Six Incredible Cave Drawings of Kittens at Play

Communications Social media

Article by Tim Colbert, public relations director at Shift Collaborative

While every generation thinks they invented sex, I’m starting to worry that a lot of our younger marketing and PR peers feel that they’ve invented communication. I blame social media.

kitten-cave-drawings-communications-trendsKids, I’ve got a message for you — social media is the latest but by no means the last in communications trends. From the days of the cave drawings in Lascaux, France; to Guttenberg’s printing press; to the advent of The Camel Caravan we human beings are veritable champeens at coming up with new and, one hopes, better ways to spread the good word.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities social media provides. I have helped clients launch new products, deepen customer outreach, hasten the sales cycle, and secure new business through the smart utilization of these powerful tools.

But tools they be. They are vehicles.

It’s Content that fuels and drives all the hotly sought after views, likes and click-heres. Nifty infographics, “Six Keys to Success” articles, compelling video, irresistible “‘What ‘Game of Thrones Cast Member Are You”-type questionnaires — this is content that in one form or another predates the social media era.

The feedback is faster, the measurement more refined, and the ability to engage in real-time conversations are all greatly, happily, enhanced through social media.

But it’s only a tool. One’s very presence on social media is no substitute for cleverness, story-telling, and a well thought-out and creatively executed message strategy.

Let me put it another way. The Big Brands shelled out an estimated $4 million for each 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl. While some of those ads generated massive social media attention (Coca-Cola) and a few may linger in the memory banks (The Cheerios Family), did any of the other ads have any real staying power? As in the kind that would justify such a significant investment?

Just because one advertises during the Super Bowl doesn’t mean that the ad will be any good, will connect with consumers, will, in a word, work. Likewise, one’s mere presence in social media channels ensures one thing and one thing only– that the Cloud just got a bit more crowded.

Social media. What's all the fuss about?

Marketing Strategy Social media

If you’re not using social media for your company right now, maybe you have a reason.  Possibly it’s because you haven’t had the time. Maybe you just don’t see how social media can impact your company. Maybe you haven’t been wowed by the results.  In this article, we will show you some extreme examples that hopefully will ‘wow’ you with the possibilities of what social media can offer.

We realize that the companies we are about to cite have built a large following. They have sizable teams of people working for them to grow and keep followers. They have brand recognition. But, they also have quick-thinking social media teams that react (literally within minutes) to current events taking place. And, they use social media to get a message out to the masses for FREE.  The last two pieces are things any business can do.

How social media can be great for your company’s image

During the Super Bowl, an event witnessed by 108.7 million viewers according to this Huffington post article, you probably know that the lights went out in part of the Superdome. The game was suspended for 34 minutes. The post, 6 Brands That Moved Fast During Super Bowl Blackout, highlights some of the big brands’ sharp moves to address the situation.

The power went out at 5:38 pm PT (8:38 pm ET).  The two most successful tweets posted during the blackout that the above post highlights are Audi and Oreo’s. At 8:40pm ET, Audi posted the following tweet:


This one tweet yielded 9710 retweets and 3218 favorites. At 8:48pm ET, Oreo posted the below tweet and gained 16,067 retweets and 6,159 favorites on Twitter.


Let that sink in for a moment. Those two individual tweets combined had a total of over 25,000 posts and over 9,000 favorites. And that doesn’t count the number of manual retweets (those in which a Twitter user RTs a post with their own comments before or after, usually with the original post either in quotation marks or marked with RT somewhere) that the post received. Nor does it count the people that talked about the tweets without directly quoting or linking to the post.

A little bit of math

According to this study from, the average twitter user has 208 followers. The combined total of followers from Oreo and Audi notwithstanding, the potential reach of those two tweets would be 25,777 x 208=5,361,616. Audi has 314,085 followers and Oreo has 75,168 = a total of 389,253 (stats as of 2/13/2013). Their posts reached more than a potential of 13 times their (already large) existing following base. Now, we realize that some of these followers overlap, and that not every person that follows each of these accounts would have seen it, but those numbers are still pretty staggering.

