Social media strategy is as simple as a brain and twenty-five quid

I'm sceptical about the value of social media consultancy.

Hamish Thompson dons protective clothing in anticipation of sustained criticism
Hamish Thompson dons protective clothing in anticipation of sustained criticism
As tools become simpler, mystique is fading.  Social is all about the message.  

According to Omnibus polling for KANA Software, the average consumer is adept at using six social channels.  

Using them and measuring outcomes isn’t difficult.  Social media strategy = good ideas + a few quid. That’s it.

Last week I decided we’d demonstrate.   

We set ourselves this brief: "With our brains and £25, create a couple of ideas that will (a) spread like wildfire on social media, (b) add value to our social communities, (c) build understanding of what Houston PR does, (d) generate new business leads, (e) deliver durable assets, (f) generate media interest that will drive further social engagement."
Here’s what we did:
 
STEP 1 – Tuesday last week
We bought polifiller.com. Using code that we developed for our PR buzzword removal tool, we created an online tool that cuts tired old phrases out of politicians’ speeches. It is two bits of coconut tied together with string.
 
STEP 2 – Wednesday
We wrote to political correspondents inviting them to submit their own phrases.
 
STEP 3 – later on Wednesday
The Today Programme, Daily Politics, World Service and Pienaar’s Politics (Radio 5 Live) invited me on to discuss Polifiller and why we’d done it.
 
STEP 4 – Thursday
Traffic to the site (and ours) rocketed. Lots of social media chatter about it.
 
STEP 6 – Monday this week.
We still have £12.50 left. What next? We buy pretweet.co.uk. The new site, built with the same code, hacks annoying terms out of tweets.
 
STEP 7
We consult friends and ask for phrases that annoy them. The list includes "all the cheese", "all the meat", "asking for a friend", "amazeballs", "awesome", "BWAHAHAHAHA" "bantz", "best. girlfriend. ever.", "broken the internet", "cheeky kfc", "epic fail", "haterz", "hilaire", "hivemind", "i am in you", "interwebs", "just saying", "kitteh", "klaxon", "kthxbai", "more sleeps", "nom o’clock", "said noone ever", "send coffee", "so jokes", "so much win", "so that happened", "stay classy", "super excited", "the interweb", "the internetz", "wins the internet", "wow. just wow.", "yay" and "zomg".
 
STEP 8 – Yesterday.
The site is live. We announce it. The Independent and Metro report it, reference us and include links. We send to our UK and US media and influencer lists. The story is on marketing blogs in the US. Traffic goes skyward. There are countless tweets of the link and chat.
 
STEP 9
The story gets a mention on BBC Breakfast this morning.
 
Results so far….
 
Traffic to our site has been up fivefold. Traffic to the new sites has rocketed. Goodwill gets us brand mentions on BBC output, which is remarkable for a PR agency.
Eyeballs and eardrums: more than ten million.
 
All of this for a bit of brain time and £25.

My point: as the medium becomes simpler, invest in the message.

If you spend money on social media consultancy, don’t spend it on dashboards that measure a morsel.

Your brand deserves more than that.

One grain of rice can be measured to death. And yet it remains one grain of rice. Message first, medium second.
Hamish Thompson is managing director of Houston PR

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