Content, Community & Call to Action: The Three C’s of Successful Social Media Programs

Visited UN this past week to speak at the Social Innovation Summit on video & social change. My basic advice is broad enough to apply to any type of social media campaign, so here it is: You need three Cs — Content, Community, Call to Action. Missing any one of these will prevent your message from being heard or turning awareness into actual results.

A) Content
It all starts with the content, the message. There’s no one right answer here as to what’s best. But you should ask yourself some questions, such as: does the content match the distribution medium, is it authentic to me, what is the emotional hook, which community segments does it connect with, will it work internationally, is it timely? If you don’t feel good about the content or it’s not resonating with your target audience, don’t push it out.
Myths: content needs to be expensive, exclusive, highly-produced, celebrity-driven, short.
B) Community
If you just create a piece of content and hope people find it, you’ll be waiting quite a while. Instead you need to bring your community to it and ask them to help spread it to their communities. The Internet is quite literally a network of hubs and spokes. Traverse it.
For example, if you were releasing a YouTube video, best practices would be:
  • share it across G+, FB, Twitter. Embed it on your site. Consider sending it out to your mailing list. 
  • trying to get people to take a sharing action right when you release the video (“tweet at 9am”) is fine but realistically you’re better off encouraging folks to just take some sharing action within the first few hours.
  • connect in advance with important hubs who aren’t already part of your community and try to get them involved in the effort so you have the multiplicative effect built in
Myths: a celebrity RT is all that matters, things go “viral” without community support (possible but rare)
C) Call to Action
Of course you want “awareness” and “engagement” but these are meaningless words. What do you want people to do? Donate money? Call their congressman? Sign a petition? Be clear about your call to action and weave it into your content. Minimize the distance between someone being moved by your content and taking action. Optimize your call to action just like you would any other performance based web interaction.
Myths: social media can’t translate to “real world” change