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Social media strategy: What would Don and Peggy do?

The suitcase peggy and don bar

I’m obsessed with Mad Men, the AMC television show about Madison Avenue advertising in the 1960’s, now in its semi-final season. I love the writing and the drama. The clothes, the period décor — they’re eye candy. The characters are as fresh and innovative as the campaigns they pitch. Don Draper is the man in control. I loathe him for his habitual infidelity, while secretly longing for the show’s writers to take him back to his dark side. And Peggy Olson? She’s the feminists’ every girl; the advertising exec career woman I would have been had I not been born too late to rock polyester plaid and Lucite earrings.

But here’s the thing: As I watch each episode of each tragically short season from the comfort of my 21st Century couch, I’m not thinking just about how far we’ve come in workplace gender equality or how fortunate we are not to have seen a fashion resurgence in wide ties. I’m also thinking about how narrow the media focus is at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) compared to what communications and marketing professionals must embrace today.

A whole new world

As ad account executive and creative director, Don and Peggy fashioned pitches for magazines and newspapers. Later, they adapted their skills for a TV audience, writing commercials for floor cleaner and hair spray. And that was pretty much it. TV and print. Maybe a billboard or a radio spot thrown in.

Fast forward 50 years. We still have TV, although DVRs and webcasts have changed the playing field for advertisers. Calls for the death of print have been slightly premature — magazines are still thriving (newspapers, not so much). Digital media has opened a whole new world to communications. Today’s audiences are inundated with information from the World Wide Web, eblasts, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, mobile apps, blogs, robo-calls, and on and on.

For associations struggling to grasp all these media options (with vastly smaller staffs than SCDP, I might add), the question becomes, How much is too much?

Change the conversation
All of AMPED’s associations have accounts on two or more social media platforms. A few of them also have their own custom online communities. Add to that eblasts, newsletters and website posts and you have at least seven possible touches for every one message in a multi-message campaign.

You can imagine, there’s a very real danger of over posting and turning off an audience. The challenge is finding the right balance so that followers stay engaged and enlightened.

1. Keep it fresh. You don’t want your members to go to your social media site and find months’ old news. In fact, not filling your page with fresh photos and posts can be worse than not having a page at all. Neglect your Facebook page and it’s like neglecting your members.

2. Time it wisely. Schedule dedicated time every week to focus on social media. And don’t post too much in too short a time or your followers will start to ignore you.

3. Reconsider the number of channels you’re using. While there’s no doubt that associations need a strong presence in social media, don’t substitute the quantity of your placements for quality. Two to three social media channels is manageable. Any more and you may find yourself neglecting a few. (see tip #1) And be sure your members are actually using the social media channels before you commit resources to maintaining them.

4. Above all, be social. Don’t just announce an upcoming meeting; highlight a special event or location that will intrigue readers. Use conversational tones in your writing. Include slang when appropriate. Add photos from previous events. Encourage members to post their own association-related photos and videos. Post “shout outs” to members who have contributed their time or benefitted the association.

As Peggy said, “There’s a fine line between engaging and annoying.” Actually, she never said that. But if she were immersed in the marketing and communications world of today, I imagine she might. I also imagine her getting rid of that lousy apartment, making partner and taking over Don’s old corner office. It could happen.

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