Tag Archives: brand

Quick take: Content/brand strategy driving Facebook posts

Sometimes people who run social media accounts may find “content strategy” a daunting concept. It’s not. On the most basic level, it’s thinking about what’s important to your institution or organization (your “brand,” if you would), what’s happening in the world and how content may appear that provides a solution.

Consider the following:

  • On Thursday, it snowed in Oswego. This isn’t exactly rare but the OMGWTFBBQ! posts showing snow — which pretty much all melted by the afternoon — put out a perception of polar bears hanging out in the quad. (That doesn’t happen until February.)
  • The upcoming Friday through Sunday was Family and Friends Weekend, a big campuswide event we try to promote on social media various ways.
  • One of our strengths, according to everyone from prospective students to alumni, is our scenic campus.
  • Terms like “scrappy” and “resilient” often come up in describing our students. They are not the scions of privilege and many have to overcome obstacles to meet their goals. (And I love them for it.)

How can you wrap that all into a piece of content?

Simple: Grab the iPhone and wander outside. By Friday morning, the snow was long-gone and fall foliage remained. I took a few pictures of foliage, including some on the iPhone’s panorama function (which is simple but still confuses me) while composing copy addressing the above points in my head.

Here was the result, posted to Facebook and other social channels early Friday morning:

fallcontent

The copy read: “Even though the week brought a bit of snow, a bit of graupel and more than a bit of rain, we still have plenty of fall foliage to greet visitors when Family and Friends Weekend begins later today.” This addresses the weather (lest that was a concern for potential visitors), our upcoming event, our scenic beauty and the concept of resilience. (Graupel, btw, is a type of frozen precipitation and a great vocabulary word.) It garnered a pretty good 128 likes and 12 shares — plus we’ve since reused it as the page’s banner image, nearing 130 more likes.

Admittedly, not everything is that complicated in concept, but knowing what you represent and what’s happening are two main points as you consider what content to create and share.

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what’s the frequency, kenneth?: (over)use of social communication.

Let’s say you have two co-workers with similar responsibilities. Or two children of similar ages. C1 contacts you all the time. A few times an hour, 20 to 30 times per workday. C2 contacts you about once a day … usually related to the most important thing on their plate.

It’s a Friday afternoon and your office rings with two calls simultaneously: C1 and C2. Which one do you pick up?

If you say C2, then you realize the relationship between frequency of message and perceived importance. If you say C1, I really can’t help you.

It’s a simple concept, right? Then why do communication professionals looking to market a brand — a college, a program, a product — think we really want to receive dozens of tweets, Facebook page messages, e-mails, phone calls, faxes or telegrams from them on any given day? (Please note I’m not talking about personal Twitter or Facebook accounts or the like, because how you use your personal communication is your prerogative.)

The audio field uses a term called signal-to-noise ratio. It pertains to, in a specific device (or recording), the relationship of the signal — what you want the listener to hear — to the background noise, the hiss, the rattle and hum (updated example: the sound of a laptop playing a CD or DVD to the audio itself). If you’re in charge of communicating for your brand, you want a high signal-to-noise ratio, or for your audience to know whatever you’re transmitting is important.

As an editor for a daily paper, I knew the contact who sent one or two relevant news releases per week likely provided more news value than the organization that sent 15 to 20 releases per week of little importance. If you’re running your organization’s Twitter stream or Facebook fan page, the same rules apply. If your college or brand posts proprietary content 20 to 30 times per day — not counting replies, which are important —  you’ll soon become noise, or communication clutter. I’m less likely to notice your scientist winning an award, your student accomplishing something great, your $2 million donation because I’ve learned to scan past your avatar … if I’m still connected to you at all. If your brand only talks to me once or twice a day, your signal-to-noise ratio says that when you speak, you’re more likely saying something important.

What do you think? Whether you’re running or reading a college or brand’s Twitter stream or Facebook page, how much is too much?

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thinking of ballparks as brands.

Just as the campus should reflect what your college finds important, so are ballparks the places where baseball teams really live their brands. That this may or may not have much to do with what happens on the field tells us how baseball is more like a civic treasure than it is a game.

