Breathe, Pause, Think

If you work in social and digital, this a reminder of how important it is to put your brand hat on. To take a deep breath, pause and think. It’s not only okay, it’s needed.

Social media can turn into the wild, wild west for a brand if not careful. A place where gimmicks are awarded and eyeballs viewed as successful. It’s a place where brands can lose their soul if the right thought is not given.

One of the challenges this industry faces is the pressure to be on, all the time. This pressure means we are constantly doing and not thinking. We push and pray without understanding why. In essence, social media becomes a playground for tactics. And then, everything turns into a sea of sameness.

But this pressure, it’s created by us. And we need to shake it off. Consumers are not asking us to post and push all the time. The world will continue if you stop and take a couple days for strategic planning. Consumers won’t lose their brand affinity if you don’t tweet for one day.

Here’s the thing. Social media is about the now, but it’s also about the brand. And brands don’t come to life without a vision, purpose and unique point-of-view. It’s critical to spend time thinking about what social media means for the brand at a higher level. The greater danger is not in pausing to plan. It’s in never planning and losing sight of you brand.

Good work isn’t easy. In fact, it’s tedious. And thinking about a brand strategy and how digital and social plays a role is no doubt an undertaking. But it’s the work that matters in making sure social plays the right role in an org.

So here’s my advice. Give yourself permission to step away from the tactics. Immerse yourself in the brand strategy. Identify focus. Create a plan. Then, once you’ve done that, focus on the tactics and execute well.

College Football & Video, Video, Video

One thing was clear if you scrolled through Twitter during the first weekend of college football. Video is now the crown jewel of content. Yes, it was everywhere.

There are a lot of reasons why teams and brands are investing more in video. The average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. And, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combine (Brightcove). When done right, video has the ability to captivate an audience more than any other medium right now.

But, the key is that video content has to be strong. To get people to actually stop and watch within their feeds take something special. Below are a few things to keep in mind:

 

1- The opening matters.

The first three seconds of any video are critical to pulling people in. You don’t get the luxury of getting to the heart of the matter 10 seconds. Fans will already be long gone if you haven’t pulled them in. Make sure your first few frames capture attention, hearts and mind or all the labor of love will be fruitless.

 

2- Evoke emotion.

What draws people into content is emotion, of all kinds. When people watch and share videos, it’s because something about the video resonated with them. This article in FastCo said it best:

Popular brands had multifaceted personalities. They could make you laugh, or cheer, or lean forward and take notes. They’d stopped hammering away at a share of mind, and were expanding to achieve a share of emotion.

When you think about video content, ask what type of emotion you want to evoke. Focus on delivering a piece that achieves that share of emotion.

 

3- Storytelling comes in all lengths.

Six-second ads are all the rage these days. Of course there is value in catering to short attention spans, but it’s more about eliciting AND sustaining emotion that matters. Don’t be afraid to produce a longer video if the quality is there. The key is to test different lengths, mix it up and make sure the content is as compelling as can be.

 

4- Quality over quantity.

Investing in video is a commitment. It takes time and resources, so they key is to focus on quality over quantity. I would take strong photography and graphics offer lackluster video any day because a mediocre video isn’t going to get any traction. Don’t feel the pressure to have every piece of content be video. Instead, make sure your content strategy includes a strong mix of video, photos and graphics.

 

5- Think about the platform.

Different video formats, from live to vertical, work better on different platforms. As your approach content planning, think about how to diversity the type of content and a/b test on what works best.

Now, let’s get to the fun stuff. Below are some standout video creations from the first weekend of college football. This list spans from brand storytelling to shorter clicks and live video. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in it:

 

Michigan

This video is rooted in the history, the brand and the emotion of Michigan. It’s beautifully produced and a great example of a longer video that works. Turn up the video on this one because the script is especially strong.

 

Clemson- First-Hand POV

Every year Clemson delivers on elevating their content. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, they offer a completely fresh take on creative. This video puts fans in a player’s shoes, offering a first-hand perspective the work it takes to get to game day.

 

Iowa

It doesn’t take an Iowa fan to appreciate the emotion that’s brought to life in this video. Like the Michigan video, this isn’t a hype reel. It’s a video rooted in the Hawkeye’s brand, history and nostalgia and it will give you goosebumps.

