Astronaut Chris Hadfield has successfully returned from a 5-month mission as commander aboard the ISS and has undoubtedly inspired a generation through his unprecedented use of social media and content creation.
When reviewing the history of his busy orbital publication calendar, it became clear that there are many important lessons and reminders about social media and content development that businesses, brands, marketers and advertisers can benefit from.
Here are 7 things that stood out to me from Chris’ success on social media:
1 – Even a tweeting astronaut needs a little help from a social media team
Chris’s son, Evan, was responsible for helping his father carry on conversations, post updates, link to related content, and more.
Establishing, nurturing and engaging social media communities can be significant work and can benefit from having multiple people not only contributing to day-to-day management, but also to strategy, content ideas, creative approaches to using social media platforms, content curation, production management, and more.
2 – It’s okay to laugh a little
With relative frequency, Chris posted updates that were light and humourous.
Humour is a fantastic way to entertain an audience, demonstrate personality, add variety to your content mix, make yourself seem approachable, and attract new audience members to your community.
3 – Even if you’re in space, you should remember that your audience is on Earth
Virtually all of Chris’ social media updates satiated the appetite of average people to learn the fundamentals of what it is like to experience living in space.
Oftentimes, the best performing educational content will not be the most advanced. The reason why most people seek out information online and through social media networks is because they don’t have a deep understanding – such as formal education or vast experience – of the subject matter that is of interest to them. Therefore, they’ll benefit most from what you might consider to be fundamental.
4 – Plan ahead to optimize your production value
It is clear that some of the content Chris produced while on the ISS was pre-planned, and it showed in the production value (view Chris Hadfield’s fantastic reimagining of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” here).
Planning the creation of content affords you the ability to think about optimal production techniques and processes, refine ideas, edit for superior quality, be comfortable and confident in your performance (if applicable), assemble a team to assist you, and achieve greater production value than would otherwise be possible.
5 – Involve your community of Earthlings
Throughout his mission, Chris responded to questions, video conferenced, and encouraged his audience to engage with his content.
It seems a bit silly to say, but don’t forget that social media should be social. Businesses and brands frequently operate in a vacuum on social media, treating it more like a broadcast platform than a tool through which to interact and engage with their audiences. Be social and get your audience involved.
6 – What seems mundane to you, can be fascinating to others
Many of Chris Hatfield’s most popular social media content is of his everyday experiences in space, which proved to be fascinating.
You are an expert in your field for a reason. You have experience and knowledge that others do not possess. You probably are chalk full of information, ideas, and experiences that your audience would find fascinating for you to share, even if to you it seems mundane and relatively basic.
7 – Add value by offering a new perspective
When you think of an astronaut engaging an audience on social media from space, you probably think they’ll be focused on the stars, planets, the vastness of space, and more otherworldly things. While Chris could have published content about these things, he chose to focus much of his attention back at Earth, effectively giving us a new perspective on ourselves.
Sometimes there is huge value to offer by giving your audience a new perspective on subject matter that is familiar to them. Whether you are creating content, or refining the value proposition of your business, try not to overlook what your consumers might think they already know, and try offering them a new view on the familiar. It can be extremely powerful.
What are your most memorable moments of Chris Hadfield’s mission and activity on social media?
Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial, it would be fun to geek out with you about this.
It can be beneficial for businesses of any size to encourage everyone in the organization to create and capture social media content. Increased diversity, fresh perspective, capitalizing on opportunities, having a sense of involvement and contribution, greater volume, shared responsibility, and better quality are just some of the benefits that can be experienced by involving an entire staff in content creation, versus the onus being placed squarely on one person’s shoulders.
The trouble with this approach to content creation is to do with the practicality of curating content from a potentially large number of sources. Also, encouraging the creation of content that is specifically for your organization can be a headache to say the least.
So, how can these challenges be overcome? Try using Twitter hashtags.
Choose a Hashtag
Select a hashtag for your coworkers or employees to use on all of the relevant content they are posting to their personal social graphs. This will allow you to easily follow and search for this content, and won’t require major adjustments to their natural use of Twitter.
Monitor the Hashtag
Set up a stream in HootSuite or TweetDeck to monitor the content your coworkers or employees are posting and tagging using the hashtag you’ve selected. This should give you a steady stream of relevant content to post on your organization’s social media properties.
Curate, Schedule and Post the Best Content
After you’ve got your streams in HootSuite or TweetDeck set up, all that will be left is curating the very best content that is being published, editing the content you’d like to repost, and then scheduling or posting your content.
By using Twitter hashtags to curate relevant content that your coworkers or employees are creating, you’re streamlining the process of content creation, collection, editing, and publishing by tapping their natural use of social media.
All of this said, you shouldn’t expect that just because you’ve organized a Twitter hashtag that everyone in your organization will automatically become a content producing machine. However, this approach will cater to those individuals who regularly use social media and will naturally be your top content contributors, and perhaps because of the ease of contributing, could result in a greater number of contributions from people who would otherwise be less keen to get involved.
How do you curate content that is being produced from various sources within your organization?
Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
As you may or may not know, there are a number of Twitter search operators that can greatly enhance the value of your Twitter search results. If you haven’t used them, or didn’t know about the full range of search operators, you may be surprised at how powerful a Twitter search can be.
