Advice You Never Get About Social Media

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By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

By now, you’ve heard it all: be authentic, identify the “super users,” don’t control the conversation, and so on and so forth. You’ve read all the blog posts written by some of the most influential social media experts (you’ve read enough to know that even social media experts hate the term “social media experts”). So you’re all set, right? Wrong. Why? Here’s a challenge. Grab a friend who doesn’t know how to swim. Spend an hour or so describing everything you know about swimming to her. Now take her to a pool. How do you feel about pushing her in? Are you confident that your primer on swimming will ensure she stays afloat? The only way to succeed in social media is to actually have experience in social media. I know what you’re thinking: if I can’t learn social media by reading literature, why are you giving me more literature on social media? And that’s a good point. But here’s the twist – I’m taking everything I know from my experience, combining it with the literature I’ve read on social media, and telling you what they’ve left out. You’re still going to have to dive in and put in the time…but at least you’ve got floaties. In an industry as highly regulated as Pharma, it’s pretty easy to drown. So here it is, all the advice you never get about social media:

The ones who leave negative comments need the most attention.

A few weeks ago, CBS News changed my whole world. Since 2001, I began every morning watching Maurice DuBois co-anchor CBS2 News This Morning from the New York flagship station. Then in 2003, I followed weatherman Dave Price from his local stint at Fox5’s Good Day New York to the CBS Early Show. That’s how it was for the better part of the last decade: Maurice from 6:00AM-7:00AM, Dave from 7:00AM until whenever I had to catch a train for work. About two weeks ago, I tuned into the morning news for the first time since my long holiday vacation and immediately noticed that something was wrong. After learning that Maurice was moved to the evening news and Dave Price – along with Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith, also favorites of mine – was fired from the Early Show and replaced with the weekend anchors, I took to the Internet to vent my frustration. I told myself, “I’ll give CBS a chance to explain themselves, or at least sell me on the new crew.” I even searched for the new anchors Chris Wragge and Erica Hill on Twitter. I wasn’t ready to give up. But days went by, and then weeks, with me tweeting directly at the Early Show asking for some explanation (or heck, even comfort) with no response. However, I did see plenty of immediate responses to viewers who said they enjoyed the new crew. Disappointed, I started tuning in to NBC’s early morning programming.

How many others were like me? According to a report from Mediabistro, 260,000 people tuned in elsewhere since the shake-up. But think of how many CBS could have converted into loyal viewers if they’d just done a little damage control. Isn’t that why you’re on social media, anyway? You’re not here to get complimented 24/7, you’re here to listen to the negative things that people are saying about your brand and trying to fix those things. Everyone always talks about social media listening and social media monitoring – but why don’t you try social media responding?

Deviate from the subject matter.

We love pharma. We love digital. And sometimes we like things like LOLcats and funny YouTube videos and online comics. So we share them with you. Because we’re not just a news feed, we’re people. And this human aspect is so important to social media. Think about the last Pharma conference you attended. Now think about the cocktail reception afterward. Chances are, we sponsored it. We love parties. We love getting to know you all. Now remember all the people you were talking to at the last cocktail reception, and try to remember what you were all talking about. You probably realized that it didn’t have anything to do with digital or Pharma. In the past year, we’ve shared insights with you about things like technological innovation, social media marketing, and the FDA. But we’ve also talked about having your first kid, switching jobs, the best places to eat in Philadelphia, and who our favorite comedians are. I was actually surprised at how many people were interested in my previous stint as a fashion marketer and why I think Ryan Gosling is one of today’s best young actors. And that conversation is just as important as the ones we have in boardrooms and at conferences. The way I see it, social media is about people first, information second. I follow you on Twitter and I’m your friend on Facebook because I want to know more about you, not just what you do.

Name names.

Just like the last tip, it’s all about humanizing your brand. Certain corporate conventions call for social media messaging to go out on behalf of the company – in fact, we follow that convention on Twitter. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t call out certain individuals. For instance, you’re probably familiar with DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound) or Guy Mastrion (@gmastrion) because we often mention them. That way, when you meet Pixels & Pills at industry events, you know you’re meeting real people. We call out the authors of each of our blog posts because we want you to be able to get in touch with us if we write something that you agree or disagree with. We want you to know that this isn’t just content for content’s sake; these are our thoughts, our opinions, and things we feel passionately about and love talking about with other people. Let your audience get to know the people behind your brand.

Finally, here are a few tips that need no explanation:

  • Participate in tweetchats
  • Create an editorial calendar to manage all your social media content
  • Queue informational tweets so that you can focus on real-time conversations

Do you have any tips about social media that often get left out? Share them below!

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2 Responses to Advice You Never Get About Social Media

  1. 40deuce says:

    I love the swimming analogy you started with. I think it’s absolutely true. You can read and try to learn as much as you can about social media, but nothing will ever beat actually doing it. By doing it you make your way of doing it. You can incorporate all the things you read (or at least try to), but it will always come out in your way. You need to just start doing, and by remembering tips you read you will eventually carve out your own voice and way of doing things. Your own voice and way of doing things is going to (most likely) be the best way.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your comment Sheldon!

    I agree with what you said about “by doing it you make your way of doing it.” I think when we dole out advice on social media strategies as much as we do, we lose that sense of voice and that sense of style that is so critical to establishing your brand. In a way, that’s the quintessential lesson for everyone to learn about social media: everyone does it differently. Thanks again for your great insight.

    Kim