Social Media Noise in 2013 (and how to be heard)

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This morning I discovered a new must-follow Twitter account. Seriously.

@GalwayBuoy

That’s right. This Twitter “user” based in Ireland’s iconic Galway Bay boasts, “From Galway Bay, I will be tweeting data from @irishlights, @TechWorksMarine and @smartbayireland sensors and race/festival info for the #volvooceanrace finale.”

Or maybe I’d prefer to go farther toward the Continent and follow @ImLondonBridge. This user’s got attitude, “Certain other bridges in London think they’re so cool getting a Twitter account. Well they’re not. I’m the coolest bridge in London. Official.”

There’s no shortage of unique feeds to follow. Closer to home, I can follow storm tracking systems, shopping mall parking lots, and even area highways.

Of course, there’s certainly more compelling content (in theory) to be found. A recent report from the Digital Policy Council  says three out of four heads of state were using Twitter as of last month. Out of 164 countries, 123 world leaders have Twitter accounts either in their name or through official government offices — an increase of 78% compared to the same time period in 2011.

As a new year begins, there’s no shortage of social media commentary focused on predictions for 2013. Some lists tap a terrific breadth of industry expertise (we recommend the Social Media Examiner’s star-studded inventory), but in the end we can sum up all of the crystal ball pontificating in one word:

noisehazard

Noise. It’s going to be a loud year.

With Twitter hitting the 500 millionth user mark this year, Facebook 1 billion (with more than 850 million active daily), Pinterest continuing its meteoric rise, and sites like Instagram, LinkedIn, SlideShare, and (yes) even Google+ on the rise, if you are a brand, a nonprofit, a CEO, an organization hoping to make your mark in 2013 via social, you’ve got your work cut out for you. (And check out: 100 other fascinating social media stats for your reading enjoyment.)

 

If you’re a savvy communicator you already know that the secret sauce for solid social is content. It’s not been enough for some time now to just be on social “because everyone else is.” But the problem with just diving into the content game is that without a clear plan to create value, you’re just going to be adding to the noise.

Robert Scoble, in a terrific late December piece from Forbes that is absolutely worth your read, explains the problem simply enough. With all the noise, even average users are going to increasingly tune out, un-follow, and unsubscribe from content that isn’t bringing them value. Value-less content is noisy, uninteresting, and filled with things audiences simply don’t care about.

The opportunity for your brand is to figure out how to provide value. That’s the space you want to occupy in 2013.

Here are 4 things you can do to start creating a more valuable engagement with your community in 2013:

1. Listen. Learn. Leverage.

If you’ve been in one of purePR’s social media or branding workshops, you’ve heard lots about this. You’ve got to be in relationship with your community and real relationships require you to listen. More than ever, while you drive your strategic message and pursue your mission, you’ve got to present your content in a way that is appealing to your base. Don’t be “that guy” at the cocktail party who storms in, holds forth, and never stops talking.

Pay attention to your metrics and respond to the content your community connects with most emotionally (that’s the entire point of words like “friend” and “like” of course, to evoke a personal and more emotional connection to content).

2. Plan for beautiful, engaging, visual content.

Ekaterina Walter (social media lead at Intel) explores the need for social media to be visual media in this terrific mid-year article from Fast Company. Read this. And of course note the other word leading this step, which is plan.

3. Tailor your content to your community and your platform.

Want to know a secret about me? Here’s how to get me to stop engaging with your brand on social: post the same content on absolutely every channel you offer. To borrow from Bob Newhart: stop it. Find out, really find out, why folks have elected to like you, what value must they be hoping you will offer them on each specific channel, give it to them.

4. Focus your efforts.

End users are, and so should you. One of the predictions from Social Media Examiner’s list that we liked best came from Ed Gandia, who writes, “From the marketer’s standpoint, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s much more effective to have a solid presence in one or two channels than it is to try to dominate every single platform.”

So there you have it.

2013 promises to be a loud year, but the reality is that 2013 is also a year full of opportunity for brands and causes that choose to amplify their messages in savvy ways. What is your plan for breaking into the conversation?

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