Adele, Social Strategy and Brand Management Power

Dan Farkas

This is a guest post from Dan Farkas, a Solo PR Pro Premium member, who is an Instructor of Strategic Communication at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He is also the founder of Dan Farkas Interactive, which specializes in social storytelling through a variety of platforms. 

Hello.

It’s tough to agree on anything in this modern world. But when 919 million people (and counting) choose to watch a video on YouTube in less than four months, it’s as close to a sign of consensus that the Internet can get.

Adele’s “Hello” is more than a musical revelation. A closer listen to the lyrics might make you rethink your social marketing strategy plans for 2016.

“Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to talk about myself, I’m sorry
I hope that you’re well.”

I’m so fortunate to teach at one of the best journalism schools in the country at Ohio University. The students see things many miss in the daily grind. Case in point, groups conducted a social media audit of four multi-million dollar brands. Countless blogs and books stress some semblance of these key points when creating social content:

  • Don’t sell all the time.
  • Think beyond the brand.
  • Show something that advances the ball or social good.

The students looked at several brands. Every single one consistently broke some or all of those rules.

  • “Direct sales.” Check.
  • “Look at me.” Check.
  • “Random question devoid of direction that allows people to troll stupid answers.” Check.

If listening is the most important part of a social strategy, when will brands fully devote resources to successfully accomplish this? How can your brand better create cross-functional teams to address and respond to customers or potential customers? How can brands use social to be social? These are three questions to consider as you listen to the rest of Adele’s new album/CD/MP3.

“So hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times.”

Remember when organic reach on Facebook approached 50%? That seems longer than the wait between Adele albums. Message repetition is tedious; it can be expensive; it’s also 100% essential.

If you’re great at your job, it takes three message exposures to get it. Chances are, it takes 8 – 11 darts before something sticks. Then consider reach rates of anywhere from 2 – 20%.

You can’t sing along to Adele’s new record after hearing it just once. Why expect brand messaging to stick when reach rates and retention are both so low? Hoard content. Wash, rinse, repeat. Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel does a great job of repurposing content to better ensure an impression. You should too.

“It’s no secret
That the both of us are running out of time.”

Relationships are shorter now than ever. That applies to agencies and clients. It applies to brands and customers. As switching costs decrease and completion increases, time is a precious commodity that’s too easily taken away.

So when Ryan Morgan, digital director, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, said, “Good operations is good marketing,” it was more powerful than an Adele high note.

  • Create a great product.
  • Show people the product.
  • Be open to customer reaction and feedback.

As a marketer, this concept feels simple but requires a fundamental change in how many marketers think. Let’s use Adele’s performance on Jimmy Fallon as an example. Everyone gets out of the way. There’s one camera and no edits. The product is the musical experience. It’s online for open reaction.

The confidence in the product allows for a simple and transparent delivery. The reputation and relationship management connects to objectives on exposure (16 million views) and sales (6 million albums sold and counting.)

Here’s the problem or opportunity. Adele has control over her product. Do you as a marketer? Think of how tough it is to be at the table and express concern over something outside the marketing bubble. Think of how tough it is to even get a seat at that table. Marketers are in the business of solving problems; that’s tough to do when there isn’t open and honest access to the puzzle pieces. As an industry, we have to fight for this.

“But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore.”

Hello. We all can agree that now is a great time to plan for a more prosperous 2016. You have the power to create better content and a better community. How will you make the most of the moments at hand? Unlike Adele’s new record, they’ll be gone before you know it.

Dan Farkas is an Instructor of Strategic Communication at Ohio University, where he teaches a series of writing, strategy and multimedia courses. Dan also owns Dan Farkas Interactive, which helps clients find, craft and share the perfect story. In a previous life, Dan worked in television news, anchoring and reporting in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and Tennessee.

Dan has earned more than two-dozen awards for his work and has been quoted by the BBC and Mashable. He also might be the biggest Columbus Blue Jackets fan in the Solo PR Pro community.   

  • Joan L. Witte

    Great post and I will listen to Hello! much differently now.

  • Thanks for the mention, Dan. That Adele Fallon bit is the stuff (all of those classroom instrument bits are). As is the her ride along / sing along with James Cordon. Can only do that if you’ve really got it.