this is clearly the overwhelming expectation in the ‘rules of engagement’.

    I prefer to offer added value, which is essentially still giving stuff away for free, without directly discounting (and devaluing) the purchased products. If this can be done strategically, it can lead onto the sale of other goods and services.