You can review the full list of operators here, but following are a list of operators that I’ve found to be particularly helpful:
Placing quotation marks around your search returns results containing the exact phrase within. For example, “social media marketing” will yield results containing the exact term ‘social media marketing’.
I’ve found quotation marks to be incredibly helpful with increasing the relevance of searches for any phrase, name, brand, consumer anecdote, or anything that is longer than a single word. Search for social media and you’ll get results about grade 8 social dances as well as acrylic paint. Search for “social media” and your search results will be much more in line with what you’re really looking for.
Using the word OR between search terms produces results containing your first search term, or your second search term, or both. For example, social OR media, will yield results containing the words social OR media OR social media.
There are a couple of cases where I find the OR operator to be particularly helpful. The first is when I’m searching for highly related search terms and I predict that one term versus the other will not deteriorate the relevance of my results. Also, there are times that I’ll predict that people might describe a single thing I’m searching for in different ways and I’d like the results to show both.
Precede a search term with a dash that you do not want to show up in your results. For example, social –media, will yield results for the word ‘social’, but not ‘media’.
The dash is an incredibly useful search operator. I frequently use this to eliminate commonly associated words from my searches to really focus my results. Frequently, I’ll conduct searches for chatter about a given organization, but don’t want results that would be associated with one of their business units. To minimize results about unrelated business units, I’ll simply eliminate keywords that I anticipate will cloud my search.
Use this search operator following your desired keywords to limit results to those generated by people in the specified location. For example, social media near:“toronto”, will yield results for social media from users in Toronto.
As you know, Twitter is a pretty massive social media network, which means people are tweeting about all sorts of different things, from all sorts of different places. While this is amazing for a multitude of reasons, when you’re looking to find the most relevant information, connect with people who are geographically close to you, or monitor conversations on a business in a localized area, the ‘near’ operator is amazing for filtering your search results. You can narrow your results by country, city or town.
A question mark following your search term will show tweets that ask a question. For example, social media marketing ?, will yield questions that contain the search term ‘social media marketing’.
I’m frequently asked how to go about engaging with people on Twitter. Given the sheer number of people on the platform, and the fact that we frequently follow, and are followed by people we don’t necessarily know from the real world, connecting with others can be overwhelming and intimidating. An easy way to engage with people on Twitter is to conduct a search for questions people have that fall within your area of expertise and – you guessed it – answer them.
Combine Search Operators
As powerful as Twitter’s search operators can be for refining your search results, try combining them for even better, more focused results.
If you find yourself repeatedly searching the same terms, Twitter allows you to save up to 6 searches for quick access. Saved searches can be unsaved to accommodate a new saved search.
Popular Twitter clients, HootSuite and TweetDeck, allow you to setup dedicated streams with search results. This can be an incredibly effective way to stay in tune with the pulse of your audience, what is important to them, and what they are saying about your brand, to list a few common uses. When setting up your search streams, remember that all of the Twitter search operators will also work here.
Do you have any Twitter search tips you’d like to share?
What search operators do you find to be particularly useful?
As always, it would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Over the last year or so there has been a shift by most major social media platforms to become increasingly visual. Facebook introduced the cover image, Google+ introduced the cover photo, the popularity of Pinterest continues to explode, and now Twitter has introduced some updates of its own.
Last week Twitter launched a few key changes to profile pages including:
- The introduction of header images
- Allowing greater control over background images
- Giving greater prevalence to photos in the side bar
Twitter profile pages have instantly become more visual with the introduction of header images (dimensions are 520 x 260px for browser-based Twitter). Similar to Facebook cover images (check out one of my previous posts on creative thought-starters for how to use Facebook cover images), Twitter header images can be used in several ways. 5 creative thought-starters follow:
1 – Branding
Obviously, the new header image provides an additional opportunity to clearly brand your Twitter profile. Get creative and design something that works well for your brand, but be mindful to give your profile picture and bio some breathing room.
2 – Campaign Integration
If you are running a mass media advertising campaign, use the header image to carry the idea over to Twitter and give some context to campaign-related tweets.
3 – Promotions
Include details of a Twitter-based promotion with a CTA in your header image to reward your current followers and acquire new ones. Remember, unlike Facebook and Google+, Twitter’s promotional guidelines are incredibly lenient, so be sure to take advantage of this with a creative Twitter promotion.
4 – Product/Service Launch
Launch a new product or service by featuring a photograph and critical information in your header image. Additionally, you could ask your followers to write 120 character reviews (so that you’ve got 20 characters to RT the review) in your header.
5 – Community Spotlight
Give some control of your brand to your community by asking them to design your weekly Twitter header image. When a new image is posted, give a shout-out to the community member who submitted it.
With the latest Twitter update, we have been given greater control over the justification of background images – we can now justify left, centre, or right. While these justification options will yield creative opportunity, centre justifying an image will allow messaging to be seen more predictably on both sides of your profile, rather than just in the left margin.
Photos have now been given greater prevalence in the side bar. The position of the photo stream has been shifted higher above the fold, the size of thumbnails has increased, there are now 6 thumbnails instead of 4, and even if you haven’t tweeted a picture, empty thumbnails appear on your profile. I would imagine these changes will result in a greater number of pictures being tweeted.
How have you used your Twitter header image? Do you have any creative ideas for how this could be used by businesses and brands? Let me know in the comments.
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