Not every tool creates buzz

This is the first of two posts by Richard Gordon, manager, IT Communication Group, about using the social media tools that best meet your goals for audience interaction: to inform, to create conversation, to build community. He actually wrote RPGII programs for IBM S/32 and S/34 systems in the late 1970s.

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I like to think that I’m the campus social sexagenarian, but most of the younger folks I work with would say I’m the #UDel social media curmudgeon. I confess that I keyed my first computer program at a card punch—card by card….

Times have changed, that’s for sure.

But some things have stayed the same—for example, people’s swooning over the latest technology—whether it was that 1977 upgrade from the IBM S/32 computer to the new IBM S/34 system (with those new-fangled terminal things!), the latest Samsung or Apple tablet, or the latest social media startup.

A social media app might be new and shiny, you might read about it at SlashDot or on an email list, but will it help you accomplish your goals?

Bosses walk into meetings saying things like, “We need a twitter,” or “Can you get me a reddit?” or, as The Pointy-Haired Manager told Tina the Tech Writer, “I’m starting my own blog…. I need you to write the first one by noon today.” (Scott Adams, DilbertApril 26, 2007.)

You don’t have to use Pinterest, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, Yelp, Yammer, Qype, Second Life, LinkedIn, Flickr, Flixster, Bebo, delicio.us, Digg, Diigo, Instagram, Storify, Rebel Mouse, SnapChat, Last.fm, Myspace, Renren, Reddit, Squidoo, waggl.it, and—unless you plan to recruit in South Korea—Cyworld and Friendster.

Take a step back and figure out

  • who you want to reach,
  • what you want your audience to do, then
  • which social media tools match what you want to accomplish.

Audience interaction

Developing a social media strategy begins by looking at your audience: not just who they are, but what you want them to do. We’ll talk more about this in a future post; for now, let me send you to UD’s Social Media Content Creation Checklist for some of the audience-related things you should think about as you create a social media plan.

Buzz buzz buzz…

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Twitter feeds like @UDBlueHens are all about generating buzz—increasing the number of ways people are talking about our Blue Hen teams.

Athletics uses social media to lead people to the Athletics website, the ticket office, and to online events for fans to interact with athletes, coaches, and former UD athletes.

The whole idea is to increase interest, creating positive buzz about UD and UD Athletics. That buzz has a strong indirect link to sales of tickets and merchandise and even to positive reactions from alumni donors and prospective students.

Ripped from the headlines: McFaul tweets a direct back channel

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Here’s an example of “tweeting-for-buzz” to reach individuals directly. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia has been using twitter and blogs to bypass state-controlled press hostile to most things American:

For Ambassador Michael McFaul, the unfiltered communication offered by social media means he can tweet U.S. policy, blog it and post it on Facebook, an alternative to the mostly hostile traditional media here.

While Russian Internet use is widespread, the majority of people still get their news from television, so McFaul is unlikely to win the nation’s hearts and minds tweet by tweet. But his use of social media gets him buzz — and a direct line to a new audience. (Kathy Lally, U.S. ambassador in Moscow uses social media to bypass official lineWashington Post, January 11, 2014)

McFaul knows that there’s not a direct correlation between his tweets and market share—he won’t win a “ratings” battle with state-controlled news media. But each tweet generates conversation, not just between tweeters, but also between ordinary Russians who’ve heard about his tweeting.

In a future post, I’ll have some other comments about integrating social media into your communication plan and some other social media feeds for you to think about.

By Richard Gordon (@Mandorichard)