Imagine you’re a small business that is starting up your social media. Let’s say you have 50 followers so far.  In comparison, it would be like your tweet being seen by potentially over 650 people. Audi’s post didn’t involve any setup, any props, any cameras. Oreo’s was a very simply put together tweet that probably didn’t cost a lot to set up or create.

How not using social media can reflect negatively on your company

Folks on social media are very much in search of instant gratification. This is a large part of the reason why those Super Bowl tweets were so hugely successful. Users grab on to things as they’re happening and ride them out. Fast forward to the State of the Union address (#SOTU), there was a moment during the Republican rebuttal address given by Marco Rubio (@MarcoRubio) in which Marco paused to take a sip of Poland Spring water. Sounds inane enough, right?

The amount of social media attention this drew was far beyond anything anyone would have expected.  According to this Huffington Post article, “Within the hour, #watergate was trending, a Lil’ John remix was in the works, and Rubio himself had even tweeted out a photo of the bottle.” There were fake Twitter accounts being created pretending to be the bottle that Marco drank from, and those fake accounts were tweeting and getting retweeted.

What was Poland Springs’ response? They didn’t even seem to know anything had happened. It took more than 14 hours for them to post an official response on their Facebook page. There are two Twitter accounts that appear to be in their name, one of which hasn’t been used since 2011, the other since 2010. While the posted response was appropriate, it was not timed appropriately to really cash in on the momentum that social media could have given it.

And then there’s this:


The fact that Poland Spring didn’t have a timely response drew negative publicity, despite the fact they had no way of knowing it was going to happen. Andrew has close to 70,000 followers.  And he’s not the only one to react in this way. Many articles and blog posts (not to mention tweets) address the fact that Poland Spring missed the boat. In fact, this article from Brand Channel goes on to point out the volume of the tweets going out during the course of the evening (9200 tweets per minute at the point of the now infamous water bottle sipping) from which Poland Spring could have easily thrived.

What’s your next step

So – we’ve told you why being active in social media can potentially be great, and we’ve told you why not being active in social media can potentially be detrimental. How do you think current events could make an impact in your organization’s social media feed?

FAQ: Should my organization create a Facebook Page or Facebook Group?

Social media

Q: I’m on the leadership team of a nonprofit, and we want to use Facebook to connect with potential donors and volunteers. Should we create a Page or a Group?

A: If you’re creating the official presence of an entity on Facebook — whether an organization or a business — you should create a Page.

Here’s how Facebook describes the difference between Pages and Groups:

Like a friend’s profile, Facebook Pages enable public figures, businesses, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. Unlike your profile, Facebook Pages are visible to everyone on the internet by default. You, and every person on Facebook, can connect with these Pages by becoming a fan and then receive their updates in your News Feed and interact with them.

Authenticity is at the core of Facebook. Just as profiles should represent real people and real names, so too should Pages for entities. Only the official representatives of a public figure, business or organization should create a Facebook Page. …

While Pages were designed to be the official profiles for entities, such as celebrities, brands or businesses, Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos and share related content. …

(Thanks to @broganmedia for tweeting about this explanation.)

Pages have several features that Groups don’t. They can import an RSS feed into their Notes, so any blog posts your organization’s site generates could automatically be posted on your Facebook Page; they display visit, interaction, and fan demographic stats to Page administrators; and they have more flexibility in adding apps (including fundraising apps and store apps) and displaying information.

The next question we often hear is, “What if we already have a Group and want to switch to a Page?” There’s no easy way to make the transition. But you should transition anyway, to get the benefits of Pages. The sooner you make the change, the better.

Here’s what to do: Create your new Page, add information like your logo, photos, blog feed, and other content, then send a message to all the members of your Group that you are switching to a Page and the Group will be deleted. Invite the Group members to join you at the new Page; include a link to the Page so they find it easily. Send a second reminder about the switch a week later, and after two weeks send a final notice and delete the Group.

Then, work on creating great content and inviting participation on your new Page, so fans have a reason to visit often and interact with your organization and with each other.