A little on Social Media
Because @PeggyOlson won the Shorty Award last night, we outed all our Mad Men Characters to the Wall Street Journal which they posted in an article called Behind the Twitter Mad-ness.
We learned a lot about social media in the Mad Men experiement. One of the problems that I've seen in the "industry" is that there are a lot of folks out there who present themselves as experts in something that is rapidly evolving and difficult to define.
This makes it difficult to explain exactly what an agency can do for you if you're looking for a Social Media "expert."
In our exploration of the Twitterverse, I think we've defined a few constants that might help if you're considering getting into social marketing.
Although there are a lot of tools out there to keep an eye on Twitter and other streams, it's the experienced human being who knows what to do and when to act that's important. Catching negative comments and forwarding them to the appropriate department or agency is different than engaging discussion and turning a negative into a positive.
For example, the decision to shut down the Mad Men accounts became a positive for us and we can prove it through the blogs and mainstream press it generated -- they missed the boat and inadvertently created more buzz by doing something stupid.
This is, of course, what people expect Social Media to be all about -- you can go out and make friends. But making them, keeping them, and keeping them interested, are all different things. This takes creative writing skills and an understanding of the message and letting that message change as the medium changes.
Honestly it got harder for me to tweet as Roger Sterling after he became so smitten with Jane -- an aloof, skirt-chasing drunkard gives lots of opportunity to engage people with quick comments. But using that relationship in the Mad Party was brilliant -- it gave not only all our characters something to talk about, but it also gave our friends something juicy to dish on.
The Mad Men experiment doesn't really give us an opportunity to do anything beyond engaging people -- we are not involved with the show, and it would be inappropriate to co-opt the brand. But the agency could have done some really cool promotions through the brand by creating a Sterling Cooper company website, with links to promotional items, teasers and fun stuff.
Star Trek has been doing this for years with "fan" sites which are often driven by Paramount. Even more "in your face" goals like the Bissell Pet Photo contest use the engagement on the web to bring visitors to the site and build basic brand awareness.
This, naturally, requires a nimble team that can create these destinations AND be flexible enough to keep up with the fast pace of the social scene.
Finally, if you're going to do any kind of campaign, you have to have tracking to see how your efforts are panning out. This is different than monitoring in that it's more like tagging your efforts to separate them from the general buzz. For me, this has been similar to existing advertising tracking; pretty much track IP address and referring pages so I know when something really goes viral (like my Songsmith blog).
The data sources keep changing, and I've found my needs keep evolving as I learn more about where data comes from (and goes) and what sources there are to monitor that data. Turns out my blog gets steady traffic from Google Reader, which I only saw when I started including remote images in my blog, so I modified my tracking to system to accommodate RSS readers and found people reading my blog using Firefox's embedded reader, Google Reader, and a couple unidentified sources which may be bots; I don't know yet -- but with tools in place, I can learn.
In the end, it's all about being aware and learning more as you go. Social media lets you do it faster and with a lot more random energy and therefore a lot more opportunity for random creative ways of interacting with people.