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Pied Pipers, Social Media, & Going It Alone

When speaking with clients about how to improve their social media approach, I am surprised at how few are familiar with the story of how the World Wide Web came to be. Once upon a time, back during the Cold War, our government was concerned about how to safeguard communication during an attack. What if Washington, DC were decimated by a bomb? Their answer: to put communication computers in university basements across the country, creating a “web” of communication. This way, it wouldn’t matter what was flattened; communications could bypass the out-of-commission location and find another way, through another computer (or series of computers), to the end recipient. “How cool is this?” said the professors staring at the computers in the basements of their institutions. “Can we borrow your communications engine for research requests to tap academic brains as brilliant as our own?” And the Information Highway was born. Tens of years later (could it really be 50?), all things now flow through the Internet. All things. Enter social media. We have spent the past five years or so disseminating information via social media platforms to those we have cultivated as our followers. Let’s call it “Pushing Out” engagement. All good. It has built businesses (including my own). But any Pied Piper will tell you that when there are 50 Pied Pipers marching down the same road, all vying for the same pool of innocent children, you will need some shiny objects indeed. Invariably, your power on all social media - as more and more people use it - diminishes with time. We recently did the social media for The Hampton Classic (one of the most prestigious horse shows in the country), where the horses eat better than I do (I’m not kidding). We did five segments of Facebook Live during the Leadline division. For those of you less horsey folk, the Leadline is where cute little three-year-olds with ribbons in their hair more intricate than my prom dress, sit atop a pony while their proud parents hope for the blue ribbon that says they will be headed to the Olympics in a mere 20 years and millions of dollars hence. (No judgment here. My daughter rode in The Hampton Classic Leadline and I took a zillion pictures, printed them and sent them to friends who pretended it was momentous and family that really thought it was.) Anyway, we did five segments. Three garnered around 3,000 views over the course of the next few hours. One garnered more than 47,000 views. "Wow,” said I! What was the differential, you ask? Horse Network, who put it on their site and drew in an entirely new crowd. Like 40,000+. I call it "Pulling In." Soliciting other Pied Pipers - with common interests to your product or service - but who do not compete with you. We have started instituting it, and trust me, it works. Yes, it takes more time, and no, you don’t seek the same social media partners every time. But if you want to grow your brand awareness, and lure people down that Information Highway, don’t sit back and think you can do it with your pipes alone. Even with Pied Pipers, it still takes a village.

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