Homegrown: Social Media with Gavin O’Hara Recap

This month’s Homegrown speaker was Gavin O’Hara, the Global Social Media Publisher at Lenovo. He gave us an inside look on how he uses social media to tell stories about the Lenovo brand, and to start conversations. He explained that social media is a conversation starter—an icebreaker—and that’s the lure of the Jackalope.

“new media, same old need to tell good stories”

Why social media?

With a blog or your website, you have to draw people in to read your content. Social is where people live online, they are already there so it’s a prime opportunity to draw them into your orbit and gradually tell them your story, to portray it in a way that sets people alight turning them into fans and advocates for your brand.

Match the story with the platform

Choose the right platform to tell your stories. Visual storytelling is the most impactful and most shared form of content. Use Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest to share visuals. Invite people to share their visuals relating to your brand on these platforms. Images are the most shared and liked content on Facebook. Share photos on Twitter and LinkedIn as well.

Use your blog posts to tell a more in-depth story and link to those stories on your social media channels. Again, visual help draw people in, so use appropriate imagery in your blog posts. Monitor the success of the topics you share. What are people responding to? Negative and positive responses can guide your content strategy. Interview people involved in big projects you work on for blog posts.

Use forums as a support channel. Twitter is also a good platform for support and customer service. Monitor platforms for mentions of issues or problems with your brand, and for praise. Address these concerns openly and ask for feedback.

Global audience

If your brand has a global audience, watch your tone and voice. Be clever and interesting, but don’t over do it. You need to have counterparts in the countries your brand is in to handle accounts in those regions. Share content with them. What are they doing different that’s new or interesting?

Telling stories

Instagram: go about town and snap the sites, while using subtle product placement in the photos. When traveling for work, document the trip, share the sites. Get the public involved, ask people to hold the product in a subtle way. Document company events and day-to-day happenings at the company. Take and share pictures of your product in use. Create branded visuals and insert them into the scene when you snap the photo.

YouTube: Lenovo uses two strategies for creating content on YouTube—Epic Plots and Lo-Fi Grit. Epic plots will be a highly produced video about the product, brand or company. Lo-fi grit are quick shorts that are simple and fun, and easy to create. Create behind-the-scenes videos of  life at the company and events you are involved in. Document big events and chronicle day-to-day activities at the company. (Side note: tag carefully, YouTube offers related content and sometimes that content is undesirable to have associated with your content).

Enliven products:  Create or invite people to share videos of your products durability, what they’ve created with it, etc. (Lenovo’s Baked, Battered, & Blistered). Highlight exceptional people connected to your brand either as an employee, advocate, or user.

Amplify news: Use social media as the company ticker, posting updates and news. Share stories from other sources about your brand, company, employees, and users.

Give users a voice: allow others to control the narrative. Sponsor contests, ask advocates to tell their stories about your brand.

Accepting hate, deflecting trouble: Use social media as your first responder. When people express hate or negativity about your brand, use it as an opportunity to problem-solve and turn a hater into an advocate.

Recycling content: Find ways to present existing content in a fresh way so it doesn’t feel old. Reuse content where you can when you can by relating it to something new.

Being Truthful

Be discriminating about what you post. Have filters in place as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Keep negative comments from users on your website and on Facebook. Respond to them, but don’t attack. Set rules for users who comment. If you have several people posting content, have their name attached to it. It’s more personal and personable. Social media is a great way to showcase the personality and humanize the brand. It loosens up the corporate nature of the brand. Content is of the moment and doesn’t need to go through rounds of approval before getting published like a press release does.

Visuals are everything!

We have an insatiable appetite for great images. Photos and video are shareable content. Images transcend language barriers. Images generate the most interest on Facebook, they draw people into blog posts. Use them and lead with them. Instagram and Pinterest are emerging platforms in sharing visuals. Create photos and content from events to share, it can extend the life of the event and generate a lot of content that can be spread out over time. Plan ahead for how to capture the most content at events, but be open so you can add to and adapt the plan.


By Amy Lyons
Published December 2, 2012