What is ‘IT’?

I just tweeted this:

it’s not about 1:1 anymore it’s about story. it’s not about story anymore it’s about content. it’s not about content it’s about context.

and thought I would draft a post to go into more detail. One of the things that really gets my goat working in social media is how often people try to make it some mystical thing. Whether it’s a social media ‘expert’ trying to make it seem harder than it is or whether it’s a marketing manager who is afraid of it.

The reality is that social media is no different from anything you’ve been doing as a marketing or communications professional. (I know I’ve said this before but it warrants repeating)

Know this – if you’re social media campaign feels like an itchy coat that doesn’t quite fit your brand and leaves you scratching at your arm like a junky it’s probably a bad idea. Social media should be the comfy cardigan you stole from your ex boyfriend in the 90’s – something cooler than you probably are but that fits comfortably and goes with everything you normally wear.

I present a brief history of social media strategy as evidence:

1. in the beginning (like 2007ish) it was about getting buzz and acquiring legions of friends fans and followers

2. WHOOOPS it’s not about mass following and buzz but QUALITY friends, fans and followers! Damn!!! we’ve got a million followers but they aren’t our target audience, whatever will we do?

3. 1:1 (2009ish) – let’s build deep, meaningful relationships with our constituents, let’s pretend we’re having afternoon tea and crumpets and ask them how many tampons they use every month to hone our marketing and drive more engagement which will surely lead to more sales, right?

4. PUT A HASHTAG ON IT! (2011ish) – let’s link all of our new friends conversations with unique hashtags that highlight how cool we are. Now anyone can join the conversation and we’ll even tag our TV spots and print ads with it so we have what is called….INTEGRATED MARKETING! (yay)

5. STORYTELLING (2012) – Social media is not about reaching a mass audience, nor is it about developing intimate relationships with our consumers but rather about telling an inspiring cohesive story across our channels both traditional and social. Oh and mobile mobile mobile, video video video and #instagram it.

6. CONTENT (now) – I am no longer a social media expert, I am a content specialist.

wait a minute — isn’t that the same thing that our creative/copy/brand teams have been doing since the days of Don Draper and Darrin Stephens? I specifically recall an episode of Bewitched where Darrin talked about creating incredible content for Ajax and making it accessible to all of their target audiences through an integrated approach both in-store and in advertising or something .

The moral of the story folks is that ‘it’ is not about something new but rather something tried and true. The tools might get sexier and way more star treky but the concepts are the same. The brand messages may get shorter but the strategy and communications purpose remains true as ever — sell more things, get more donations, provide better service.

These guys lay it out perfectly (and in a tone that expresses my frustration) – Faith No More ‘Epic’, lyrics posted after the jump.

In closing – should you find yourself stuck with an itchy coat or not sure how to turn your tried and true marketing into a social media program, give me a ring.

Lyrics:

Can you feel it ,see it, hear it today?
If you can’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway
You will never understand it ’cause it happens too fast
And it feels so good, it’s like walking on glass
It’s so cool, it’s so hip, it’s alright
It’s so groovy, it’s outta sight
You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet
But it makes no difference ’cause it knocks you off your feet
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s cryin’, bleedin’, lying on the floor
So you lay down on it and you do it some more
You’ve got to share it, so you dare it
Then you bare it and you tear it
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it
It’s alive, afraid, a lie, a sin
It’s magit, it’s tragic, it’s a loss, it’s a win
It’s dark, it’s moist, it’s a bitter pain
It’s sad it happened and it’s a shame
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it
What is it?
It’s it
What is it?…

Content Marketing: Not So New

As I read all these blogs and articles about how ‘Content is King’ and ‘Brands must be Content Creators’ I am baffled that the authors find this so ground breaking. Brands have been creating content since the beginning of brands.

The only things that change are the medium by which the stories get told. Instead of 3 page advetorials in newspapers or pamphlets or branded farmers almanacs it’s now mobile apps and branded video games.

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Check out these vintage recipe pamphlets each created by a popular food brand like Jell-O, Pillsbury and even Dove soap (featuring the great Julia Child).

At the height of radio people would gather around their large console radio and tune into shows like the Lone Ranger, Guiding Light and a myriad of comedy hours. All brought to you by brands like Dreft, Super Suds, Borax and more.

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And now, 75 years later we marketers think we’re doing some majorly innovative thing by turning brands into creators. Not to sound like a broken phonograph but I’ve been saying for years that there is nothing new about social media and relationship or content marketing.

Perhaps we should instead look to the past to inform our present and lay the groundwork for our future. Stop being so focused on who is the most innovative and rather focus on who is the most productive — who makes the next “Soap Opera”. Soaps are called that because they were sponsored by Soap brands after-all; mini operatic radio dramas aimed at house wives to get them to become loyal to this soap or the other. If you liked Guiding Light you’d be a Tide woman; All My Children and you were more likely to align with Dreft. Having worked on similar brands recently I can tell you the mentality is still there as evidenced in our Mommy blogger programs and TV companion apps during daytime television.

As they say, there are no new ideas…so read up on your brand history, get grounded in the past to propel you to a more successful content filled future!

