In high-school speech class, we’re taught that speeches typically have at least one of three purposes: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade. Whether it’s Dane Cook doing stand-up comedy, a campaigning politician at a rally, or a professor giving a geology lecture, if somebody’s talking, it fits into one of these categories.
But this isn’t limited to spoken word– the same can be said for almost anything written, including social media. Try going to your Twitter feed, reading through the top ten tweets, and figuring out which category each tweet belongs in. See what I mean?
Unfortunately, hot-shot orators have an edge that common Twitter users don’t: people’s time and attention. This gives them the opportunity to combine the three kinds of speeches with ease. If a speaker gets on a stage for even half an hour, for example, they have more than enough time to inform their audience, persuade them, and do it in an entertaining way. How is anyone supposed to accomplish that in a Facebook post, let alone the 140-character confines of Twitter?
But here’s something you can do: mix it up.
Instead of trying to persuade people to buy your product all the time, teach them something that might add value to their lives. Instead of writing sarcastic or witty commentary about everything, post something genuinely deep and thoughtful. Throw your friends and followers a curve ball, and they’ll realize that there might just be a side of you they never knew about. Being multi-dimensional like this is a great way to attract a wider audience while keeping your current audience more interested.
Don’t get me wrong– consistency can also be important. If you’ve got a particular image or reputation to uphold, you don’t want to do a complete turnaround. Still, I’m willing to bet that you’ve got more wiggle room than you want to admit.
Here are a few examples of people diversifying their social media portfolio:
1. The Australian Census
In July 2011, a Twitter user sent a goofy question to the Australian Census’ Twitter account. What he probably didn’t expect was for the organization to play along:
Why it works: The general public wants to see that the government is made up of real people. We all like it when the folks in charge are a bit less stuffy than usual, and this is one heck of a start.
2. The White House Rick-Rolling Someone via Twitter
After someone had complained about a boring correspondence briefing on Twitter, The White House’s Twitter responded to them with a link that sent them to the infamous video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”:
Why it works: Mostly for the same reasons as The Australian Census example, but The White House gets extra points for being trendy and including a popular American prank.
If you’re not familiar with them, Cake is a California-based alternative-rock band, known for their absurd lyrics, great trumpet parts, and a fun, funky sound. Based on their music alone, the last thing you’d expect is for them to get all dark and serious on their Facebook.
But that’s exactly what they do:
Of course, there’s still the occasional music video, recording footage, or tour update, but this kind of content is also sprinkled throughout their timeline.
Why it works: Honestly, I can’t really say whether it does or doesn’t. Cake have actually alienated some fans by straying too far away from the music. This is a very extreme example, and while I don’t recommend it to everyone, I also can’t help but respect Cake for having the guts to stand up for what they believe in.
Whether you’re representing yourself or a business, take a look at your Tweets and Facebook posts and ask yourself this question: do I need to diversify my social media portfolio?