3 Lessons from The Social Media Olympics

Twitter and other social media channels that were relatively new during the previous Olympics have gone mainstream over the past four years, thereby making the big stage of the 2012 Olympics invaluable for learning how to use social media well.

Four years ago many of us were just experimenting with this thing called Twitter. We found it to be a cool way to connect with like-minded people and make new friends, while also wondering how we could use it to for practical business purposes.

Consider that there were no real celebrities on Twitter during the previous Olympics. None. Now they dominate the upper echelon of influential power users. That alone is indicative of the evolution of social media for building a brand.

Twitter was a neat little playground for early adopters just four years ago. Now it is a valid media tool, and with media exposure comes responsibility.

This holds true for celebrities and mainstream businesses alike.

#1 – You Make Your Own Rules

You will often hear media experts suggest that you should be yourself when using social media. That’s not a good idea if taken literally.

Athletes are businesses, and fans and sponsors are their customers. More than one Olympian proved that showing the world who you really are will cost you fans and potential sponsors. Everyone has the right to speak their mind, but when you do you have to accept the consequences.

Making your own rules means respecting your audience – your customers. This is why most of us find it is wise to apply a few light filters that consider our core values and business objectives.

The days of spinning your message after the fact simply doesn’t work anymore. Your audience is now media savvy and will collectively discredit anything that smells fishy.

One quality of social media is it works the same for all of us – athletes, businesses, celebrities, and even fans. The only difference is celebrities still have a better chance of having their message amplified.

You can do the same by being controversial, but that too is a hallmark of the early days of new media. It’s usually best to take the high road.

In fact, that may be especially true for those who command a larger following.

#2 – Applaud the Home Team

While you will still notice plenty of people, brands, and businesses using social media to blow their own horns, many of us are finding there is a better way to earn attention.

The young United States gymnastics team clearly had some media training. After winning the team gold medal, all of them commented to Bob Costas on national television that they were proud to represent their team and their country.

Michael Phelps did the essentially same thing when the United States men won the 400 m relay. He applauded the team, even though he had individually made history by winning his 19th medal. That’s smart.

Applaud the home team. If you are a business, your home teams are the communities you serve.

You need each other to succeed.

#3 – You Are the Message

Media agencies may work well for corporations and large enterprises, but for athletes, small businesses, and even celebrities, we know if that is really you behind that Twitter handle.

Just as important as the message is how it is delivered. It’s easy to hire others to create content and automate your messaging, but that removes the most essential component for achieving success with social media – you.

You are the message.

Your personal qualities and presence are essential to the message. Why do you think political leaders and CEO’s eagerly take to the podium?

They are the leaders, and nobody can or should speak for them. This respects the communities they serve.

This best practice is listed last for emphasis, but in reality you should make it your number one rule to follow.

What media lessons have you learned from the 2012 Olympics?

What rules do guide your social media messaging? 

Leave a comment below and please share this with your community.  

 Photo Credit: London Olympics

2012 Social Media Predictions for Mainstream Small Business

The maturation of the social networking channels may well prove to be the tipping point for attracting a majority of mainstream small businesses who have yet to jump into this pond.

One can understand the reluctance, especially as the noise level on the social networks continues to approach the breaking point.

#1 – The Quality of Online Content will Rise to Meet Expectations

When markets get cluttered – quality stands tall.

The predominant trend this year is that the quality of online content will rise to meet the higher standards of both consumers and search, and it is going to express itself in several different ways.

People now demand more – and that is what Google wants from you as a business marketer.

The launch of Google+ this past summer provided a wake-up call for other social media channels – and it deserves your attention too.

Google+ provides a flexible interface with generous control over the quality of your content. The combination of that with personal customer support effectively forced Facebook and Twitter to step up their game.

In Google+ you can edit what you publish, share it selectively or publicly, and accompany it with nice multi-media content. This clearly contributed to the introduction of Facebook timeline – the new format that better orders your content, while also creating a cover banner for one large, high quality image.

Social networking helped businesses get used to working with these new channels. Now the emphasis is quickly moving from pure networking to a higher level of publishing – making your small business a media company.

Of course, the role of a publisher and broadcaster brings new responsibilities.

The smartest thing now is to strategically plan for how this can work for your business. What are the steps to take now to be well-positioned 3, 5, and 10 years ahead?

You should first consider the educational information your community is hungry for, as well as what they will appreciate in terms of inspiration and entertainment.

After all, it is still social media, so it should be engaging. The only difference is expectations are moving to a higher level.

Just envision yourself as a great filmmaker, television producer, author, or speaker, and you will be on the right path.

#2 – There Will be an Explosion of Quality Photos and Videos

You can now capture nice images with a relatively new camera phone. And you can take outstanding photos with a $600 – $700 camera. So, the task at hand is capturing more photos that educate, entertain, and inspire your communities.

By now you should have a pretty good idea from Facebook and YouTube as to what type of photos and videos are the most engaging. Go back and check some of your YouTube statistics – you may be surprised.

Use your social media analytics to learn more about what your audience most wants – and give it to them.

Google+ and now the Facebook Timeline position photos and videos prominently. Use them well to attract attention, capture a moment, and tell a story.

Incidentally, if you are still undecided about what is the right photo to profile on that huge banner known as the Facebook Timeline Cover, here’s a tip.

We’ve all seen plenty of sunrises and sunsets – both real and digitally enhanced. So, if you really want to engage your friends and fans, understand that people are most interested in people.

#3 – 2012 Will be a Breakout Year for QR Codes

For some time now, we’ve been hearing that the QR code is dead. I’m not buying it.

In fact, I’ve learned that when the masses begin to gather into a herd, the next thing is a stampede – in the wrong direction.

In situations like this, you have to do your own thinking, and sometimes that means being wrong to be right.

It’s undeniable that QR codes are popping up everywhere. It’s also true that many of the applications are poorly planned and executed. This is the opportunity!  

The problem isn’t the QR code, it’s the lack of education and planning for using them well.

Despite what was published in AdAge this week, I predict 2012 will be the year in which businesses start doing QR right.

There is no question the interest is there. The reason for the tepid response is due to the fact that marketers are not taking the time to think this through – and do it well.

Last year I wrote an article – How QR codes Can Grow Your Business. It was first published at Social Media Examiner – one of the top business blogs in the world.  And it proved to be the #3 article in their Top 20 Most Popular Articles for 2011.

This is telling us the interest is out there. What is needed next is leadership.

Start with the aforementioned article. The follow up to that one is 5 Best Practices for a Successful QR Code Campaign.  It includes commentary form experts around the world, as well as links to quite a few related articles.

If you still reluctant to invest the time to create quality content, here is my promise.

Take the time to create quality digital content and you will discover more time in your business, because you will begin to attract the customers that have thus far been alluding you.

When you consistently create quality online content, you get better at it.

And as it begins to accumulate, it starts to work while you are not.

What could be more encouraging than that?

Leave a comment below or share this with your community with any of the share buttons below – or with those on the little red bar at the bottom of this page.  

Until next time,  Jeff

Photo Credit: Danilo Rizzuti

Forget Goals – Plan for Being Happy in 2012

Do you really want to accomplish all of those goals you’ve lined up for this year? Honestly? Or would you rather just be happy? One of the problems with personal goal setting – as with business planning and budgeting, is the tendency to extrapolate from what was achieved the previous year to reach for a […]

Read the full article

The Best of Jeff Korhan 2011

2011 proved to be a positive year for small business marketers – one in which social media and other forms of online marketing moved further into the mainstream. Smart business marketers have begun to realize that social is not just a layer to add to their marketing, but an essential component that has to be […]

Read the full article