This summer, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit four different baseball parks: big-time majors to small-town majors, new and old, large and small. Like any good brand, ballparks (imho) can be boiled to a single noun or adjective … one that often also says a lot about the surrounding community. (DISCLAIMER: These opinions are mine alone. Your mileage may vary.)

CitiField: A visual extravaganza.

CitiField: A visual extravaganza.

CITIFIELD, HOME OF THE NEW YORK METS.

In a word: Prestige.

CitiField opened this year with a lot of promise, as did its franchise. The Mets spend a lot of money every year on payroll and, in general, find ways to fall short. The ballpark itself, however, in no way falls short of its promise. It’s cool, it’s shiny, it’s a hot ticket. It’s the place to see and be seen. And yet, unlike its crosstown rival Yankee Stadium which was (rightfully) skewered for luxury prices, CitiField is fairly affordable yet affords you the prestige of saying that you enjoyed a game there. The huge video boards and ads rival the visual pollution of Times Square, but plenty of people love how big and loud New York is. And if some people are willing to pay $8 for the privilege of drinking Bud Light — when you can pay just as much for a vastly superior Hoeggarden — then CitiField is succeeding in making anything you do there feel like a luxury.

Safeco Field: Let the good times Ichi-roll!

Safeco Field: Let the good times Ichi-roll!

SAFECO FIELD, HOME OF THE SEATTLE MARINERS

In a word: Fun.

Seattle is a great sports town without the luxury of a lot of good teams, and its Sonics hoops team was recently stolen by a bunch of businessmen from Oklahoma City. Perhaps because the Mariners and Seahawks were mediocre for so long, Emerald City franchises learned to sell much more than the game. According to folklore, after all, Seattle is where The Wave started. And so Safeco Field gives you majestic views of Puget Sound, more in-game contests than most major-league games, odd distractions like the scoreboard hydro races and affordable regional/cultural cuisine (Ichi-roll, anyone?). When I visited, a large group of Japanese fans wearing Ichiro jerseys appeared to be having the time of their lives. And that, more than anything (even winning!), is what you want for a night out at the ballpark.

Alliance Stadium: Good seats, sights still available.

Alliance Stadium: Good seats, sights still available.

ALLIANCE STADIUM, HOME OF THE SYRACUSE CHIEFS (AAA MINORS)

In a word: Aspirational.

Just as the players on the Chiefs aspire to make the big leagues for parent club the Washington Nationals (or perhaps another, better team), so does Alliance Stadium seem to aspire to be something better. Caught between trying to serve up a major-league calibre experience and the corny promotions of minor-league ballparks, its brand is less certain than other parks. You score a box seat for $10 only to fork over $5.50 for a midrange beer. Most nights the crowd is small and even the exhortations of the scoreboards and announcers can’t lift it. As a bonus, the stadium sits near the mythical site of DestiNY USA, a much-promised mall/theme park/pipedream sold to transform the region if only its owner could get anyone else to pay for it. So the ballpark, the team, the city looks to break out of its own identity issues. Like many parts of Central New York itself, Alliance Stadium has potential with an eye cast towards opportunities for improvement.

Falcon Park: Little Leaguers on the field for the National Anthem? Sure.

Falcon Park: Little Leaguers on the field for the National Anthem? Sure.

FALCON PARK, HOME OF THE AUBURN DOUBLEDAYS (CLASS A MINORS)

In a word: Community.

Most Doubledays players don’t have much of a shot of making the majors. The cheesy between-inning fare includes arm-wrestling contests, racing a mascot, musical chairs. Little Leaguers take the field with the players for the National Anthem. Its most popular promotion is Dollar Beer and Hot Dog Night on Thursdays. That these are all embraced by the ballpark, the team and the community show everyone remembers baseball is more than just a game. I attended a Doubledays game a couple days after a Chiefs contest, and the latter had a larger, livelier, happier crowd. I sat with someone from Auburn and ended up getting upgraded to box seats right behind the home dugout. Most regular Doubledays fans know half the crowd in the ballpark. Folks ask each other how the kids are doing, how work was this week. Going to a Doubledays game is like attending a community picnic … one that happens to include a baseball game.

Intentionally or unintentionally, stadium experiences say a lot about both a team’s business ethos and the community it calls home. If you’re involved in any kind of brand marketing, what do your environment and customer experiences say about you?

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