Outlook 2016: Effective Social Media
Howard Bowler
Issue: December 1, 2015

Outlook 2016: Effective Social Media

‘Social Media,’ as everyone knows, is a valuable marketing tool. But like all tools, it only works when used properly — and its improper use can be seen everywhere.

Do you care if it’s cappuccino day at someone’s office, or if they have a great view out their window, or if it’s margarita time? These are not negative messages. It’s just social small talk that does little to empower or entertain. It says, “look at me” rather than “how can I help you?”

Granted most major brands aren’t posting pictures of their lunch, but there is often a “just put something out there” mindset at work, and that is not a strategy at all. It’s a way of saying “let’s keep a presence, let’s stay in the face of our audience.”

But before posting a business-related message on social media, why not ask, “What is the value of the post to my audience?” Will they learn something, will they be entertained and will this allow them to get to know us better? And how about this, would their time be better served if we didn’t post anything?

It’s possible to turn a mundane message into a valuable one. Let’s start with the cappuccino example from above. If you really liked the cappuccino at your office, why not tell us where you got it. Or, if you made it in your office, what machine did you use? If you thought the photo you took was worth posting then tell us how you did it? Was it off a phone? Did you crop the image? As a lifelong fan of margaritas, I’d like to know how you made it. This adds value for the reader, it’s not simply saying, “Hey look at us!”

Marketers (as well as just about everyone on social media) would be wise to remember the three ‘E’s of social media: entertain, educate, empower. In fact, it’s the same strategy to use when creating content.  At HOBO, we have kept this strategy in mind and we’ve had several projects that went viral this year.

The first was the Webby Award-winning “First Moon Party” for a feminine product delivery service called Hello Flo. Directed by Pete Marquis and Jamie T. McCelland of production company World War Seven (www.worldwarseven.com), Los Angeles, it received 30 million hits in less than three months. Why did it do so well? Start with great writing. It’s a very, very funny and entertaining spot. Cleverly directed with very convincing acting, the spot plays like a mini episode of Modern Family. The only clue that it’s an ad is the product placement at the end. 

Another project that garnered outsized social media attention was for a video game, Deus Ex Revolution, directed by Moe Charif of DCode Films (www.dcodefilms.com), New York, which received more than a million views. Aside from gamers being a very rabid group, the film stands on its own as a strong example of how sound design influences the mix, and how the right mix supports rather than competes for attention.  

The latest project was our own self-produced End Prohibition Now PSA. This spot was picked up on many social media channels, from Marijuana Policy Project to NORML, and one of the reasons it gained attention was because it was a message that resonated with these activist groups.

As writer Howard Reingold notes in his book “The Virtual Community,” one of the earliest social networking sites was The Well. It was formed by the creator of the Whole Earth Catalogue —former hippies with strong social conscience. With that genesis, it’s valuable to continue the mission the way social media was intended and that is to empower not ensnare. 

Howard Bowler is the President of HOBO Audio in New York City (www.hoboaudio.com). HOBO Audio is an audio post production company dedicated to creating an exceptional listening experience. With a growing staff and client list, HOBO has earned the trust of some of the most iconic brands and companies in the world.