If you manage social media for your company, you have probably heard the “it’s too risky” cry. This may come from overly conservative lawyers, overly conservative management, compliance professionals, or may even come from your own mind. Every new project you try to launch brings up new risk concerns. Photo contest? Better think about copyright infringement concerns. Implementing a hashtag campaign on Twitter to promote home ownership? You need to eliminate your blind spots.
The one thing I have learned over the years is that you need to be exposed to many areas. Combining those thoughts with what you are doing can be quite powerful. Today, I want to turn your attention to an article on tinybuddha.com by Matthew McEwan titled “One Question That Could Change Your Life for the Better.” Mr. McEwan starts off with the question, “What would happen if you did?” This is a great way to look at things positively. It is usually where people start and end their analysis. It leaves you open to blind spots though, just like it does in life.
The power of this article for social media managers lies in three additional questions. In sum, framing your new project against these questions makes you better able to work with management. It will allow you to gain greater insight into what you propose before anyone else starts to poke holes in it. Risk managers are the biggest hole pokers. Granted it is their job. However, there are many other stakeholders out there and to position yourself in the best manner, you need to honestly look at the things you are planning. So, let’s look at the four questions:
- What would happen if you did?
- What would happen if you didn’t?
- What wouldn’t happen if you did?
- What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t?
Mr. McEwan proposes this quadrant analysis for problems in your own personal life. There is great power there, and I hope to try to bring this into my own life. Let’s look at the analysis for your social media projects and how it might work. I am going to use a sample campaign and analyze it against the matrix.
Example Project – User Submitted Photo Contest
Photos are engaging, right. Everyone is doing visual things these days, so you want to drive customer engagement through one of these. You are going to have users submit photos and then vote on the ones they like the best. Photo with the most votes, wins. Easy-peezy, right. Let’s go to the Matrix.
What would happen if you did?
This is where you already spend most of your time selling this idea, and will be where risk managers will spend some time, as well. If you do this contest, you tap into our human affinity for visual content. (Sources – Simply Measured and Dan Zarella). While this question is very hard on the personal side, it is a bit easier on the business side. This is the sales pitch you take to your social media director and they eat this stuff up. This is what gets you all excited. You definitely need to keep this in your back pocket.
Your risk managers are going to look at the negative side, though. Change the would to a could and you can anticipate their concerns. For a photo contest like this, I see two concerns. First, someone submitting a picture they didn’t take. Otherwise known as copyright infringement. Second, your voting mechanism. Think about how you would game the system. For contests on social using voting mechanisms, I propose a two step process. One of the steps should be in your control, such as the brand will select the ten best photos and then the users can vote on the finalists.
What would happen if you didn’t?
This is another way to analyze the benefits of this campaign. Are you going to reach a new audience? What are your goals as a brand? If you don’t do this contest, will you reach your goals? Maybe your goal is to drive likes to your Facebook page and this contest is projected to add an additional 15% fans. What are each of your fans worth to you? Be honest in these calculations and how your quantify your benefits. Your risk managers will challenge these figures.
Don’t forget the intangibles. Being first in a space has benefits that you may not be able to quantify. Just be sure you are not doing something just because everyone else is doing it. Put your spin on it. Make it your own. Counterpoint to this is if you are perceived negatively because you aren’t doing something, then you have a reason to do it. It becomes table stakes. Does anyone question whether you should have an online presence these days. While jumping off a bridge because everyone else does isn’t a very good reason. It is a great reason when the bridge is burning. Please leap.
What wouldn’t happen if you did?
Opportunity cost framed in different language. Your budget is finite. It is not a gas that infinitely expands to fill the space of need. Doing something will invariably mean you can’t do something else. What are those things? Be critical again. This ends up being a bit of a recursive practice because as you look at the things that wouldn’t happen, you need to look at those things individually and see what they could bring.
A photo contest, like the example, will take up resources. If you have limited staff, will you have to scale back on your response times in other social channels? Are you meeting your published time commitments now? What are your non-negotiables and will doing this violate them.
What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t?
I love this double negative. Grammatically it becomes the first question, right? It does force you to look at the benefits from a different perspective, though. Thinking about using those submissions for other campaigns? Not doing this contest will reduce the amount of content for that campaign, for instance.
Eliminate your blind spots
This matrix systemically walks you through a process that will help you analyze what you are doing. It may not eliminate all blind spots, but you will be better served. I think it also points out that you need to be looking at other areas for inspiration.