Recently, I spoke at Social Media Breakfast about Using Social Media to Build a Movement (Even Without a “Real” Budget or Staff).
We covered many topics and concepts, but the one that seemed to garner the most buzz was the concept of the Digital Guide.
So let’s break it down.
What is a Digital Guide - An Overview
A Digital Guide should offer everything that you supporters (more on defining your supporters below) need to help you tell your story. They are typically created for a particular event or campaign.
Let’s say your company (“Sneakz”) makes and sells tennis shoes. You are having a grand opening for a new location. You want buzz online. Your official social channels are of course going to be posting about the event in advance and, once it starts, promoting how great it is going. But official accounts ≠ buzz, no matter how often you post or how great your content is. Buzz is what happens when many parties all come together to post about something.
What Goes Into a Digital Guide
First of all, you need to give the details of the event. Who, What, When, Where, Why.
Is there an RSVP link or a place to buy tickets? Do people need to reserve their new Sneakz in advance or can they just show up and buy them? If there is pertinent information, share it.
Give the reader the context to understand the event from 30,000 feet. The story of the day isn’t that you are opening a new store -- it’s that you are growing! Or that you are entering a new market. Or that people are so excited about your company, one store just wasn’t enough to contain your product.
The better your supporters understand how you see this day, the easier it will be for them to help tell the story you want to be told.
Share who your partners are, what time it starts, the address of the new store. If it’s something people should know, put it in the guide.
But Who Are My Partners?
The company that makes your laces by hand. The mall into which you’ll be moving. The online store selling some exclusive design of your Sneakz.
Who are the companies/organizations/brands, etc., without which you couldn’t thrive? Those are your partners.
Where Are You Online?
If you want people to write about you online, make sure they know how they can find you. Share your handles and relevant social media platforms. If you are working with a younger audience, you probably don’t have to explain how to use your tags (@s). If you are releasing a new line of orthopedic shoes and are hoping to target baby boomers, you might need to offer some instructional sections.
The question you should be asking when constructing your guide is: what do our supporters need to join us in telling our story?
What’s Your Hashtag (#)?
You should have a brand hashtag. Something you are encouraging your customers to use when they want to show off their #Sneakz. Or maybe it’s more personalized: #MySneakz. Or more active: #GetSneakz. Whatever your overarching hashtag is, include it.
If you have crafted a hashtag for this specific event, share that as well. Maybe you created a hashtag for anytime a store opens: #SneakzToYou. Or you could go hyper-specific: #SneakzMadisonEast.
Don’t just share your hashtag(s), but give examples of how they can be used.
Encourage people to create their own content, to add pictures or videos, to get clever–so long as they tag you and include your hashtag(s), a positive post is a great post!
Distributing Your Digital Guide (Who Are My Supporters?)
It’s an internal document. DO NOT publish it on your website or to your social media channels. Rather share it with your employees, interns, rapid response team, top-level fans, volunteers, etc.
Distribute this guide with anyone who will (or should) actively be working with you to tell your story throughout the event or campaign.
A Story Comes in Three Parts
Make sure to remind your supporters that every story has a beginning, a middle AND an end. Remind them (again and again) to tag you and include hashtags in EVERY post. Give sample content for each of the three.
Creating and sharing a Digital Guide is not the end of telling your story… it’s the beginning!
You should be actively monitoring social media for both mentions of your brand and usage of your hashtag. If people are posting, engage with them.
As long as you keep asking yourself what your community needs to tell your story, and including or excluding information/samples/information accordingly, you are doing it right. There isn’t one correct Digital Guide, there’s only the one that works for you.
Create a guide for your next event. Learn from it. Tweak it as needed for future events. Learn from what worked AND from what did not. Ask your supporters what else they need to support you.
You might find it worth holding trainings, especially for staff and interns. If someone doesn’t have a Twitter or a Facebook account, they probably won’t create one just to tweet about you. Unless you help them to do so! Never underestimate the power of working with someone on their journey into social media. Trainings are an investment that will pay for themselves many, many times over.
Need a staff training or help creating a Digital Guide ? Drop me a line. These are services I offer. Or just have some questions about finishing touches or need a fresh set of eyes to help you see what you missed? I can help you there as well.
Continuously ask what your supporters need and then give it to them. They are your best asset for creating buzz and telling your story.
I get emails from all kinds of people, businesses and organizations. I love the art of the email, so I subscribe to many lists. Of course, this list includes numerous candidates running for President in the 2016 cycle, both Democratic and Republican.
Amongst the list of people I get emails from is Hillary Clinton. Or at least, I try to get emails from her. I have subscribed to her list on several occasions, and for some reason, I continue to be excluded (maybe I should start to take it personally?!).
On Friday, February 5th, I signed up for her email list—AGAIN. I was immediately thanked for my support and taken to a landing page asking me to contribute to her campaign.
[For those of you not familiar with the term landing page, the idea is simple. It's a single webpage that a user is taken to when clicking on a specific link. It can be from a Facebook post, a Google ad, an email, an online sign-up or the like.]
This is the obvious next step in the funnel for any candidate: The people who want to hear from a candidate -- in their inboxes and on an ongoing basis -- are by far going to be the most likely to give money to that candidate.
But here was the landing page to which I was redirected:
It thanks me, offers me a range of amounts to give, doesn’t confuse me with numerous asks or calls-to-action (Pro Tip: a sure-fire killer of any ask is to be surrounded with numerous other asks!). So what IS the problem with this landing page?
It’s February of 2016. Voting has already taken place in Iowa, and we are days away from the New Hampshire primary. Three of five democratic candidates have dropped out of the race and there have been countless debates, town halls, campaign events, tv appearances and so much more. And yet this landing page is asking me to “be one of the first people to support Hillary’s campaign.”
ONE OF THE FIRST?!?!
What is going on in the Hillary campaign that so few people have contributed, a year into her campaign?
Obviously, this isn’t true. Clinton has raised tens of millions of dollars over the last year, from big and small donors alike. But this landing page apparently hasn’t been updated in some time.
The lesson of this post is simple -- a landing page needs to be updated as often as your ask. A year ago, this would have been a strong ask. Today, this makes the Clinton camp look weak, or at the very least disorganized.
The worst part is that nothing on this page even needs to be updated, save for the ask. The picture and the “select an amount” are still applicable, a year later. Change the text and this page is good to go.
A good habit to get into is to regularly go through any processes you expect your audience to go through, and to update them as necessary.
Not sure what your landing page should say? Or have another question about messaging or engaging your community? Drop me a line, let’s chat.
Say it ten times: "if it didn't happen on social media, it didn't happen."
Then say it a few more times, just for good measure. Make sure it's fully ingrained.
Then incorporate this simple lesson into your digital strategy.
If it didn't happen on social media, it didn't happen.