Love him or hate him, Frank Luntz calls it like he sees it. During my recent interview with him on the IMA Leader podcast, Luntz didn’t pull any punches when calling out Republicans for their weak social marketing strategies.
“Republicans didn’t implement in 2014 what Obama was doing in 2008.”
Though he got his start on a national stage working for Newt Gingrich and helping to draft the Contract with America, Luntz pulls from a wide audience. He serves as a contributor to Fox News and CBS which is rare. He’s worked for politicians on both sides of the aisle and, though he’s definitely known as a Republican pollster, he started off our interview by telling me he didn’t define himself that way.
“I’m sort of a jack of all trades and master of none.”
Luntz was incredibly pessimistic when talking about social media. He laid into Republicans who seem to have their head in the sand when it comes to using the relatively new media to engage the electorate. Luntz also had some words of caution for people using digital marketing techniques to talk with an audience.
3 Social Media Landmines
1. Lengthy messages do not get read.
2. Social media is a place for venting, not to think and contemplate.
3. Your posts can and will be twisted and used against you.
5 Steps to Avoid Disaster
So how do we tame this beast? Given Luntz’s stipulation that social media has its limitation and potential pitfalls, here is advice from the ‘maestro of messaging’ himself:
1. People don’t read much more than 450 words
In the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you generally get 800 words to make your point. Not so in the social world.
On Twitter you get 140 characters and on other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn you certainly can use far more, but no one wants to read a diatribe so keep your blogs to one topic and stay focused. Keep your tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest descriptions, etc. as short as possible.
Buffer even recommends 40 characters maximum for Facebook posts for higher engagement. Less really is more.
2. Visuals are powerful
In fact, according to Hubspot, videos on Facebook are shared 12 times more than text posts and links combined, photos are twice as likely to earn likes over text updates, and photo and video posts on Pinterest refer more traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Google+.
3. Play to emotion
Because social media is a great place for venting, connecting quickly to your audience through emotion is a top strategy. Get them to laugh, cry, fume, or jump and your message will be more widely shared and engaged with, thus eliciting a bigger impact.
Read more on the Science of Emotion in Marketing from the Huffington Post for how you can leverage it in your social media strategy.
4. You better have facts
If you don’t have facts to support what you say, prepare for destruction.
The best rule of thumb according to Luntz is to ground what you say in principles or information not up for debate. This reduces what opponents can argue with and the havoc they can wreak on your message. For example, include verifiable statistics when talking about a product or situation.
No: “Our product was great.”
Yes: “Our product was in the top 3 of industry rankings 7 out of 8 years.”
5. Never “set it and forget it”
Part of your social media strategy must include monitoring what you put out there and the engagement it receives. Many take pride in hijacking communication for their own interests and even the best communication attempts can be thwarted if you don’t monitor and correct confusion.
Luntz believes that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. In our interview, he shared mistakes he made in his life that helped him realize that with social media, you need to be short, visual, authentic and emotional in order to be successful.
Be sure to subscribe to IMA Leader and hear guests like Frank Luntz share the experiences from which they learned to be successful in today’s hyper-communicative and ultra-competitive world.
Do you have other “rules” that should be added to this list? What social media mistakes have you learned from that you can share with our IMA members? Comment below or tweet me at @domsir411 or at @IMA_Network.