As I was browsing the pages of Google News to stay up-to-date with the latest in entertainment, politics, science, and other trending stories, I was surprised to see numerous headlines about Sarah Palin. Now, this post isn't meant to be political at all, but it still impresses me that even after 4 years without holding or running for office, Palin is still able to make headlines - even just because of a single tweet or Facebook post.
From "death panels" to "blood libel" to her latest tweets on the IRS, I can't think of any other politician who could make the front page of any newspaper because of a simple social media statement. Whether or not you like her, this sort of social media influence is the kind of impact that brands everywhere are after.
I realize that most brands will never achieve the influence or following Sarah Palin has, but that's exactly why she's such a powerful content marketing example. By using Facebook and Twitter to bypass traditional media, Palin is able to speak directly to those who agree with her and give them more of what they want to hear. While brands certainly don't have to say the same controversial things Palin does, there's definitely a secret behind her success.
- Know your audience and what they want.
- Give your audience what they want.
- Be consistent in doing it.
These strategies have defined Palin's online presence, garnering media attention for her 388 Facebook posts and 1,498 tweets. While they might be basic principles, they have to be implemented to work, and Palin's social media presence certainly embodies these principles.
This isn't to say that all brands that embody these principles will succeed. These are just the basics. As I delved deeper, one of the biggest assets to Palin's online presence is her unique voice, and brands will similarly need to develop their own voice to succeed.
Storytelling Tips from Alaska
While Palin uses social media to endorse candidates or offer political statements, she's surprisingly personal as well. "Out for a jog in Central Park. Beautiful," she tweeted one morning. Remember, social media was founded on the premise of being personable and allowing humans to connect with one another. By making your brand more human, you're making it relatable, developing a deeper bond with existing followers, and playing to the strengths of social media. But humanizing your content isn't the only compelling storytelling strategy...
Be Ruthless with Your Posts
Now don't get me wrong, I'm by no means encouraging brands to be as controversial as Sarah Palin, especially politically! However, I can't think of a single time where she's said something and backed down from a position. This kind of commitment to her beliefs is what's made Palin a firebrand for conservatives and a target for her detractors. Remember, if you try speaking to everyone, chances are you'll end up speaking to no one. Likewise, is your brand fired up about your products and services?
Be persistent in your social media communication channels and keep finding new, creative ways to promote yourself. Now, if you accidentally happen to make a public political statement similar to the Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, or Hobby Lobby controversies, then be unafraid to make a mistake. Consumers want to see confidence from their brands.
Develop Your Voice on Social Media
What better way to develop confidence than to develop your brand's voice? With her folksy style that thrills supporters and annoys detractors, Palin has one of the most recognizable voices among today's politicians.
- "I love those hockey moms. You know what they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Lipstick."
- "Folks, this government isn't too big to fail, it's too big to succeed."
- "Divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd? I may be just a renegade hockey mom, but I'm not blind!"
If you recognized any of those quotes - or read them in your head with Palin's piercing voice - then you just proved my point. Love it or hate it, her voice is recognizable anywhere, and brands should want the same. Whether you harness your actual voice or develop an editorial calendar that showcases personality, be sure to confidently define your voice.
Ultimately, for whatever reason Sarah Palin continues to be a force in today's politics and pop culture. You don't need to like or agree with her to learn something from her social media tactics.
Have you tried any of these strategies? What lessons can your business use from Sarah Palin's controversial style?