Anyone who knows me knows I'm kind of a sap, so one of my annual holiday rituals is to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and sob predictably during the last scene. I have a professional interest, too: the entire movie is a lesson in social...not technology, but the underlying behaviors that drive engagement,trust, and community .
Before you dive into your next list of things to do with "new" media, here are a few "old" to-dos you might want to try, courtesy of a movie first released in 1946:
Remove, don't add . The movie's plot is all about showing George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) what the world would look like if he hadn't been born. It's a revelation for him, as it would be for your marketing if you chose to stop doing something you take for granted, or struggle to measure. I had a client last year who felt burdened by the production schedule of a content strategy, so we paused a few components to see if anybody missed them. Some drew a huge silence, while others elicited feedback on what people missed most, or always wished they'd got. Or how about this: next time your agency tells you to do something, ask them what activity it'll replace. Engagement isn't about volume or frequency. It's about doing what matters.
Serve customers, not exceptions . Like all movies, the plot is driven by special events - as a kid, George must decide whether to save his employer from making the wrong call, and then to save his savings & loan business as an adult - but most of the narrative shows him simply trying to do the right thing all the time. It glorifies the day-to-day, and it suffered at the box office because some critics felt the point was overly simplistic and nostalgic. But it shows that trust is earned first and foremost by ongoing conduct, not exceptional effort. Doing the hard operational work on the front end - not focusing on righting wrongs with communications after they've happened - could represent a very different approach to social strategy for you in 2015, couldn't it?
Measure outcomes, not buzz . When George's brother hoists a toast to "the richest man in town" (that's when I sob), he's recognizing the value of community. George couldn't see it coming because he'd been tracking the conventional measures of success, like big careers and financial wealth. But when the people he'd touched throughout his life showed up to help him in that last scene, the value was made tangibly real. Do your communities yield similar real-world value along the way (easier sales, faster product launches, etc)? Maybe your community metrics should measure actions in the real-world, not the behaviors on social platforms like you've been told to follow.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is also instructive about the power of word-of-mouth, the fact that any communication needs to be based in reality, and the ways each of us, personally and on behalf of the brands and institutions we serve, create and tell stories that matter to others. None of those qualities of social experience has anything to do with technology. They're old truths made apparent in an old medium.
Maybe they could be applied to your new media strategy this year?