Jason Falls

Jason Falls

My house is an easy, 20-minute, rush hour commute from my office via the Interstate. Unless it’s raining or there’s an accident somewhere along the way, I can zip into work on a fairly predictable path.

Tuesday was one of those accident days, so I took the back way, along River Road, a beautiful, almost tree-covered path along the Ohio River to downtown Louisville. The drive reminded me that our path to finding the right social media solution for our clients or organizations can also become routine, stayed and predictable. Every now and then we need to veer off the beaten path to ensure we’re seeing the forest as well as the trees … and the birds, the chipmunks and the kids waiting for the bus.

And it was all yellow...

A field of yellow along River Road in Louisville. Image by merfam via Flickr

Regardless of your individual approach to finding the right solution for your communications problems using social media, most people will, at some point in the process, consider blogs, Facebook and Twitter. And those three tools may be the right solutions for your needs. Hopefully, you think beyond the easy landing places and find other channels that make sense for your goals. Still, we tend to follow the same path to determining what’s right or wrong for our clients or organizations. Perhaps we think our “proprietary process” or methodology covers every base. Perhaps it’s the only process we know. Regardless, we wind up on the same Interstate, taking the same exit, stopping at the same intersections and parking in the same lot every time.

So to take your strategic thinking off the beaten path and ensure that the ideas, plans and tactics you’re recommending to achieve your social media or communications goals don’t become stayed and predictable, here are some quick ideas to expand your thinking. This isn’t to say you should include this thinking in your final recommendations or action plans, especially if they do not help you achieve your communications goals. But putting yourself through the motions of these processes will give you bigger and better ideas to better round out your strategy:

  1. Design a plan that does NOT include Facebook, Twitter or a corporate blog.
  2. Look at your Facebook strategy. Apply it to MySpace and fix what won’t work there.
  3. Assume your most passionate consumers are only engaged on forums and message boards. Develop five tactics to reach them.
  4. Imagine your target audience is blind or deaf and find methods and tools to communicate with them successfully.
  5. Write a Wikipedia entry about your product, service or campaign. Now re-write it without the B.S. as a consumer would.
  6. Take 10 pictures that, without captions, visualize what you’re trying to communicate. Upload them to Flickr as a set and look at them every day.
  7. Write a news report about the success of your campaign, starting with the headline that you achieved your goal and write the success story in reverse chronological order, imagining the blueprint for your success.
  8. Go find a random, niche social network outside the realm of your target’s footprint and find a meaningful way to reach that audience with your message.
  9. Ask yourself, “What would make the boring, old clerk at the corner store tell me about this?” Find a way to weave that in to your strategy.
  10. Have the “What Are We Missing” brainstorming session outside, sitting on the grass while having a picnic.

Those are just my random thoughts after driving the pretty path to work. What do you do to stand on the desk and change your perspective? Let the comments me our collection of idea-starting ideas.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • szwerink

    Very nice thoughts Jason! Will take this with me in my daily job! Thnx!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You're very welcome. Thanks for saying so!

  • http://redstaplerconsulting.net/ Gloria Bell

    Great thoughts Jason! Thank you. Nice to know that some of the things I try to do with each of my clients are a little “out of the box”. I will definitely be using some of your other tips. If we are not looking for the right avenues, beyond the obvious, to help our clients spread their message, we are doing them a disservice. Thank you for the tips how to open the creative side of our minds.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you for stopping by, Gloria. I'm sure you have some good thoughts to offer on the out of the box instigators as well. Perhaps you can share some of your thoughts with us, too! Keep on keepin' on!

  • DaveMurr

    Thinking outside the Twitter/Facebook box is important, and I wonder if many of us are getting stuck in that rut because, that is all the clients hear about – Twitter and Facebook. I've noticed an increase in demand for Facebook pages and I wonder if these tools garner so much attention because 1) That's all we talk about 2) These tools are free and 3) They are immediately accessible. Perhaps, as you stated, it is our responsibility to show our clients another path, but many may simply want the direct 20 minute route.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Dave. I would tend to agree that sometimes we're just serving our client's demands more so than needs. But it is incumbent upon us to find the most effective and efficient means to the end. Hopefully, we can balance both and make the client's here and now attention span happy while also accomplishing the more precision targeting for success.

  • http://twitter.com/allenmireles Allen Mireles

    Jason this is an awesome post. Very timely as I begin to build a plan for a new client…appreciate the helpful suggestions for going off the beaten path. Particularly idea number 7.

    Thanks so much!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Allen. Glad to be of service.

  • frankdickinson

    Great post Jason, as always. I fully admit that I'm in the rut of Facebook and Twitter as tools for Social media. Yeah i digg my stuff and stumble it too, but I definitely need an expansion.

    I'm heading outside this afternoon for one of those picnic planning sessions!

    Thanks for all you do!

    Frank

    BTW.. I lived in the St. Matthews area of Louisville – one beautiful city!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Frank. My in-laws are nestled in St. Matthews. Great part of town. Let me know if you're ever back here. I'll buy you a coffee somewhere.

