In case you missed out on the July 2012 Parthenon Post, here is the lead article that offers great tips on how to create a winning social media plan!
Parthenon Publishing clicks with the social media crowd
If you know someone who works for Parthenon, you have undoubtedly heard the good news: we were crowned the small business champions in the Nashville Business Journal’s Social Madness competition. While we are using the word “crowned” metaphorically, we did create our own WWE-style championship belt for Facebook, so we feel the victory has officially been bestowed.
After we finished spraying champagne all over the office, we decided to assess our efforts to identify which parts of our plan were most effective. The goal of the contest was for companies to build up their social presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and garner the most votes on NBJ’s website. Obviously, we concentrated heavily on that piece, but we also used this contest as an opportunity to focus on our long-term goals for Parthenon’s social media.
While we wanted to win the contest, we also wanted to attract users who will continue to enjoy and engage with our content once the competition is over. To build this audience, we created content that would attract local Nashville businesses, industry frontrunners and people who share our personal interests.
We learned a lot throughout this contest, and are pleased to share the core elements of our Social Madness strategy to assist you in your social media initiatives. Some are intuitive, some are inventive, and some were just downright fun to do.
Post interesting content frequently.
- Post content multiple times each day. Facebook and Twitter feeds are crowded, so your audience likely only sees a handful of your posts. We made sure to keep these posts timely, often referencing current events to foster discussion (ex. when Donna Summer died, we posted a YouTube video of “Last Dance”).
- Schedule content to post on weekends or at night since those are the often the most high-traffic times for social media.
- If you’re stumped for content, check out what’s trending on Twitter and put your personal spin on it.
Customize your content and expand your reach.
- All networks are not created equal, so craft different posts for each medium. For Twitter, a 120-character blurb full of hashtags is effective, and you need to include a description of the content since viewers only see links. On Facebook, however, the link title and photo will automatically be displayed, so there’s no need to waste your words repeating that information.
- Once you’ve created these engaging posts, tag them. Use hashtags on Twitter or tag people, places or pages on Facebook. This will pull in views from new people who are interested in the topics you’re talking about.
- Encourage people to share with their personal networks. During the contest, we created and promoted a lot of great content that was personally interesting to us, which made it more likely to be interesting to our friends and family.
Respond quickly, with value, to any social conversation.
- Respond to comments with more than a “thank you” or a “like.” Showing people that you aren’t just responding for the sake of doing so fosters interaction and conversation.
Establish your online identity.
- Develop key messages that reflect your personality.
- We used this contest to brand ourselves as interesting and funny people with quirky personal lives and a lot of support for our fellow employees.
- We showed that we love relatable things outside of work, like cute pets, delicious recipes and fun local events.
- We established ourselves as proud Nashvillians, creating content about and sending “shout outs” to local businesses we love and admire.
- Position yourself as a knowledge leader in your field.
- We showed that we are proud to be part of the small business community and are happy to promote other small businesses that are doing things well.
- We showed that we are social platform experts and lovers of all things media.
- We let our dork flags fly, posting more technical content and industry news on LinkedIn to show that while we play hard, we also work extremely hard for our clients.
Bolster your social presence by blogging.
- Research social media tactics used in your community and implement the ones you like. We blogged about our favorite singers/songwriters, bars, coffee shops, sports teams, tourist attractions, healthcare organizations and restaurants, and in the process, we learned a lot from them.
- Profile the trendsetters. When you find someone doing it right, give them credit. By highlighting the best in our 5 to Follow series, we connected our networks with theirs and stayed ahead of emerging trends.
- Empower your staff to participate. By giving everyone the opportunity to write about things they are passionate and knowledgeable about, we incentivized everyone to share with their own networks. During the contest, our most highly trafficked blog received 75 percent more views than our best performing blog to that point, so letting people put personality and passion into their posts really paid off.
Create conversation using a contest.
- Offer an incentive for sharing your content or following your page that supports the people or places you appreciate. We featured The Melrose in several of our 5 to Follow posts, both because they are socially savvy and because they are one of our favorite local bars. By offering a $50 gift certificate to a new follower (or to a current follower who shared our content), we gained 100 new followers organically through our networks in less than a week.
- Focus your contest on the market you want to engage. When we started this contest, we decided that we wanted to build our local audience first and foremost, so we concentrated our giveaway efforts on a prize that would spark local interest.
And now it’s on to Nationals where we hope to bring the same level of Nashville-inspired social media skill to the masses. Want to come along? We think you know the drill: