Watch and learn!

Over the last week I’ve come into contact with a few really cool examples of just how powerful social media can be. So for all you doubters out there, please, read on. And even if you aren’t a doubter, it’s always nice to have those examples in your back pocket that can stop people in their tracks.

My posts tend to have a healthcare related stance but these examples are actually totally unrelated to healthcare. For me, it’s important to look outside your day-to-day world to see just what the possibilities are, be inspired and learn how to push those boundaries.

The first example is about a tiny village in Switzerland. Their challenge? They needed people to visit their one hotel and one restaurant. Their real challenge? A mountain village of 80 inhabitants is not most people’s first choice for a dining location. I’ll let this video explain the rest…

So what’s important here? The take-away for me is that you don’t need a huge amount of money to be successful in social media. The citizens of Obermutten clearly spent a small amount filming and editing, but then they let the power of social media take Obermutten to the global stage. And in a classic online word-of-mouth scenario, the little Swiss town has made its mark on the tourism map.

My next example actually comes from a documentary that aired on channel 4 this week – you may have watched it, The Fried Chicken Shop. An odd choice you may think, but it somehow managed to captivate me even beyond the hour it aired for. Into the shop walked a guy who ‘worked in social media’ and out came his hilarious recommendations for the shops’ social media presence. ‘What would you hashtag? Spicy chicken?’ he asked the bewildered chicken server. And then came the influx of #spicychicken tweets. Within minutes, not only had the twitterverse managed to find this guys handle (only knowing him as Nick) but his followers were doubling by the second. After an hour, his followers had gone from 52 to 2600 and #spicychicken was trending. Less than a week later, he now has over 4000 followers interested in his #spicychicken tales.

A silly story you may think, but there are again some key points that can be applied to any social media campaign: be current, be emotive and be human. Thousands of people jumped on #spicychicken because it was a classic ‘he’s talking about it, so I’m going to talk about it!’ type scenario. To not be involved was to miss out.

The content itself was funny – you couldn’t help but find it entertaining. So be emotive with your content and people will naturally talk about you. And finally – and I think some companies forget this – just be human; speak to your audience as real people, and not an obtainable metric.

My final example is from the Australian transport agency, and it really goes to show how good content is really all you need. They took a pretty dry subject – train safety – developed a really cool animation and then sat back and watched social media work its magic.

A classic case of some awesome content going viral, purely because the medium was engaging, the content relatable and the vehicle popular. Anyone working in social media dreams of reaching these kind of viewing figures!

So three key learning’s about social media: invest a little (but not necessarily a lot), have good content and behave like a person talking to a person. Easy, right?!

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The language of conversation

It seems that some are still questioning why social media strategy sits with PR agencies as opposed to a digital or creative agency, or indeed any agency at all. For me, the answer is simple – nobody understands messaging, engagement and overall language better than PR experts. This is something we’ve been doing since the term ‘public relations’ was first coined, and in this new world – although on the whole I refuse to call it ‘new’ anymore – of digital PR, the power of language is more evident than ever.

‘Who cares about language?’ some may ask – just give me a branded Facebook page and a couple of videos on YouTube and I’ve ticked the social media box. No, no, no! This is where some brands are still falling down at the first hurdle. In fact, they aren’t really even reaching the first hurdle. To achieve brand longevity and a sustainable social media presence, it is vital to use language that is audience specific, ignites conversation (in a positive way!) and gives you a social identity. If you can achieve these things, then you are on the way to reaching those people – be it patients, carers, families or medical professionals – that are looking for support.

If you’re a patient, perhaps recently diagnosed, chances are you are feeling apprehensive, concerned and more than likely curious to find out more. When you turn to the big G, the last thing you want to see is brand and company messages shoved in your face in a completely unnatural and downright intrusive manner. What’s really going to make you click on one of the results out of hundreds of pages of search results (SEO aside) is something engaging, meaningful and organic. Something that resonates with you and your current emotions. And the power of language choices as a brand is not to be underestimated here.

Then of course there’s language in the native-tongue sense – a big consideration in global social media campaigns. As I’ve been researching and thinking about this post, I’ve started to wonder if really there can be a truly global campaign at all. Today we have to consider language variations, cultural sensitivities and platform reach, but can we really do this via one campaign?

The social media space in India is showing a nice trend that addresses some of these challenges. In a country with a whole variety of languages and dialects within one set of geographical parameters, we are seeing unexpected popularity in image sharing platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook for their abilities to share and communicate in a universally understandable way.

So I suppose in a way, my two points here could be contradictory: words and language are fundamental, yet image sharing is the global solution. I, however, think that the two can in fact be complimentary and work hand in hand. And that goes back to my original thought; know your audience, know your objectives and know why. As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words.

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