Great report on Facebook Post Effectiveness

I woke up this morning to a wonderful study in my in-box. VITRUE has released a report on Facebook post effectiveness for the CPG and QSR sectors. Having made the switch from the non-profit to the corporate sector this year, it has been fun testing and learning the most effective methods for communicating with our target audience in the social space.

Luckily, the report supports the best practices we present to our clients. While most of it seems like common sense to us “expert” social media types it’s refreshing to have data to support it. Clients love a good third-party graph to make them feel better about the mysterious world of social.

While this report is great for understanding scheduling posts it doesn’t quite get into the content. So we know WHEN to post but do you know WHAT to post. And furthermore WHO should be posting and what is the tone and voice that the post should have?

Wow, down to the last sip of coffee and we have more questions than when we began.

I have a fantastic formula that we use to help make sure brands are avoiding marketing speak and providing content that is engaging and interactive for their online guests and consumers. Furthermore we work with each of our clients to experience the kind of paradigm shift that us Non-Profit types went through over 2 years ago.

That is the shift from talking TO our audience to talking WITH our audience. This requires a lot of hard and uncomfortable work. It requires us to loosen our brand stringency, to be open to talking about topics important to our consumer but not necessarily on brand. I can’t wait for a report to come out that shows effectiveness of Facebook post content….perhaps I’ll start one myself using my clients as the case-study.

I’ll be posting our formula for success in social communications very soon, in the meantime click below to check out this latest report and enjoy your morning!

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Oscar let’s the girl’s have it!

I  realized I had not written in a bit so sat down to write a new blog post. I wanted to write something official and professional about Social Media and Communications and experiential marketing. But I am so filled with joy and cheese-ball optimism that I have to just go there.

Last night was the super bowl for us girls, OSCAR NIGHT. And in true form I sat and cheered, jeered and teared right along with the plasticine Hollywood types. And as I can in most things, I found immense inspiration in the ceremonies.

Let’s get the snark out of the way–the fashion was sub-par. Dresses looked like cupcakes and everyone seemed like they forgot their hairspray or smoothing serum. I was hard pressed to find a dress that brought gasps of awe, but rather was reduced to gulps of awe-ful.

But the underwhelmed feeling inspired by the Oscar night fashion was replaced by the triumph of the winners. Perhaps this year’s awards resonated more deeply with me because of where I’m at in life. I mean I am walking a figurative red carpet to a new career, a new home (with tiole wallpaper) and new opportunities to show my stuff.

I feel like I won something with my recent offer to work for a stellar interactive agency with a philosophy that so closely mirrors mine. Starting Monday March 15th, I will be Social Media Strategist for Studiocom – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I might be a bit intimidated by the killer client list but not one to shy away from an adventure, I am anxious to see what I can bring to these incredible brands and how together, we will create super awesome customer experiences.

O.k. so back to the real stars—I have long been a fan of Sandra Bullock–cheesy, maybe but here is a chick that writes her own rule book, doesn’t take herself too seriously yet takes her work and her service to the world extremely seriously. She married my boyfriend and is a true southern G.r.i.t.s. (Girl raised in the south). I was rooting for her and for an equally deserving and dynamic chick, Mo’nique. And lo & behold, they both won.

That’s Sandy on the bottom left in a production of Peter Pan at East Carolina University with my friend Katherine Peyton Wallace

As if that triumph was not enough an incredible story came at the end–well worth staying up late for when Katherine Bigelow and her low-budget yet super powerful film “The Hurt Locker” kicked the crap out of James Cameron and his massive “Avatar” winning both director and best picture categories!

The implications of these wins are major in so many ways. As affirmations for women film makers (1st female to win best director); inspiration for independent film makers; proof of life after divorce etc etc etc. The overwhelming message from this years Oscars: talent and hard work CAN be rewarded!

Perhaps I am even more connected to this year’s ceremony because I got to watch it with thousands of friends from all over the world. For the first time ever, I was part of live commentary through my beloved Twitterverse. I was able to talk smack and rejoice in triumphs with people who I have never met yet shared the experience with me. (Shout out to @EveSimon, @Buttercupd, @Baratunde & all my other tweeps).

It was further proof that the social web is enhancing every aspect of our lives. These channels heighten our involvement in events, media and brands. How many of us actually felt our commentary on Charlize Theron’s dress was as funny and well received as those TV hosts? We were more engaged than ever and mainstream media came to our hashtag for predictions and quips.

It is this connection, the enhanced experience that makes me love the role I get to play in Social Media. That gets me excited and pumped up about the possibility to create real social change and break down the barriers between causes and brands and truly create a voice for the consumer and activist.

This brings me back to my exciting new position and my journey back to Atlanta. I hope you like what I wear down the red carpet, it will be something comfy and my limo will be a 14foot Uhaul towing a Toyota Matrix—but if this year’s Academy Awards are any indication; this low-budget, Girl Powered juggernaut will triumph!

(had to do it)

#MayoRagan09 conference

I have just had an amazing two days hanging out with healthcare communicators at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. I was so honored to be asked to speak at this conference on how I have used Social Media at Operation Smile. I have learned a ton and met some really great folks . Shout out to the awesome Lee Aase and Shel Holtz who I was lucky enough to share a panel with. Great stuff guys!

I was excited to get a few laughs and tweets about the presentation, here is a copy of my slide show: