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Media Temple Helps Participants Build Sustainable Strategies, Brick by Brick

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Evan Weiner of Media Temple on the fundamental social tactics helping brands win.

It felt apt, given their name, that Evan Weiner of Media Temple would take such a foundational approach to helping attendees build sustainable social media strategy. In his talk, informed by years on lean or solo teams doing social across a number of industries, he aimed to slow down the “controlled chaos” that can often be working in social. “Props for being here, and for managing a social function in general!” he shared, acknowledging the breakneck pace and dizzying number of options that create that frenzied feeling.

When slowing down that chaos, however, social media managers and strategists are able to fully embrace the benefits of outreach: amplification potential, expert content and added value, and social savvy and goodwill.

Amplification Potential

Weiner outlined four evergreen options that, when incorporated into your social strategy, will endear you to customers and stakeholders. Of them, organic outreach and user-generated content have the most interesting potential for amplification. Organic outreach, or measures like reaching out to influencers (think “cold calls,” but with mechanisms like Tweets and Instagram DMs) and sharing their responses via your channels, generate buzz that those influencers or users will want to share with their friends. The same can be true of user-generated content, as those followers jump at the opportunity to share their perspective and experience on a larger scale.

The type of outreach that these sorts of projects require, Weiner shared, “are long-tail efforts, and they leverage a wide net.” Crafting engagement opportunities for users, and reaching out to influencers in an approachable way, will take time – because building real relationships takes time. But that time will pay off when done well, he reassured the crowd.

Expert Content and Added Value

Another benefit of doing organic outreach to experts can be the value they add to your feed and perspective they share about your brand. Weiner shared the example of a vegan brand who reached out to a food blogger asking about the misconceptions around veganism. The outreach included an understanding of her content, as well as a compliment about something she had recently shared. The response she received was appreciative, heartfelt…and useful content the brand could in turn share with their customers.

Similarly, another means to drive engagement – community rewards – can yield similar expertise and added value. For example, asking for thoughts on a product your company is featuring (like a flash drive or a stylus), only to surprise select commenters with a free item, often resulted in posts of appreciation and product review…which the company could then share with their audience. Surprise and delight, directed either toward stakeholders or influencers, can have a tremendously positive effect on a brand’s standing. And if it feels like bribery, Weiner insists that it shouldn’t: “there’s no shame in incentivizing your community with prizing and gifts.”

Social Savvy and Goodwill

At one point during Weiner’s time at Newegg, the main brand engagement Twitter account was bringing in more business than the deal and discount specific account. How did that happen? Weiner shared that customer outreach and response was paired with deals, customer affinity went up and so did purchasing behavior. He calls this blending the funnel, or acknowledging that customers can be approached in strategic ways to at once build brand awareness and drive revenue.

This blending of strategies can also be seen when developing user-generated content. Approaching followers in a way that acknowledges their role not just as customers, but also as humans who use a product or service, generates goodwill and trust that can impact purchasing behavior. Weiner referred to this as moving from “selfish” to “selfless” content. Social media users and followers are increasingly moving toward “selfless” brand content, and companies who understand that shift will have considerable success when catering to it in earnest.

As you may have guessed, Weiner believes that each of the four strategies has the potential to work with others synergistically. Community rewards can yield user-generated content. Blending the funnel can happen from multiple points of organic outreach. And any number of other permutations that combine these methods, create a strong foundation that a social team of any size can take advantage of. The general utility of these strategies is what excited Weiner so much about sharing them. “Ultimately, that’s why you come to Social Media Week,” he said. “We have a variety of options and technology we can use. But what it comes down to is that there are key foundational tactics that brands small and large can benefit from- sometimes in equal ways.”

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