So, you stare at your Twitter account, Facebook page and LinkedIn business profile and nothing happens. You send a flurry of tweets. Maybe “engage” with an “influencer” or two and then you jump over to Google Analytics to watch the conversions increase 10x. But that conversion rate actually went down.

  • If you have ever felt that more content was the answer, your social media strategy is broken.
  • If you’ve made a concerted effort to RT more people, your social media strategy is broken.
  • If you’ve ever boosted a post without adjusting targeting, your social media strategy is broken.
  • If you’ve never boosted a post, your social media strategy is broken.
  • If the only URLs that appear in your social media feeds are your own, your social media strategy is broken.

Let me clarify something at this juncture. There’s a key word I want to emphasize in all of this: strategy. Your content may be great. Your calls to action are on point and your messaging is tight. But what’s the strategy that guides you forward?

Define your voice, define your strategy

A strategy is the methodology you use to accomplish a set of goals. Tactics, plans and deliverables constitute your strategy. Your strategy is not a two-page Word document or 10 PowerPoint slides. Your strategy is a living entity that grows and evolves alongside your social media program.

The core element to a successful social media strategy is the voice of the brand. The words, images, structure, tone and humanity that bring a brand to life. Is it pithy, serious, humorous, contrite, morose, or some combination of other traits? Perfect. Own it. Be that voice.

If you don’t tell your own story, somebody else will tell it for you. You’ll be dependent on the words that others use to share your strengths and, more often than not, the way they amplify your weaknesses. The first step in any social media program that has any opportunity for success is determining how you want to tell your story.

How to win social media

If you’re worried that your social media strategy sucks, just know that it can be fixed.

So, how do you win at social media?

Commitment to excellence

We’ve established that in order to have a successful social media program, one must be inherently committed to maintaining a presence and being an active part of the communities you want to have a presence in. Social media is a long-term commitment that is governed by the precedent you set. If you start out by Tweeting 15 times a day and your team is posting 6 blog posts per week, guess what happens when you start having one tweet a day and maybe one blog post every other week: You lose your audience. You just lost at social media. In order to win, you must set a precedent and stick to it.

Be data based

Think of the audience you want to reach. What data supports your choice of that audience? Think of the calls to action you use. Have you a/b tested to make sure you’re optimizing your conversion rates? Look at your Google Analytics. Are you actively present on the sites sending you referral traffic? By making decisions on content that are based in measurable results, you can ensure the success of your social media strategy.

Be awesome and don’t suck

People share awesome. They don’t share content that is bad. Unless it’s awesomely bad, but I would encourage you not to seek out that kind of content. Go ahead and post a meme or a video. In fact, recent research shows that Facebook prefers you post a video. But you also need to tell great stories with your content. Find out what resonates with your desired audience and create content that works for that group.

Fixing your social media strategy takes work. It takes commitment. And, it takes a little bit of awesome too. Let us know what elements you think make for a great social media strategy in the comments!

We recently found out that my wife is pregnant with our second child. With that comes a fair amount of introspection, thinking about the future and what is to come. For me, this sense of adventure, this sense of wonder, was coupled with an opportunity.

That sense of adventure and that opportunity to pursue it are leading me to a new opportunity. Starting in a couple of days, I will be joining a scrappy PR agency called Voxus where I will get to work with a growing client base that is focused on emerging technologies, service providers and consumer companies. I get to work with startups again and this makes me happy. I get to help shape some amazing stories. (and, as with our first child, there’s precedent too)

I’m going to miss the friends I have made over the last 3.5 years at Waggener Edstrom. I have had some amazing opportunities to do amazing work with amazing people. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. 

I mentioned amazing experiences and opportunities. I’ve helped bring Windows 8 to the world, I’ve helped bring Microsoft Surface to the world. I’ve been a part of countless brainstorms, strategy sessions and other activities that help set the course for one of the biggest companies in the world. These experiences are what I keep this in mind whenever I had a frustrating experience or was asked to pull coverage at 4pm on a Friday or refresh that briefing doc for the 12th time. This is the best job in the world, hands down. We get to tell stories and create. We get paid to create amazing that makes people happy, elicits emotions and rewards the junior software engineer coding away on the next version of Dynamics or Office or a new database schema with their moment in the headlines.

