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.
Your business’ social media community can be an invaluable asset when working through product or service development.
The engagement and activation of your community can assist with virtually every stage of product development including idea generation, concept screening, concept development, commercial viability analysis, beta testing, and commercialization and launch.
There a huge number of ways that your community can contribute to product development, so I’ll just highlight a few to serve as thought-starters for the next time you plan to expand your product or service offerings.
Social listening for idea generation and analysis
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest give you the ability to listen to your consumers and those within your target demographic to learn about their wants and needs, what they are hoping for from you and your competition, what trends are relevant to your business, how your consumers use your products, and more.
Not only can this information be used for idea generation, but also it can be invaluable when analysing your ideas and developing criteria for screening the gold from the pyrite.
Polls and surveys for idea generation, screening, concept development, and testing commercial viability
Tools such as Facebook polls and Survey Monkey can be used to survey your social media communities and very specific sub-segments of your consumer base to dig deeper into specifics that will lead to strong idea generation and direct feedback to screen those ideas. The benefit of these tools is that you can ask participants very specific questions, resulting in very specific answers that should help to move your product/service development process forward.
Polls and surveys can also be used when you’re past the idea generation phase of your product development process to narrow in on desirable features, potential usage behaviour, identifying likely consumers for this new product/service, and more. All of this information can be invaluable when developing your concepts, testing for commercial viability, and moving into concept or beta testing.
Community involvement and feedback during iterative testing
Who better to test your products as they’re being developed and refined than individuals within your social media community? So long as you’re not developing a top-secret product offering, members of your community will likely be thrilled at the opportunity test and provide feedback on your latest products as they’re being developed. Depending on the category in which you compete, and the loyalty of your consumers, those chosen to participate may even see this as a reward.
Conversely, recruiting loyal members of your competition’s communities to test and provide feedback is a great way to gain a broader perspective on your concepts.
Launching with confidence, pre-established consumer excitement and anticipation
When it comes time to finally launch your new product, you’ll be able to do so with increased confidence that it will be a commercial success. Involving your social media audience will have helped to ensure that your product development efforts were focused on producing something that will be desirable.
Also, by involving your social media audience in the development of your product, you will have effectively pre-established consumer excitement and anticipation for your launch. Your product development process will have become a story that loyal and highly interested consumers will have followed, shared, and conversed with others about. Your product development can be incredibly effective for feeding your content pipeline.
Frequently the product development process is done in isolation, secrecy, and with limited consumer involvement. In a business landscape where consumers have increasing power and input into business and brands’ definition and success, it only seems logical to involve them when creating offerings for them.
How do you use social media as a part of your product or service development process?
If you have used social media for this purpose, what advantages have you experienced?
What difficulties have you experienced from trying to involve your audience?
It would be great to chat with you about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
The reality of social media and content marketing is such that no matter what business you are in, you are also in the publication business.
Publishing meaningful content is incredibly important for businesses to cultivate, maintain, and grow their business. A strong digital and social media presence can be a deciding factor for many consumers who are increasingly looking to digital and social platforms to assist them with their purchase decisions.
To develop a strong social media and digital presence, it is critical for businesses to create and sustain regular publication calendars.
The regularity that each business publishes content is really dependent on your respective audience and what platform you are publishing on. For some businesses this could mean publishing content several times per day, and for others it could mean once per month, or longer.
Regardless of how frequently you need to publish new content, it is absolutely necessary that you do so with dependability, and that the content you publish is strategically relevant to your business. Creating a publication calendar can assist with both of these things.
Following are a few of the reasons why creating and sustaining a regular publication calendar is imperative:
Keep consumers interested and involved with your business
Think about the websites and blogs that you visit on a daily basis. It’s likely that they’re constantly being updated with interesting content that is relevant to you. If those sites weren’t updated frequently and dependably, you probably wouldn’t have the same interest in them as you do.
When establishing a publication calendar for you your business or brand, ensure that you’re going to be providing new content frequently enough to keep your audience interested, engaged, and coming back for more.
Dominate search results
Search engines index some types of content independently. Blog posts and videos are prime examples of content formats that appear this way.
If your business or brand is producing content in accordance to a regular publication calendar, your business is going to be more likely to dominate search results for your business, industry, category, and related search terms. Ultimately this will lead to greater exposure, an influx of leads, and if you are able to convert, sales.
Feed your content pipeline
This is an obvious one, but still worth mentioning. Creating a publication calendar for your brand will help to keep content creators in your organization organized and focused on producing content on a regular and ongoing basis. This will result in a steady stream of material to feed your content pipeline.
Show consumers that you’re in business!
