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Are You the Main Event, or Behind the Scenes?

May 4, 2013

I want to do this blog post on the challenges to overcome with having too many social networking channels to communicate your message, and how to better organize thoughts and processes when deciding which outlets are best for you and your brand/product. Before starting my class this semester (Managing Online Public Relations), I was already pretty comfortable using various social networking platforms. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2006 and I started Twitter about a year later; I’ve generally been on the front end of emerging social media outlets. However, I feel like the past two years have shown a huge increase in start-ups trying to outdo what Facebook and Twitter have so beautifully accomplished. For instance, Myspace tried to recreate itself, to no avail. Google+ seems to be slowly catching on, but I think it’s an afterthought, not a primary resource for social networking. I have a Google+ account by default since I use their email, but I don’t use the “plus” features simply because absolutely no one I know uses Google+, and especially not any of my social interests like music and sports. I really don’t see it going anywhere- I equate it to Lync on Microsoft Outlook. If everyone you are affiliated with is on it, then you use it. But I only use Lync professionally, and save the other stuff for my personal life. So… Yeah.

Well, this is where other successful platforms enter the scene: Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Pinterest of course, fulfills my more ambitious self: the one who thinks she’s incredibly crafty, but generally fails miserably in her attempts (Unless it’s baking. I’m pretty fantastic at baking).

YouTube is what I term the “catch-all” for my interests and fanaticism: I will recall an amazing hockey play from a recently watched game and search for it on YouTube. Two hours later, I’m watching videos of animals bouncing on trampolines and then I delve into fashion and beauty bloggers. Time is sucked away into the vortex that is YouTube which is the primary reason I rarely visit the site when I don’t have time to waste. I know I can’t resist the wonderful black hole that will suck me in for all of eternity. (It’s also a dangerous place to be when procrastination takes hold while “researching” videos for my blog posts. Note to self: Create time blocks specifically for YouTube research to stay on track…)

Instagram is sort of the lazy version of Facebook for me. “Oh hey, I can be mildly interested in what my friends are doing without actually having to put in a lot of effort. Awesome.”

But, back to my original thought, yes, I do think that it’s easy to not only become overwhelmed with all of the social media outlets in the world, but also to fail miserably when you don’t capitalize on the right platform for your business.This is why I have decided to break down social networking to what I think contains two parts: The Main Show, and Behind the Scenes.

The Main Show is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the platform you use to market yourself. The face of your brand. It is YOU, front and center. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. These platforms are the main event, the main account that you use to get your message out there. (I will discuss Vine in more detail as well in a bit).

Behind the Scenes is again, exactly what it sounds like: it’s the platform that houses the bulk of information and does the brunt of the work. These platforms include YouTube, Flickr, Imgur, and product/business/brand websites. The Main Show platform gets you interested, and the Behind the Scenes gives you what you want.

Here are some examples to illustrate:
Pinterest is a great site for craftiness and recipes. Martha Stewart and Lauren Conrad have great success using Pinterest to generate snapshots of their projects that would link back to their website for the step-by-step process, or YouTube for the video. I wonder how Martha created that amazing cake? Click on the photo and it directly links you to her website.

Instagram is the social version of Pinterest. Not only can you network with your friends and family to stay in touch, but you can follow your favorite celebrities, sports teams, and even food chains and bloggers. One of my favorite bloggers, Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere, uses Instagram to capture a daily moment, in conjunction with her daily blog posts. “Oh look, a pretty manicure. I wonder how she did that?” How convenient that she’s provided a link in the comments/description that links to her blog. You go to her blog, and bam! There’s a video (from YouTube) showing the how-to of the manicure.

Facebook Honestly, I feel a little silly explaining how Facebook can integrate all of these things into one, but I have to remember that not everyone out there is as Facebook savvy (or addicted…) as I am. I will resort to my beloved Penguins for this example. The Pittsburgh Penguins have a Facebook account. They post photos from games, of players at practice, of player updates, of sweepstakes, pretty much everything related to the organization and promoting it. They post a photo of a promotional sweepstakes to win prizes for fan appreciation week. You click on the link in the description of the photo and it takes you directly to their website that is hosting the sweepstakes. You enter to win, and go on your merry day. Again, Facebook is showing the main act, and when you click the link shown, the website is doing all the grunt work.

Last but not least…

Twitter I saved Twitter for last because well, I think it’s the best option out there for marketing to your particular market, regardless of your business venture. Because it is 140 characters or less, information is forced to be concise and streamlined, and many other sites have been created to help make that easier (I love you, bit.ly, a link shortener). Back to the Penguins example illustrated in the Facebook description: The Penguins Twitter account says, “Hey #Pens fans! We want to show you our appreciation during Fan Appreciation Week! Click here to learn how to win tickets www. Randombitlylink.com”. Look at that- 24 characters and you have your message out there. Click the link, and it can either link you to the Facebook page if the contest is there, or to the Penguins website if the contest is hosted there.

Another example that isn’t sports, hobbies or celebrities, but food… Starbucks. Starbucks is hosting a “Frappucino Happy Hour” from May 3-12 from 3-5 p.m., all Frappucinos are half off. They tweet it out, and BOOM. Instant retweetdom ensues. Note: Frappucinos are especially loved by tween-teen-agers. Who are addicted to Twitter. I think we’ve found the perfect marriage of social networking and clientele here. But yes this time, instead of clicking a link to get information, it’s all there, it’s 2:55 p.m. on May 5 and you head to your local Starbucks to get in on the action. This particular example doesn’t really encompass the behind-the-scenes-ness of the subsequent posts they have on their website, Facebook and Instagram pages, but it definitely shows the instant gratification when you have the perfect storm of product, marketing strategy, and clientele.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on Vine. I’ve not personally used Vine, but that’s because I haven’t had many opportunities to video a snapshot of something I’m doing. I recently did the Spartan Sprint, but decided to forego destroying my iPhone for a six-second promo of my struggles and conquests. For the record, I have some gnarly bruises from the race. Totally worth it. But to provide a specific example of when I think Vine can be used as a great Main Event platform: Joy the Baker (one of my favorite bakers!) might have a blog on how to make an amazing iced tea or other refreshing beverage, just in time for summer (yes, she does more than just baked goods). She creates a six second video of her blending some random things together, ending with her wearing shades, sitting on the deck with a beautiful sunset in the background, sipping the delicious looking beverage in her hand. I’m salivating just thinking about this imaginary Vine video I’ve created on behalf of Joy! See what I mean? It’s the video version of Instagram- quick snapshot to get your attention, and then bam! Takes you to the “Behind the Scenes” platform to show you the process.

Bottom line is this. Find what outlet works best for you and your brand/product/business, and capitalize on it. Figure out what your target audience will respond best to. Starbucks hit the nail on the head with their Tweet(s) for the Frappucino Happy Hour and their key demographic. They essentially took out the need for the Behind the Scenes guy and drove their customers straight to their stores (literally!)

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2 Comments
  1. catie d permalink

    Nicely written. Think you will enjoy @counternotion’s latest tweet: “If you think Facebook is a timesuck, Reddit is an eternal abyss…It’s democratic ADHD.”

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