  • http://detroit.fwix.com Jamie Favreau

    Thank you for your insight. I am learning and think people need to realize there are other networks for your organization to be part of. I personally started being active on message boards before they “allowed” me to be on Facebook. You need to create new ways to get your message across and sometimes they just aren't on the BIG 3 or 4. Plus, people would enjoy it more if the message wasn't being flooded on the same channel.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good thinking Jamie. It's funny how the more volatile conversation points (forums) can be approved by companies afraid of the conversations while normally tepid ones (Facebook) are off-limits. Good for you for pushing the envelope without tipping your hand. Heh.

  • http://www.whoislisalomas.com Lisa Lomas

    You have just given me a golden egg, thankyou.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Wow. High compliment. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristathomas Krista Thomas

    Super inspiring Jason. Thanks so much!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You're welcome. Thanks for the response.

  • Lifephoto

    Great insight on how to think out of the box. Thank you for the post!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, LP. Appreciate you saying so.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com/ Tom Martin

    Great post. I especially like #4… truly overlooked I think. One more I might suggest you add is: go talk to regular people who happen to use social media and ask them where they might expect or want your brand to interact with them.
    @TomMartin

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good add, Tom. Thanks for that!

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  • http://twitter.com/rokensa Rodolfo Salazar

    I like your post goes to the point and makes sense, I will implement some of your Ideas with one of my clients and let you know how it went

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Please do and thank you for stopping by!

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  • http://justinkownacki.blogspot.com Justin Kownacki

    Ironically, being innovative enough to find a SM solution that *doesn't* involve Facebook or Twitter would probably lose someone an account, since clients are only now aware of the existence of FB, etc. — telling them we can do x WITHOUT it might make some heads e'splode.

    Related: when is it detrimental to disrupt the disrupters?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I would tend to agree with you, Justin. If you don't take Facebook to the client, they might think you're nuts, but if you don't and can back it up with a logical, business reason why (i.e. – Your audience isn't engaged there.) you should be able to get by with it. Good thoughts, though. Thanks for chiming in.

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  • http://www.SiteDoublers.com/ John Hyde

    Very timely – thanks.

    Some great ideas on how to really 'think outside the box' instead of just talking about thinking outside the box. I like the idea of 'pretend that X does not exist: what would you do ?'

    There are some very large industry sectors where twitter and facebook are the wrong channels, but blogs, forums and even 'dead-tree' media will get results.

    Just one easy example: a lot of CEOs will be expecting you to have a Facebook and Twitter component. Why ? Because they have read about these things in a (gasp) newspaper.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffCole53 JeffCole53

    You are right on. Most people see only the top of the social media tool box. They never look beyond Facebook, Twitter, et al to see what else they might need. Simon U. Ford of Australia is one other person I have found who really get it. Ford urges his students to use all of the tools, including Digg and Flickr.

  • sucaje

    I like the list very much and I look forward to being at stage in social media evolution to be able to apply it! I live and work in central Italy, and whilst facebook is now a common tool, twitter is an extremely new one, and as yet certainly not a business one. Internet usage here is also very low (we still have clients with no email account…) Here's hoping that things will change (would you lend us your president for a month or so – it would be really useful!).

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  • johnholcombe

    I really like your first comment, “Design a plan that does NOT include Facebook, Twitter or a corporate blog.” I think many people get caught up in thinking these social media sites are the catch all for their business. These places should only be used to drive traffic to your personal sites.

    Thanks for the great information.

    John

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauraleedooley LauraLee Dooley

    Interesting thoughts – I find one of the challenges is to first understand how different social media tools work and gain lessons learned by building up followers, friends, and fans. Participating in the online conversation requires time to listen, learn, respond, and generate compelling content. One of the reasons people gravitate to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is because of the ginormous growth rates over the last few years and the ability for individuals and brands to meet with some level of success with these tools. While the scenic route is definitely a useful approach for the experienced driver, the ultimate goal is to get to work. And the sooner, the better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johndwilliamson John Williamson

    Jason, I really LOVE this entry!

    Every one of your top 10 list items would generate new ideas :)

    I am currently in the process of thinking about what our social media strategy should be for my new venture, Uvestor.com (@uvestor).

    I'm going to employ some of these ideas immediately! I'll be following up with you soon ;)

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  • http://www.choicehow.com/ Mr.Choice

    Wikipedia is likely to delete posts you generate on that site. It's hard to depend on Wikipedia when writing about certain products.

    • Digital Jedi

      I think he was referring more to the effort, then to the actual posting to Wikipedia. Like writing an encyclopedia article about your product.

  • Digital Jedi

    Try to find a Social Media outlet that actual caters to your specific product. Oddly enough, there are some out there.

  • Digital Jedi

    I think he was referring more to the effort, then to the actual posting to Wikipedia. Like writing an encyclopedia article about your product.

  • Digital Jedi

    Try to find a Social Media outlet that actual caters to your specific product. Oddly enough, there are some out there.

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