Another thing worth noting is that Iowa leveraged former players to help share the video. A smart distribution play:

 

Auburn

Auburn’s video have taking on a unique style this season. The perspective and editing alone is enough to capture attention.
The first video is great example of tapping into something other than a highlight reel. It’s not a long emotional story. It doesn’t show big hits. In fact, it doesn’t show any on-the-field footage at all. This video works because of the unique approach to production. The editing and video style what make it stand out—and the engagement numbers show it.

The second video is a great example of how you can make something as simple as sights and sounds compelling. Again, it goes back to the perspective and editing in this video.

 

South Carolina

The Gamecocks had several video highlights. From a snackable video that offers a firsthand perspective to a more emotional hype video, the Gamecocks show us what it means to produce a variety of video content that is quality.

 

 

 

Oregon

This video is completely different than anything else covered. It’s illustrative, fun and has a bit of an Oregon vintage feel. Not everything has to be overly emotional or hard hitting – don’t be afraid to focus on something that’s different and fun.

 

Oklahoma

The Sooners produced a live pre-game show that was over three hours long. They did a fantastic job of mixing in studio coverage with sights and sounds from game day. Fans from all across the country were able to get amazing access and information, for free, all from their phone. This is the future of programming and something all teams and leagues should be thinking about:

 
 
What videos stood out to you the first weekend of college football? Share your thoughts below.

Highlights from NBA the Schedule Release

Social media has infused creativity into everything teams and leagues do now. There’s pressure to be at the top of your game with the battle for attention in a crowded space. Teams’ content must stand out, whether it’s for a national championship or pseudo-holiday.

This need for creativity was evident in the NBA’s recent schedule release. Teams took to social to drive interest through strong content and off-the-wall ideas.

Below are a few of the highlights from the 2018 NBA schedule release. Whatever your brand’s style, voice and tone, there is inspiration here:

 

Brooklyn Nets- Orchestrated Creative

The Brooklyn Nets schedule release the a well orchestrated schedule release. They had strong creative paired with a platform approach. They tapped into iconic parts of NYC to together a dynamic unveil across all three platforms. Here’s a look at their creative and some of their execution:

Say hello to a new season. #WeGoHard

A post shared by Brooklyn Nets (@brooklynnets) on

One of the strongest aspects of their unveil was that they took their concept and molded it to each platform. On Instagram, they unveiled pieces through a grid unveil. On Twitter, the photos turned into a GIF. On Facebook, they focused on their video piece.

 

Denver Nuggets- Nostalgia

Channeling some nostalgia, the Nuggets took to a classic video game to unveil their schedule. Of course, collecting all their opponents all the way. For a topic that could otherwise be dry, the Nuggets did a good job of putting a creative spin on it.

 

76ers- Driving People to .com

The Sixers created a fun, illustrative video that called out highlights from their schedule, then drove people to .com to see the full release.

If one of your goals is to drive people to your site, this is a good example of how to do so. You never want your account to feel like a push notification, so tread with caution. The @sixers’ schedule content is engaging, so even if it doesn’t include the entire schedule, it adds value for their fans.

The Sixers also get an extra +1 for the music on this video (so please, turn the sound on).

The schedule is in!

A post shared by Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) on

 

Sacramento Kings- Use of IG Carousel

The Instagram carousel feature offers a lot of opportunity to tell and unveil stories different. You no longer have to rely on one photo, but instead, can string content together for a more engaging experience. The Kings schedule unveil is an example of this.

2017-18 Kings schedule revealed 👀

A post shared by Sacramento Kings (@sacramentokings) on

 

Warriors- Win With Puppies

The Warriors unveiled their schedule with adorable puppies, taking on and conquering their opponents (in the form of chew toys, of course). It’s a win, because who doesn’t love puppies?

While this content play might be a bit left feel, a schedule release is a good opportunity to think outside-the-box and have some fun. This isn’t mean to be a season-long marketing play. It’s a one day push to capture your fan’s attention and generate interest in tickets. Puppies will do that.

 

Raptors, Bucks & Trailblazers- Hype Videos

When all else fans in sports, you can also go the route of a good hype video. After all, fans love a combination of emotion and action. Below are a few examples that stood out from the Raptors, Bucks and Trailblazers.

