How to Get Your Brand on “Facebooks and Twitters”

February 9th, 2010 |


VP/Digital Account Director at The Martin Agency. Advertising geek, web addict, social media fanatic, and insomniac blogger. Read more from Eric at Pixel Maverick.

The Request

If you work in advertising or PR, you have probably heard one of your clients fumble out a request statement regarding this title at some point during the last couple of years. If I had to guess, your marketing client (or his/her CEO boss) recently read an article about how social media is changing the game and how brands need to join today or die tomorrow.

The Response

Upon hearing this request, you paused for a second out of fear that your inner laughter might slip out…then you responded with a confident “We can do it! We’ll get back to you with a SMEDIA plan next week that will blow you away, or something to that effect.

Billable Brainstorming

The Boozy Laughter

You and your colleagues left the meeting and headed to the hotel bar (this fictitious meeting is out of town, by the way) where you all had a good laugh about what just happened — oh, those silly clients, ha ha. You expense the tab several drinks later to your client, and hit the sack.

The Reality

When you woke up the next morning, the reality of it hit you. “Shit! How the heck do we create a SMEDIA plan?”

The Guidelines

Not that I have ever found myself in this position, mind you (pause…), but I have found that the following simple guidelines are helpful to overcoming your “Oh, shit!” dilemma about developing a sound SMEDIA plan for a brand:

1) Answer the Obvious First — Before you waste a week, make sure you ask yourself whether the brand should even be doing anything in social media. Unless the brand is Depends, the answer is probably yes.

2) Establish a Brand Voice — When you get back to your agency, go find the planner and the copywriter for the brand and tell them to personify the brand (you should have already done this anyway, slacker). What would this brand sound like if it were having a conversation with someone? Write a statement of voice and several scenarios on how your brand (he or she) would respond to hypothetical “what ifs” to establish a platform.

I Spy Twitters

3) Go Find Your Audience — Guess what? Your brand’s target audience is already heavily addicted to social media. Do some digging and figure out what their online social habits are. If you are lazy, Facebook is probably a safe guess, but after that, it gets tricky; you can’t just make assumptions about Twitter, Foursquare (no, not the game from school), or blogs.

4) Know Your Social Circle — There is nothing worse than a brand that hops into Facebook or Twitter and clearly does not get it (“Hello Facebookers — be my friend? Buy my crap now?”). Chances are that you yourself are a heavy social media user, so take off your advertising goon hat for a second and think like you do when you’re not working. What features do you use, what do you ignore, what makes you instantly think lame!, and what habits have you formed?

5) Be able to Answer the “Why Should I Care?” Question — Your brand probably already has some sort of Value Proposition that has been analyzed and presented in no less than 20 presentation decks at your disposal. That’s great. Now go find the one slide that from all that BS that will provide you some insight into why a person would want to follow or have a conversation with your brand in a social setting.  Is it because your brand is cool and they want to be cool, too? Is your brand controversial or related to something that spurs conversation or debate? Do people want to stay updated on the latest news OR just be connected in order to get discounts? All of these are good reasons for why they should care, and you need to pinpoint the “WSIC” for your brand.

6) Call Legal and Set Some Protocols — Chances are your client’s legal department is not prepared for how to handle the lack of control that goes along with social media. Their immediate response will be to try and roadblock everything into a tiny space between Weak & Boring. Get your marketing client to help you fight this fight, but understand where the legal department’s fear is coming from. They don’t want a fiasco à la Domino’s Pizza to happen to them. Work with them to prepare some pre-set rules and an escalation plan with assigned stakeholders for how to identify and deal with a crisis.

7) Make a Splash and Learn as You Go — You will need to have some sort of acquisition strategy for your entry into your selected social media environments. A contest, or an awareness campaign of some sort, are the usual suspects here depending on your brand. Leverage the analytic information that Facebook offers for free (and, eventually, academic data) about this to find out what other brands have done successfully. After you get your brand’s social media campaign kicked off, be prepared to continually monitor/learn/change in order to engage your audience. Go ahead and set your client’s expectations on this ongoing evolution as well and save yourself the future grief. Social media engagement is a relationship that takes time, not a 30 second spot one night stand.

Wrap it Up and Bring it to the Client

After spending a week or two going through the guidelines listed above, you should have a good base of information to prepare a plan. This part should be easy since creating pretty presentation decks is something even out-of-touch agencies do well. The good news is that this deck will finally have a solid social media strategy as the foundation.

Wrap up all of the aforementioned details, take it to the client, pitch it, and win it!  Then it’s back to the hotel for more drinks and laughter.


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Eric Williamson