10 Ways To Jump Start Your Social Media Thinking

by Jason Falls |
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 the Author

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).