You can say what you want about the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama. You can love him or hate him for his political views or his health care plan, but he has done more for Heart &Mind® Branding and social media than just about anyone in the world. Because it was Barack Obama who proved to the laggards (a.k.a the business community) something that the college and high school age set has known for years: that social media; i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et. al. is a fantastic way to a build relationships simply through the art of staying in touch.
To put it in business terms: using social media is a great way to build relationships with people who may or may not be your customers by attracting them to your brand, letting them get to know you and what you stand for and nurturing as many of them as you can to the level of brand enthusiast. At last, the Internet has become a powerful vehicle for delivering the heart aspects of a brand. It has always been good delivering the mind-based facts.
I call the branding world we live in today “The Post-Obama Era” because at just about the time of his inauguration, the lid was blown off of the box that was containing social media and labeling it a time waster for the world’s youth. Finally the online brand-building strategies we have been recommending to many and being accepted by few has now gone mainstream…almost. Connecting with the many to win their hearts and minds (in that order), a main tenant of Heart & Mind™ Branding, has never been more attainable for such a low relative cost.
I encounter my share of skeptics who say, “I tried Twitter and it doesn’t work.” Or, “I hired someone to get me on Facebook and it was just a waste of money.” My responses to statements like these are usually in the form of probing questions, the most telling of which is, “How long have you been working on it?” Usually they say a few months and sometimes less. At that point, I know. They haven’t given it a fair shake.
In that short of a time span, people who can likely buy their services or products haven’t even had a chance to find and form a relationship of any sort with them. Think about it. It’s a rare person who is ready to get married after dating just a month or two. And it’s an even rarer person who marries someone he or she doesn’t know…without alcohol being involved.
How soon we forget that campaigning for the 2008 presidential primaries started in 2006. Obama and his legions spent two years, maybe more, planning, building followers and swaying voters to his camp. How much time have you worked your social media strategy before throwing up your hands? Is it that social media doesn’t work, or is it that you haven’t worked social media?
Remember Newton’s First Law of Inertia, otherwise known as Heasley’s First Law of Consumerism: An object (or consumer) at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an equal and opposing force. And in Heasley’s Law, acted upon means acted upon often.
If you are old enough to have spent some time or any time doing traditional marketing or traditional media buying, then you know how long it takes and how many impressions you must make on a person to get him or her out of the chair. It took a lot in the pre-Obama era and it takes even more now. The Post-Obama Era is an exponentially more cluttered world than before.
So my point is before you discount the very strategies and tactics that handily won a presidential election in 2008 and possibly even won a Nobel Peace Prize, make sure of the following:
- Be sure you are working with someone who knows how to do more than set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Social media like any other media endeavor requires a strategic branded approach. It requires marketing experience and technical know-how mixed with extreme passion and dedication. This is not for dabblers. There’s too much to know, and too much to learn in an environment of constant change. It’s easy to fall behind; take a vacation and you’re out of it!
- Infuse the principles of Heart & Mind® Branding into what you do. Make yourself genuine, meaningful and different. Depth on your posts matter. This is your chance to look like a leader. I know some companies hire high school kids to work their fingers posting. That scares me. Kids may be bright, get the technology and be very cheap labor, but are they savvy enough to position you and your company as a leader? I don’t think so. Your reputation is on the line.
- Set goals and keep adjusting your online strategy to meet them. Like anything else in marketing, it takes trial and error to find the home runs. Most people give up too soon. Know what success looks like and head there, adjusting as you go. If success was easy everyone would be successful, and clearly that’s not the case. The people who don’t give up are the ones who win.
- Understand that social media is media; just like TV, radio and newspapers are media. If you put garbage into a TV or radio commercial, would you expect the commercial to drive any business your way? Of course not. Why then would anyone think social media would be different? So as Heart & Mind® Branding teaches us, make what you do meaningful to your audiences. Show, don’t tell and never blatantly promote. You want someone who can generate excitement and buzz, not just post a few happenings here and there. That takes a creative, strategic marketing mind.
- And finally, the magic comes through creativity. Yes just because your mom has a Twitter account doesn’t make her a creative marketer. You want a creative marketing mind who understands this new medium and how it connects with the rest of the online and 3-dimensional worlds. Social media is just one strategy and most seasoned marketers know there is no one strategy that will drive success. It takes a blend of strategies creatively working together.
The Post-Obama Era brings with it business opportunities like the world has never seen before. But let’s not mistake opportunity for ease. Success in this era will take work. Lots of it, in new ways. Seize social media now and you’ll be ahead in the game. Wait too long and you may struggle just to get in it.
What is branding? Heart & Mind® Branding.