Have you ever arrived on a business’ website, blog, or social media network to see that their last content update was 7 months ago and thought, ‘I wonder if these guys are even in business anymore’?
Even if you haven’t thought exactly this, it leaves consumers with a negative impression of a business or brand when they appear to an ill-maintained digital or social media property. It can read as a lack of enthusiasm, dedication, or commitment to your business, which are all thoughts you don’t want your consumers to have.
The simple solve is – you guessed it – to create a regular publication calendar and stick with it. If you’re going to be publishing new content relatively infrequently, it might be worthwhile communicating your schedule in a highly visible place such as your ‘About’ page so visitors will understand when they should check back in for new content.
Continuous improvement and provision of value
Another great benefit to creating and maintaining a regular publication calendar is that it will keep you thinking about your business, consumers, category, products, services, innovation, and any number of ways you can provide value to your consumers through social media.
This will force you to stay relevant, to develop and grow the way you think about all aspects of your business, and your consumers will thank you for it by seeing you as a trusted source of value and leader in your category. Results of this can include increased brand affinity, loyalty, strengthened purchase intent, and more.
There are a huge number of benefits that publishing content on a regular and ongoing basis can afford. Creating and executing against a well-crafted publication calendar can help to keep you, your social media team, and social media contributors organized and working to maximize success.
How does a publication calendar help your organization stay organized on social media?
Have you ever had a negative experience from not employing a publication calendar?
What are the greatest benefits that you have experienced from executing against a publication calendar?
It would be great to discuss this with you further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Real-time social media marketing can be incredibly powerful as it adds elements of context and relevance to your social media content and audience interactions.
The challenge for many organizations is that existing processes can stand in the way of engaging and interacting with audiences in a timely manner. Process by its nature takes time, and virtually strips organizations of being able to act in real-time.
Opportunity identification, legal reviews, running approvals up the ladder, creative ideation, risk assessment, production, organizing and rallying a team to create content are a few of the factors that can grind execution of the best intentions to a halt.
All of these components are important, but to capitalize on real-time opportunities on social media, certain planning and preparation will need to be in place. Also, in some cases, concessions or modifications might need to be made to your organization’s regular processes.
Following are a few suggestions and ideas for how you can prepare your organization to be equipped engage in real-time on social media:
Pre-establish roles and responsibilities
Pre-establishing roles and responsibilities will keep your team organized, focused, and ready to act. When an opportunity is identified you’ll be happy to have your team chosen and roles established so you can get straight to producing something amazing instead of figuring out who’s going to be doing what.
Set guardrails as a team
Consider working with all reviewers and decision makers on a set of guidelines to abide by for any real-time social media marketing efforts. Chances are that there is a fairly well defined set of dos and don’ts that can be applied across the board, regardless of context. If these are set from the get-go, you might be able to reduce, or even eliminate, review timelines down the road.
Organize an expedited process where possible
Getting all decision makers, reviewers, and legal advisers on board with expediting their respective processes to pass a piece of content is of utmost importance. If there are parts of your existing process that just can’t be changed, ensure that everyone involved understands just how critical timing is for real-time marketing to be effective, and perhaps they’ll be able to help with determining how to expedite their contribution to the process.
Create and publish now, apologize later
The fastest way to work through process is simply to eliminate it. Depending on your organization’s tolerance for risk, you may find that the best approach to real-time social media marketing process is to virtually ignore the bottlenecks, publish your content without all previously necessary reviews and approvals, and should anything go awry, work to solve that problem later. Hopefully if you have done due diligence to establish guardrails, you can avoid any issues.
Open your lines of communication
One of the main points of real-time social media marketing is to open the lines of communication between your business and your consumers to carry on a dialogue or conversation in near real-time. To facilitate this, your internal lines of communication will also need to be opened and streamlined. Save yourself precious time by finding opportunities to cut through hierarchy, politics, and any other circumstances that tend to slow or cloud internal communications.
Gain the support of senior leadership
Having someone in a senior leadership position as a strong supporter of your team and efforts will greatly ease your ability to act swiftly and minimize roadblocks. If you are not in a senior leadership position yourself, and need to gain the support of someone who is, try to recruit him or her by demonstrating the value of real-time marketing, and by showing them how it can be executed without spiraling out of control.
In order for real-time social media marketing to be practiced effectively, processes need to be adjusted, and in some cases, recreated. Every business will have unique needs for process, so you’ll need to determine what works best for your organization and adjust accordingly.
What processes does your organization have in place to facilitate real-time social media marketing?
How do you work through process in a timely fashion to allow for real-time social media marketing efforts?
It would be great to chat with you about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial