What is your social media storyline?

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 11.18.21 PMHypothetical – you are planning a trip to Bora Bora. You can spend hours reading books, watching videos and asking your friends about Bora Bora. Surely this will provide some insights but nothing compares to being there in person. Ditto for exploring any social media channel. Strategizing will only take you so far and sometimes you just need to dabble to learn more. That said, it is important to have a guiding framework when thinking about social media.

I attended a conference recently and heard a brilliant analogy from an engaging speaker named Lydia Leavitt on how to approach social media strategy by comparing it to a movie or television program’s storyboard. This involved defining a goal, premise, characters, audience and overarching story theme related to your brand. The storyboard then serves as a guide to ensure that your voice and story are on message.

To exemplify this, Lydia used the example of the Jersey Shore. By way of background, I have never watched this show. From what I have read and heard, the shows represents much about what is wrong with our society. That disclaimer out of the way, Lydia described the Jersey Shore’s goal, premise, characters, audience and overarching story theme. In a nutshell, the show’s main objective is to use alcohol-induced party situations to consistently engage a young audience. The show cancelled when one of the main protagonists gets pregnant and the other enters alcohol rehabilitation as the partying environment targeted to young adults went off script.

The message for brands is to stick to the storyline. Every social media update is a means to further engage the target audience and tell the brand’s story. At the same, there is also the risk to damage your brand by going off script.

I have thought this through for both my workplace brand as well as for my own individual professional storyline. For the latter, my work in progress storyboard is as follows:

Goal: Highlight trends in global communications and learning development.

Premise: Individuals aren’t fully harnessing the power of social media and the internet for lifelong learning; people / brands need to further realize their ability to communicate directly with global audiences.

Audience: Colleagues within my workplace and industry; individuals generally interested in various aspects of communication and education.

Characters: Myself; individuals within my workplace and the business school industry; respected peers in the communications and education worlds.

Story: From my reading, listening and experiences, my perspectives on public relations, global communications, social media, and learning can benefit others.

While I am passionate about my Christian faith, sports and politics, I generally stay away from these topics as delving into them may not be relevant to my target audience and isn’t related to the end goal.

What about you? What is your storyboard? It is well worth thinking this through either for yourself individually or if you represent an organization on social media.  Answers can help you define a voice and keep you away from off topic content.