Don’t Be Afraid to Borrow Social Media Recipes

July 29, 2013

social media recipes

A word often paired with social media is ‘engagement.’ It’s true. Social media is an engaging medium. While this is exciting for many, some brands see this as a barrier to entry, especially smaller businesses or those in B2B sectors. 

“Ford/Starbucks/McDonald’s can do that but we can’t. We’re just a boring B2B business.” Or “We’re too small.” A scrappy way to overcome these objections is to look beyond the name cache of these companies to the strategy behind their noteworthy social media efforts.

As a good Midwestern (recovering) Lutheran, I’ve attended my fair share of picnics and potlucks through the years. These events are very social in their own right, as people come together to share their food with one another. More importantly, when someone makes a dish that’s a hit, it’s not uncommon to hear the crowd ask for the recipe. Put in a business context, someone employs a successful tactic and others ask for the strategy behind it so that they can employ it in the future. Perhaps at a soup supper next year during Lent. I digress …

Rather than moping about how your business isn’t interesting enough to do work like these industry leaders, figure out what their recipe is and steal it. If this seems dodgy or ill advised, consider the words of Picasso himself, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

For example, in considering how to approach Instagram’s new video feature, you can see that there are some great videos from Ben & Jerry’s where they take you behind the scenes of their lab, showing you how various raw ingredients become your favorite flavors. This recipe isn’t out of reach for your business, especially if you make something. It’s an obvious fit for someone in food service but it also works for sectors where you manufacture things. Show your fans how you take the raw materials and make them into the widgets you sell. The recipe: Take your fans behind the scenes.

How about on Facebook when you see brands like Salesforce employing fun photos featuring inspirational quotes? With some help from your graphic designer, you can steal this recipe, too. We all know that visuals like this are virtual catnip on Facebook, where photos drive engagement, which in turn drives their Edgerank algorithm. The recipe: Employ visuals to prompt engagement.

When Dove fans tweet Vine videos about “what having a great hair day inspires them to do” it’s powerful to both see and hear actual customers professing their love for the brand. This too is attainable. Unless you’re a new start-up with no customers, I bet you have a few fans that love your products. Encourage them to submit videos for sharing. If participation is low, consider rewarding them like Vidal Sassoon did on their #ShowYourGenius campaign. The recipe: Ask your fans to create video testimonials.

I could go on but you get the idea. Instead of being intimidated by social media campaigns that get a lot of press, look past the big brand name and find the recipe behind the tactics. From here, take a page from Picasso’s handbook and do a bit of stealing.

Or be a nice Midwesterner and just ask for the recipe politely.

Photo via Flickr user Muffet
This entry was posted in Social Media Strategy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.