59 Days & counting. #WeTheNorth

A post shared by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

 

Chicago Bulls- Infographic

The Chicago Bulls leveraged interesting facts in their schedule to generate interest, turning the information into fun and consumable infographics. The Instagram carousel is especially impressive.

What else stood out to you during the NBA schedule release? Share your thoughts below!

On Expanding Beyond Social

There was a time in my career when social was the end all be all. If you asked what I wanted to do long term, the answer was always “work in social”. After all, who doesn’t enjoy spending their days connecting with consumers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook? There’s a lot of personal gratification that comes with it.

When I was at the NCAA though, I had a fantastic colleague and friend who would always push me—“Jess, it’s bigger than that”. At that point, I didn’t understand what he meant. But since he is someone I respect and admire, that advice stayed with me.

Fast forward to now. I’ve had a variety of experience from agency to the brand side. I’ve seen the struggles and values of working in social. I’ve reported into creative teams, marketing teams, PR teams and sales teams. I’ve been in orgs where social is siloed and orgs where it’s collaborative. I’ve seen social be successful, and at times, miss the mark.

After all these years, I now get that advice from my friend.

Social is a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle that can only be successful if it’s part of the big picture. You have to figure out how to turn the tweets and likes into ROl. You have to understand how it maps back to organizational goals. You have to drive results. It’s about marketing as a whole.

If you started your career in social, then you have a strong marketing foundation already. You have a knack for understanding content. You get what it means to be consumer-centric. You know how to tell a story that makes people pay attention. You are adaptable, willing to learn and often eager to push things forward.

But, moving up in social alone and taking on new roles isn’t always easy. There are a lot of entry level jobs, some middle manager jobs and true leadership roles are hard to find. Perhaps it’s because ROI is still hard to prove. Or, because rightly so, marketing as a whole should be driving it all.

So here’s that “ah-ha” moment. If you feel yourself at a fork in your career and you’re not sure where to go, don’t be afraid to take on an expanded marketing role. Your foundation in social is invaluable. And, a more general role should still touch social—after all, it’s a piece of a larger brand and digital strategy. An expanded role will open all kinds of new doors and challenges though. And, it will arm you with an even stronger skill set.

When thinking about a career path now, it’s extends beyond “working in social”. It’s the hope of one day being a CMO. Of helping brands and organizations tell their story holistically, while driving business goals. Companies need more brand marketers and leaders who can drive a 360 plan with digital in mind.

So, take a leap to a different role. Ask for a project outside of your job description. Know that it’s okay to move on from social (if you want)– and that you will thrive. One day you could be leading a team that’s driving the entire brand story, across all channels. That’s exciting.

The One Word To Guide Your Social Media Philosophy

If you had to pick one word to define your philosophy towards social media, what would it be?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. Social media plays a lot of roles within an organization. It’s complicated, multifaceted and often subjective.

But these complications make it important to understand your social media philosophy. After thinking about this question, there is one word that keeps coming to mind: Deliberate.

Being deliberate is about leading with intention. It means staying true to your what, why and when. And in this age of instant gratification, deliberate work is even more important.

Social media marketers have a tough job. There are expectations to be strategic, but swift. Plan, but be nimble. Be human, but remain on brand. Push, but build a community. Have fun, but drive business results. It is the ultimate juggling.

It’s easy to get caught focus on the wrong things when juggling it all. Social media lends itself to quick wins and reckless tactics. It’s easy to chase engagement, regardless of whether it’s right for the brand.

To win this ultimate juggling act and do right by the brands we work for, we have to be deliberate. We have set a strategy and brand point-of-view and stick to it. We have to understand that our jobs aren’t defined by likes and retweets, but how we move the needle for the organization. It’s about purpose. And driving purpose for the brand.

There are many ways to win attention in social media. But it’s the brands that tell their story in authentic ways and approach it with a strategic frame of mind that win in the long run.

So as you think about your philosophy in social, think about how to be deliberate. Be deliberate in your execution. Be deliberate with how you tell your story. Be deliberate with your brand. At the end of the day, it’s not the number of likes and retweets that matter, but the ability to drive back organizational strategies and goals.