There are a lot of blogs on social marketing, social media and word of mouth today and like bellybuttons, everyone has an opinion.
Here is the thing that has bugged me for nearly the last two years (yes, that is a long time to be perturbed by anything unless you are Lewis Black).
Are you ready?
Many of the published approaches and opinions on social today are clinical or theoretical. They don’t take into account the realities of everyday business. In other words, what happens when the ever present ‘pivot’ is required or the budget for the more complete and elegant program strategy is clawed back by management or a re-org occurs and all your senior stakeholders have vanished.
As I sit here writing this post, I am reminded of a statement I recently heard, “a plan is something you throw out when you are down by 14 at the end of the first quarter.” Since we are in the midst of pre-Super Bowl hype,let’s go with the analogy. My point here is that plans, like social programs and strategies should be fluid. They are full of audibles and broken plays. Sometimes it is the simple shovel pass that wasn’t even a play option that gets the first down.
With this in mind I introduce to you WOMMA TV. As WOMMA TV’s host, I promise you a no-holds barred and in-depth peek (or as in-depth that 15 minutes will allow) peek into the real world of doing social well. We are going to leave the charts, process flows and social theory to others. For those of you who know me, you know I love charts as much as the next geek but that isn’t the purpose of WOMMA TV. Instead, WOMMA TV will be more ‘reality tv’ than produced sitcom.
WOMMA TV’s pilot is in the can and the first episode is in less than two weeks. You’ll find it the end of the first week of each month at WOMMA’s website, as well as, here. It will also be promoted on Twitter. You’ll find it on YouTube and a variety of other places. Just search ‘WOMMA TV’.
Each month, just prior to the show, I will publish a post with the upcoming topic and a peek behind the scenes of the upcoming episode.
It’s my hope that you’ll add WOMMA TV to your list of your ‘must consume’ monthly content on social.
Upon reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t have second guessed the significance of our encyclopedic announcement revealing the end of the publication’s iconic print set and the company’s pursuit of all things digital.
But I did.
True, everyone involved was passionate about our story. We believed in it. We prepared for it. Still, I worried (I’m a bit like Woody Allen that way). Will people care? Will they understand its significance and why it truly matters?
Turns out they did–beyond our wildest expectations. Breaking news from the front page of the most influential of newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Financial Times), the global news wires, and national and international news programs were liked, tweeted and commented on around the world. We were number one with a bullet on Google and Twitter. Stories popped up where least expected—on iPad apps, in elevator screens, even after an oh-so-fascinating conversation about Kathy Lee’s new hairdo on The Today Show. I knew we were part of the zeitgeist upon seeing us featured on the RidicuList segment of Anderson Cooper 360 and becoming the answer to a question on “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” I chuckled at the resulting banter:
“If you don’t understand why it’s a big deal that we’ll no longer be able to buy a whole shelf of leather-bound encyclopedias for more than a thousand dollars a set, go find your parents and ask them to ask their parents to find an Ouija board to commune with their grandparents, and they’ll tell you.”
While it’s true that this story was 244 years in the making, nostalgia for the iconic brand is only one reason why it has become one of the most talked about topics around the world. While I’m sure this list will grow as the news becomes a day eight, nine and 10 story (it’s like the Energizer bunny in that it keeps going and going), success secrets certainly would include:
· Be prepared—be very prepared. Telling a compelling story requires more than a press release. First and foremost, compelling messages must be developed that are accepted and internalized by anyone who communicates with customers, the media, analysts and influencers. Once in hand, these messages serve as the foundation for all of the assets developed to tell and share a story. Britannica did this quite well, as you can see from the videos, blogs, infographics and social assets leveraged for our announcement.
· Relentlessly tell the story you want to tell. Time and time again, the influencers we spoke with wanted us to express sadness for the end of the print set. We wouldn’t go there, no matter how hard they tried. Rather, we were passionate about using this milestone to effectively communicate that Britannica today is a very different company—it’s digital, mobile and social—and its reach and relevancy today is undeniable. In fact, our announcement is something to celebrate.
· Make time for the influencers. Critical to our success was the strategy to arrange one-on-one briefings with the people that ultimately shape what we talk and tweet about. We were quite successful in lining up nonstop meetings on the days prior to our announcement, yet ultimately it was up to Britannica’s president, Jorge Cauz, to bring it home for us. And bring it home he did by knocking it out of the park every time.
· Then, make time for everyone else. Once the news broke, the requests for interviews were fast and furious. And, we were ready. We kept at it, in fact, until the wee hours of the night, for three straight days. And we delivered responses to questions such as, “How much does a complete set weigh?” like it was the first time they were asked (129 pounds—more than my colleague Pam weighs, incidentally).
· Don’t take yourself too seriously. News like this takes on a life of its own as reporters and bloggers look for new ways to tell the story. Embracing the process and having fun will keep the news engine running—even when you are running on empty.
What did you think of Britannica’s announcement? Who knows, we might be able to share your story.