I understand that this question is likely intended to refer to game-changing new apps, but at the risk of losing credit for this answer, I will sheepishly admit to being constantly amazed at how ubiquitous Twitter has become while at the same time operating at a staggering loss (or ‘negative profit” as this generation of venture capitalists would describe it). The juxtaposition of a platform at once so powerful and prevalent with the inherent difficulty in monetizing the app will, I think, be a case study for years to come.
Meanwhile, the app itself is proving its worth, as companies are quick to respond to those who mention their brand. Trapped in DC at the airport, I tweeted about the airline’s ridiculously poor customer service at the counter, and within minutes they had responded with an apology. Did they make money? Nope, but they were able to address a concern in real time in the middle of the night.
How Twitter manages to capture (read: monetize) the staggering reach and utility of their app will in many ways define the internet 2.0
The two organizations I would hold up as having exceptional social media strategies are the aforementioned Harvard Program on Negotiation and Marcelo Garcia Online
Both these organizations use their social media presence not only to generate direct and passive revenues but also to establish themselves as valuable brands in their own right – as leaders in their fields. The fact that they ARE leaders in their respective fields is an added bonus, but no doubt their social media strategy would be effective even were that not the case.
What they both do exceptionally well is offer value in every post. It makes it easy to share these posts, as I know they won’t be an imposition on other people’s feeds. And of course, every time I share, I’m essentially endorsing them.
Specifically, Marcelo Garcia Online offers a sampling of free technique videos, which get instantly and repeatedly shared by the grappling community across their own platforms, generating and sustaining interest in his website. They host a discussion forum whose members are knowledgeable and deeply invested in the sport. These and other strategies funnel his target audience to signing up for a $25/month membership, granting them further access. They seem to have found an appropriate price point for the monthly membership, and by all reports are making millions per year from people more than happy to sign up for monthly payments.
The Harvard Program on Negotiation site has a few more revenue streams, but follows a similar model: offer valuable free content, establish themselves as the experts in the field, and upsell memberships. They also sell course materials and offer executive training — a sales process that benefits from the brand they’re building through the free content.
A weak social media organization that comes to mind is one of the gyms where I teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Their social media is, at best, an afterthought. Students post from time to time, but it’s an echo chamber where they essentially talk to each other, with no focus on, or mechanism for, membership growth or retention. A good first step for them would be to highlight individual members in posts so as to begin to use social media to retain membership. Welcoming new students would also help with retention, and once students feel appreciated, they would be much more likely to participate in future promotional efforts.
Well, seems I’m further behind the times than I had originally thought. And while that’s going to make these courses more difficult than I had anticipated, there’s a lot of fun to be had in a learning curve steep enough to slide on. So…
While it would likely be easier to refer to the tools given in the reading assignment, the truth is that at present I don’t use discrete tools to listen to or monitor social media. I get much of the news and updates of interest through facebook, although I’ve subscribed to an RSS feed and check cnn and a few other sites religiously. I also follow and post on a mixed martial arts bulletin board which keeps me up to speed not only on professional martial arts in general, but (through a subforum) on competitions and new techniques being developed in my own sport.
I use these sources instead of aggregators by default — once I’m somewhat more social-media literate, I’ll no doubt make use of the available tools. One of the reasons for taking this course it to familiarize myself with the tools necessary to both monitor my own reach and better focus my information uptake.
That being said, the Harvard Program on Negotiation blog has proven to be an excellent resource for negotiation and conflict resolution information. I’ve found this blog invaluable not only in my professional life, but also in my personal life. This because not only is the information itself of value, but having negotiation theory ‘top of mind’ on a regular basis help me contextualize conflict, personal and business, in a productive manner
For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll refer to my secondary profession, that of a self-defense / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor. I’ve started a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu related blog, facebook group and instagram account that I’ll be using for the purposes of this Social Media program, but once I’ve a better grasp of the ‘back of the house’ mechanics of social media, I intend to port it to a dedicated web address and reach out to the BJJ community for followers. Through this, I intend to further extend my reach to those who don’t train and convert interested readers to students.
In addition to regular blogging, I intend to video some of my lessons and add those to my blog, as well as reviews of equipment, supplements, etc. I plan to make my blog a resource for people who are interested in my sport or in self-defense in general, but may be somewhat intimidated by the thought of fight training and therefore aren’t being targeted by most websites in my field.
In person, sending people to my blog is much more natural than trying to buttonhook them into coming to take a class, so I intend to shift focus from “Hey, drop by and take a class” to “Hey, check out the blog, there’s stuff there that speaks to what we’re talking about”, which if properly implemented will funnel that person to an ongoing engagement and eventually to an in-person visit.
Assuming I eventually manage to grow an audience large enough to make a bulletin board viable, I’ll expand to that as well.
And, of course, the hope is that once these courses have brought me somewhat up to speed on the tools available through social media, I expect to be able to employ methodologies I don’t even know exist as yet…