What’s the secret to coming up with a social media strategy that really works?
A few months back we shared our Tweety Pie Formula for developing an effective Twitter strategy.
The three step Tweety Pie Formula is:
- Test Your Strategy
- Tweak Your Strategy (Based on the feedback from your test)
- Go back to step 1.
You can read more about the Tweety Pie formula here. Although we called it a Tweety Pie strategy (as a pun on Twitter), the process can be applied to all social networks: Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, and so on.
It’s a great process for discovering what works on social media at engaging your audience and getting your brand out there. Having an agile strategy that’s always in development is the only way to keep up with the constant changes in technology when it comes to social media.
That said, the Tweety Pie Formula has two key flaws:
- Strategy creation. How do you come up with a social media strategy in the first place? Where do you get ideas from? How do you know if your idea is a good one?
- Strategy tweaking. Where do you get ideas from to tweak your strategy? This is especially the case if your strategy requires more of a “back to the drawing board” rethink than a few subtle tweaks.
So how can you come up with an effective and unique strategy? There are a few different ways. Here are two that are relatively common. They’re good, but not the best.
You can sit at your desk and think. There’s a lot to be said for this, and many people in today’s world don’t spend enough time reflecting. Time to think is vital for creativity to blossom. However, sitting and thinking is time consuming, and aside from your own best guess there’s no way of knowing whether your ideas are any good. Of course you can test your ideas, but wouldn’t it be better to start with ideas that you know have a good chance of succeeding?
You can read social media blogs. Just like you’re doing now! As with sitting down to think, this is a great way of coming with social media strategies. By reading about what works, you’ll have a good idea of where to start with your social media campaigns. But if you only take your ideas from what other people have written, your social media strategy will look just like everyone else’s. You’re only doing the tried and tested. You have no way of standing out from the crowd.
Thinking and reading blogs are both good ways of coming up with social media strategies. But what you come up with might not work, and it’s unlikely to be unique. There is another way.
What is this way?
We’ll take our first clue from an astronomer, Carl Sagan, whose pithy advice extended to baking. Sagan said:
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
In other words, it’s impossible to make an apple pie “from scratch”. To bake an apple pie, you need apples, flour, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and so on. To get these ingredients, you need a store. A store gets them from suppliers, who get them from farmers, who create their produce from the land. The land itself is part of the earth, which is part of the solar system, which is part of the universe.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to invent the universe from scratch anytime soon.
As with apple pies, you can’t create a social media strategy “from scratch”. However you come up with your strategy, you’ve got to use certain ingredients. You can’t tweet without a computer, an internet connection, and a Twitter account.
Already, you’re starting to mix up ingredients to make a tasty social media pie. Chances are, if you’re using a good set of ingredients, you’re already doing enough to be successful. But you’re pretty much like all other brands out there. You’re doing the same things everyone else does. Your pie tastes just like theirs.
What ingredients can you add to make your pie extra special?
Occasionally, if you’re very lucky, you’ll come up with an original idea for your social media strategy that will smash your engagement out of the park.
But even if your idea looks original to you, you didn’t create it from scratch. You need a ton of already-existing ingredients to make it happen. And coming up with unique ideas using your mind-power alone is always going to be time consuming.
So, what can you do to really get ahead, the lazy way?
Let’s take another quote, this time from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.’”
That’s right. Our advice for creating an unique social media strategy is to be a copycat.
Let’s say you sell sports shoes. We’re not saying you should head over to Nike’s Twitter feed and share the exact same tweets they do.
What we are saying is you should be keeping a close eye on the Twitter feeds of all your competitors, and of successful brands outside your niche. When you see them do something that’s getting them attention, or that’s not quite working but that you think has potential with just a few tweaks, incorporate that approach into your social media strategy.
The uniqueness of your strategy won’t come from having an original idea. Instead, it will come from the way you combine the ingredients you’ve picked from all over the place into your own tasty pie.
Remember – it’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to. And it’s how you mix them together to create something unique.
Here’s an overview of the copycat’s social media strategy:
- Pay attention to what others in your niche are doing on social media.
- Also keep in the loop about what brands outside your niche are doing on social media.
- When you see a big success, or an idea that grabs your attention, note it down.
- Think about how you can incorporate that idea into your social media strategy.
- Ask yourself: how can I do this better? Take the ideas you’ve found, and add your own unique twist.
No more backing apple pies from scratch, which is an impossible task in any case.
A final word of warning. While it’s totally okay to model your social media strategy on what others are doing, it’s not okay to do anything that breaks copyright laws. Don’t steal content or images from others. It’s not clever or cool.
Now, go find some taste ingredients, and get baking!