Overcoming Dubiosity: A litmus test for social media efforts

It was a dark and stormy brainstorm session. Ideas were flying.

“What if we could connect them to people who came before them and then show them the ones they could influence after?”

“What if we use a narrative device, juxtaposing past stories with current stories. The platform could provide a dramatic backdrop for the rhetorical argument.”

“Will anyone fill out a form? Let’s not make them log in.”

Marketers worldwide are hard at work dreaming up campaigns and interactive whiz-bang features that will inspire or impel users to engage. As someone who waves the social media flag in the new world order, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we want people to get involved, share their enthusiasm with others, be our brand ambassadors. And sometimes we’ll settle for just liking a pretty picture or new yogurt flavor.

And therein lies the problem. All the world’s a stage. We’re scattered, untethered, bouncing like pinballs from one suggestion or new platform to another. Opportunities, large and small, abound, while at the same time it can appear that no idea is going to make the cut. Your colleagues are skeptical, your boss is skeptical. Admit it, even you are skeptical.

World’s easiest social media strategy

Skepticism is good. What you need is a filtering device to identify the ideas in which you should invest time, money and energy.  Or you could refer to your social media strategy, except that nearly half of brands report they have no social media strategy.

Having a strategy implies having one or more goals. And often, with social media, we’re just not ready to commit to a concrete goal. We understand.

So here’s a strategy—and a set of goals—and a handy litmus test that won’t have you sweating the numbers:

  • Make it useful.
  • Make it usable.
  • Make it uniquely yours.

The first two are old mantras in the user experience field, and they apply equally as well in the social media realm. Make it useful and you’ve increased your odds of success. Make it usable and you’ve decreased your odds of failure.

The last—make it uniquely yours—is your winning ticket, a veritable boss and client pleaser. Tie your social media efforts into your brand and you’ve helped your social media efforts boost your long-term brand value. And isn’t that our holy grail, not a bunch of likes and Tweets forgotten within the next 2.4 hours?

Wait, doesn’t it have to be entertaining?

Entertaining without a sense of usefulness might be perceived as disrespectful of your fan’s time. I happen to love this article by Jonathan Salem Baskin that makes you think twice about some of the most highly touted social media campaigns like Pepsi Refresh and Old Spice. So look deep to find the ideas that make sense for your brand, and that your competitors can’t emulate – entertaining or not.

Let’s say you’re a university whose top-rated criminal justice department is home to a world-renowned body language expert. There’s a brand strength rife with useful, unique, and entertaining social media possibilities.

So the next time someone says “Hey, we should take a poll to find out how many of our fans have less than ten toes, promote it with a hashtag and then display photos of them Pinterest-style on our community page!” You can quietly say:

How is it useful?
How is it usable?
How is it uniquely yours?

Well, that idea just might be.