AgencySpy’s Secret to Social Media

By Matt Van Hoven 

I got an email earlier asking me if I agreed with some cockamamie social media strategy. Part of it went like this:

“…our belief is that there is no problem combining brand messages with our personal spaces, as long as sensitivity and care are used.”

My response grew into an idea that I talk about from time to time. Do you agree or disagree? Answer below:

Sort of &#151 success in social media is hard to define and even harder to attain. That’s because the brands that do it best express a certain air of humanity. For example, @aplusk. With the AgencySpy brand on Twitter, it’s basically just me. I don’t try to be likable &#151 I just say whatever I would normally say and deal with the consequences later. Not every brand can do that, but in an age where bad press is the only legitimate kind, it makes sense to stumble and fall.

Think of it this way &#151 most of the world’s greatest, most helpful inventions (electricity, penicillin, rubber) were created by accident. Indeed, some people believe the world itself was created by accident. So, although a brand may try to strategize and fit their message into the preformed media channels that have pervaded/bombarded consumers with commercial messaging over the last 50 years, they can’t plan when it comes to social media.

That’s due to a number of things &#151 the most important of which is human nature. We can tell when someone is being disingenuous. Another factor &#151 social media requires an almost never ending stream of thought, which is most effective when one person is behind it. If a camel is a horse designed by committee, a bad social media strategy is one that uses the boots-on-the-ground-input/voice of more than one person. Sure, creating the strategy can be done by more than one person, but to get that real human feeling, you need one consistent voice, everyday. Read: don’t be safe, be human.

At least &#151 that’s how we’ve grown our social media following. We don’t do gimmicks, we just inform and entertain and act like ourselves. That’s the secret.

I’m not a strategist. My job is to inform you, and with Twitter I broaden that to inform/entertain because no one wants to read advertising news all day. But at the same time it is my job to strengthen the AgencySpy brand, to solidify in your minds that we have something that no one else does. You know better than I do what that is, because you control how we’re defined in your eyes. In that way, I am a strategist &#151 but one that’s very hands off. The only strategy is to keep chugging along, interacting, reporting, typing.

Don’t believe that it’s working? Just over a year ago we had 150 followers on Twitter. Today that’s near 9,000. Who knows how many of those are bots or accounts that never get used. Fine. But considering AdAge has 35,000 and AdWeek has 12,000 I think we’re doing OK.

Now, you might not think that’s important, and I’d agree that it probably isn’t a big deal. But what it does suggest is that in the Twitter space, we’re 1/5 as relevant as AdAge and 3/4ths as relevant as AdWeek &#151 and all I did to make that happen was share interesting links. Cost: $0.

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