Social Graces and a Ghost

I did not like Twitter.

I scoffed at it. Called it silly. Until, that is, I realized how to use it. When I realized how to use it, well, great things happened.

With the help of Twitter, I became a contributor to the satirical newspaper The Onion. And I got the chance to contribute to a well-regarded literary magazine’s blog. And those blog contributions were eventually collected and put into book form, which I self-published.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love Twitter.

But I only loved it after I found my voice. I’m a comedy geek, and I wanted to treat Twitter as a forum for my jokes. And I stuck with it. I didn’t break form, no matter how tempting it was to tweet something that wasn’t a joke. In other words, I stayed true to my voice.

The companies that best use social networking are the companies that use it as extensions of their own voice. You’d think this would be obvious by now, yet there are so many companies out there caught up in the technique of social networking—and digital, in general—that they forget about the art of it. They fail to comprehend that a social network isn’t just a place to have a conversation—it’s also a place to build your brand.

A couple weeks ago, Marty Orzio—the CCO who just recently left Gotham—wrote an article for oneclub.org entitled “Is Bill Bernbach Really Dead.” In the article—found here—he interviews a junior copywriter who claims he had spoken to the ghost of Bill Bernbach. And at one point, the ghost of Bernbach said this: “Word of mouth may be great, but at some point we have to make sure the words are right, define the terms and adapt our techniques to an idea, not an idea to our techniques.”

Exactly. A good example of what Bill’s ghost said is the Old Spice "response campaign.” They established the rules up front by first establishing their brand. They were the first to speak, laying the foundation. So when consumers eventually joined in the conversation, they not only knew what to expect, they actually egged it on. And, in the end, the consumers helped build the brand for them, which is pretty much gold.

The ghost of Bill also said, “The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry – and there’s no long-lasting persuasion without it. The essence of impact is saying things the way they’ve never been said before.”

Saying things the way they’ve never been said before. Having a unique voice. Do that effectively and consumers will welcome you into their homes. Just like the editor of The Onion welcomed me. Just like that literary magazine let me write for them. I didn’t get hypnotized by a technique. I created something with substance. Something genuine, that evoked an emotion. And that made all the difference.

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