Alert The Social Media: A Quick Guide For Newbies (And Socialphobes)

Everybody is talking about it. All the cool people are doing it. There have been hundreds of articles written about it. In fact, you may never want to hear about it again! Yes, of course, I’m speaking of social media.

Do you sometimes feel like you’re the last marketer on Earth to gather Likes on Facebook, boast of retweets on Twitter, or create buzz with Instagram photos? You’re actually not alone. There are still plenty of brands out there trying to get a grasp on what their social media platforms should look like. (I’ve personally been involved in the launch of social media platforms—Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest—for three different brands in the past four months alone.)

Or maybe you’ve already launched your social media platforms and have discovered that it’s more challenging than you thought. Sure, you’ve got help from the intern who is huge on Facebook but does she really know the strategy behind Twitter or Pinterest?



I recently sat down with Marcie Taylor, social media strategist, blogger and writer for OC Family and the Orange County Register, to get some basic guidelines on social media campaigns for the entertainment industry today. (While there are many different platforms out there, we’re going to narrow our discussion to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.)

Q: Why are each of the social media platforms important to entertainment marketing campaigns? And how are they different in terms of content?

Each social channel offers an effective means of communication. And they are even better as tools for listening. Just ask Orlando Jones from Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow.” He told an audience at the Paley Center that he enjoyed interacting with his fans on Twitter because it allowed him to see the show from their point of view. That’s very valuable. Facebook and Twitter in particular provide great forums for consumers to honestly share their thoughts about products and services.

With a 140-character limit, tweets should be punchy but also provocative—nothing shows your influence like a couple hundred retweets! Facebook posts can be a little longer and more thoughtful, but should be friendly and encourage comments. Instagram and YouTube content, of course, should have strong visual appeal—professional, but not too formal—that helps consumers connect with your brand on a more visceral level. And Pinterest posts should have an inspirational/aspirational element that makes people want to grab and repost them. 

Q: Which of the platforms is particularly hot right now?

A: Anything visual is hot. Instagram may be top of mind but Twitter has just made some big changes to make it a more visual channel. For example, they’ve created a more expanded profile and the pictures are much larger now. You can also tag people in pictures, too. 

Q: Can you post the same content or should it be different?

A: Sure, you’re often going to want to post the same content—a link to an article or a video, or an event announcement or product launch, for instance. You want your marketing message to be consistent; you just adapt the message to the channel and the audience. Actors as diverse as Felicia Day, Zooey Deschanel, Ian Somerhalder, and James Franco do a great job of engaging with their fans and promoting their projects via Twitter and Instagram. They’ve learned to be short, sweet and topical with their tweets (but note to James: lose the all caps!), and they offer great visual variety and humor on Instagram.  

Q: How often should you post content? I once heard Billy Bush on “Access Hollywood” say you were only supposed to post an Instagram photo once a day. Is that true?

A: There’s no hard-and-fast rule but you want to be sure you are posting something of value and you want to be consistent. For example, if you plan to host contests, consider holding them on #WinItWednesdays so your followers come to expect them on that day every week. Ditto for Throwback Thursdays (#tbt), when you post old or retro photos.

Q: How much should you engage with your followers/fans?

A: That really varies for each brand and campaign. If you’re Orlando Jones, then you’re actively engaged with your fans on a daily basis. So are the stars of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, who regularly host Twitter parties with their fans during the airing of the show. On the flipside, some celebrities prefer to remain unapproachable, and rarely engage with fans. 

The most important thing is to be authentic—if a brand or celebrity is going to engage, they should do it honestly, not through automated tweets or via an undertrained intern who can get them in hot water!

Q: Who is doing it right?

A: I just spent time at Knott’s Berry Farm and I’d have to say they are doing it right. As a blogger, I often get invited to their social media events where we’re asked to tweet and Instagram photos about our experiences at the park. In one campaign, we were each sent a Snoopy plush and asked to Instagram photos of the plush in different settings. Then we were to bring the plush with us to our Knott’s Berry Farm party for a big Snoopy Homecoming and whoever had the best Instagram photos would win a grand prize. Some of the bloggers had some pretty unique photos. Snoopy in Mexico…on an airplane…in a hot air balloon…

I also like Fox Network. They will use clever, unique hashtags pertaining to episodes of their shows, so people can tweet specifically rather than generically about the show. For example, the cast and crew of Bones recently engaged fans in a live-tweeting session with the hashtag #WatchingBones.

The key is to use social media in fresh and creative ways that show you’re really thinking about this—not just that everyone told you you had to be on social media! Consumers and fans can spot the difference immediately.



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