I am thankful for the laughs, deep sighs and countless swear words exclaimed. I am thankful for the happy hours, the events, the times looking for pizza in Austin at 1am. I am thankful for the lessons and the support for me and my family. And with that, I am going to work with a small and scrappy agency that helps small and scrappy clients tell big stories. I’ll still be doing digital work (which means too much time on Twitter) and even sharing learnings and some best practices from time to time.

Away we go on a new adventure. And, if you’ve ever wanted to work with me, now’s the time. Let’s go tell some amazing stories!

Wow, was it ever time for a face lift. I went for a bit of white space and a more open feel. I’m also going to try and use the new format posts a bit and post more often. I tried to focus on short-form posts a while back, but getting into the flow of it was kind of hard, so hopefully this helps.

What other changes should I make? Does it flow OK? Should I try a different look?

Do you want to know who has influence? Celebrities. Celebrities have influence.

Such as one tweet from Ashton Kutcher generating more than 13,000 views of a YouTube video with a single tweet. Click on that link, because it contains a slight shift in the definition of “influence.” It renames it leverage. It’s not influencing a purchasing or life decision, it was just a lot of people clicking a link. Leveraging your popularity to get people to do stuff.

When rapper 50 Cent tweeted about a small cap public company that he turns out to now be a minority equity shareholder, he caused shares to jump 290% to 39 cents, boosting the company’s market capitalization to around $82 million, a jump of roughly $60 million in a single day. Monday’s volume reached almost 9 million compared the issue’s usual churn of less than 30,000.

But, when we as communications professionals define influencer (hint: it’s not this), we often think of self-anointed gurus that have labeled themselves as such and we completely forget those that have the power to shift the direction of a brand.

I wouldn’t normally name names, but let’s consider a tech reporter such as Aaron Ricadela, a tech reporter whose byline is frequently found in Businessweek and Bloomberg. If we apply the metrics such as Twitter followers or Klout score, he is not influential at all. He’s only tweeted four times and has 14 followers.

But he’s absolutely influential.

My point is, if you approach influence with a narrow perspective based solely on social media metrics, you are missing out on engaging with a ton of people that can shape the perspective of your clients or brand. And isn’t that why we’re in this business?

Sure, you are your own brand, but how do people view you? Most of us have seen the “three words to describe me” emails/facebook messages, but what matters is how you want to be perceived. Sometimes, the most important story you tell as a PR pro is your own.

I am currently working with the latest group of interns at the office. Some of the brightest young minds in PR (Seriously, I’m intimidated) are jumping face first into the world of PR and digital media. I got to meet with them today and we talked a bit about the importance of how you are perceived by your peers and the influencers you work with.

Brand your personality

Yes, I know, we don’t like the phrase “personal branding.” But it works. We know what it means, so I’m going to use it. If every interaction you have with an influencer is a pitch, how does that affect all future interactions? I think that it is important that a PR pro’s relationship with an influencer, from Kara Swisher to a hyper-local news blog, be symbiotic.

If both parties are benefiting, then the relationship is much more productive. This is especially crucial in direct-to-consumer efforts when you may be working directly with an influencer throughout an event or media tour. Your personality becomes one of the most important aspect of your professional repertoire.

Be yourself

I do my best to be myself around an influencer that I will be working with in the future. But what else can you do to help maintain your place in the wide world of PR? Here’s my ideas:

  • Walk the walk. Start a blog, learn about SEO, go shopping, become a PR Geek. The point is if you share the passion and excitement of a product you want your influencer to share with his or her audience, it will be far easier to tell that story.
  • Be seen. Get out and meet the people you want covering your clients. Be part of the community. Be active and engage with them.
  • Be genuine. Hopefully you end up representing clients you like and getting involved is easy. On the off chance you are stretching yourself daily, I think that sometimes it is OK to admit you are learning the space or learning the products and admit you are not an expert.
  • Reach out and touch somebody. Once you establish a relationship. Maybe it was a successful placement of a pitch; could have been a cocktail hour. Whatever the start was, it is up to you as the PR pro to continue the relationship. Tweet them, comment on posts and maybe even give a phone call.
  • Have an opinion. In this industry, it is important to be forward thinking and it’s not OK to put that opinion out there. Start a blog or even ask me (or somebody far more popular) if you can guest post.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the type of persona you think a PR pro should have. Tell me in the comments and let me know!