Sunday, September 18, 2011
Some Non-Traditional Social Media Activities
Note: This is the culmination of the last two posts outlining Milestones and Activities in your social media timeline.
When you create a social content strategy aimed at community-building, you start at the beginning. After you’re comfortable with the basics, it’s time to expand into other, non-traditional social channels. Now, this isn’t something you do without care or thought. It’s very important to understand how a non-traditional social channel fits into your community-building effort. Even new technologies that, at-first-glance, seem irrelevant to your efforts could prove to be the key pivot point in your social content strategy.
Luckily for us, Michael Crame has an open mind and is willing to try several social media channels as long as we make good cases for using them. This is helpful because Ion Training spends a lot of time experimenting with new technologies and social channels. Our initial discussions with Michael highlighted the strong role that images and music played in the development of his novel, Katzenjammered. We have based some of our non-traditional community-building efforts around 2 social media channels tailored to these types of communities.
Building Your Community Using Images on Instagr.am
Everyone has heard the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. As an author, Michael Crame controls every word that he puts to paper. He crafts each creative element, including the scenes, the characters, the dialog, the environment, the plot and the story arc. If he’s done his job well, the reader will be immersed in Michael’s vision and the story will “come alive” in his/her mind. That’s the beauty of writing - each reader gets to envision the story in his/her own unique way. The reader blends his/her own life experience into the narrative in vast and unknown ways.
What’s sometimes difficult is the subtle art of the hook. Some great stories take pages and pages of exposition to draw the reader into the narrative, the milieu, the environment. In today’s gadget-obsessed world, many readers are drawn to fragments, and it’s difficult to entice your reader and convey your entire vision in 140 characters. This is where Instagr.am enters the picture, so to speak.
If you’re not aware of the community and personal brand-building opportunity on Instagr.am, you need to pay attention. With over 10 Million users in 12 months, and only available on iOS (no Android, no Website), it’s a force to be reckoned with in the image-sharing world. Instagr.am lets users snap or upload photos, apply some cool filters or tilt-shift effects, add a caption and location, then post to the community, but that’s not why they’re popular. They’ve created a passionate community that uses images to tell stories. They beat Flick to the mobile punch and have adoring fans worldwide. Big Brands have taken notice and many are developing their own content strategies around image sharing on Instagr.am.
Three Reasons To Use Instagr.am To Build Michael’s Community
The rise of Instagr.am is important to Michael and his community-building efforts for three initial reasons:
- Michael has pictures from over the last 10 years of the people, places and happenings that inform his novel, Katzenjammered;
- Many of Michael’s images are stories unto themselves, and he can use these images to locate his audience in a specific time and place, quickly;
- The Katzenjammered images serve as the visual hook, a starting point for the community to engage with Michael and his story.
We’ve asked Michael (aka @penmonkey on Instagr.am) to group his Mardi Gras photos into themes and associate each theme with a certain section of his novel or his writing process. Once that’s finished, we’ll plan his Instagr.am content publishing strategy. I call it a content strategy because it’s actually not just the images that we’re concerned with. Michael will be publishing the image, but making good use of the photo’s location, the photo captions and hash tags to group his photos into themes or collections on Instagr.am itself.
This is the beginning of an overall publishing strategy where we take Michael’s initial content from one channel and re-publish it on different social networks. This allows Michael to build upon his previous content using the elements that each social network is best known for.
A Social Content Publishing Strategy In Action
As an illustration, Michael will publish several of his Mardi Gras photos on Instagr.am over the course of a week. Each will have captions of 140 characters or less which will tell a very short story, all related to the theme of the photos. He’ll start adding these photos to specific #collections using the hash tag symbol. He’ll also add a comment to each photo with a bit more detail. When he publishes on Instagr.am, he’ll have a tweet sent automatically to Twitter. Each photo/caption set will tease a greater story.
At the end of the week, Michael will publish the final theme image with a URL to his Tumblr blog, which will also be published to Twitter. The blog post will contain the images and their complete back story, which will fit into one of the category themes that Michael writes about each week! This gives you an idea how a single piece of content can be successfully re-purposed across multiple social channels.
Building Your Community Using Music on Last.fm
When we have Michael create a Last.fm profile, we’re following a similar concept of building a community using a non-traditional social channel. Just as an image can better attune his audience to a specific tone he wants to evoke, music sets the mood for entire chapters of Katzenjammered. In fact, Michael has curated a soundtrack that captures the spirit and mood of his writing. He’s using Last.fm to publish a playlist of those songs which, if you listen to them in order, will give you some emotional insight into the character’s development and the story line.
As Michael blogs about his writing process, he’ll explore each of the songs and artists in his Last.fm playlist and bring his audience into his mindset. Readers will get to study the influence that music and lyrics have in the creative process.
Since music is such a driver in Michael’s writing, Michael will be linking his Last.fm playlist to his Tumblr blog. Once he’s done that, he can embed some of the music that motivates and inspires him to write into his blog posts. His community will get to listen in on his thought processes as he writes several short stories that will be published as Kindle Singles on Amazon in the months leading up to his novel’s release.