Vanity Bait: Remembering The “Social” In Social Media

Posted in Social Media

The concept of being social and engaging communities has been around a lot longer than “social media.” Today I was hooked by a vanity bait mechanism I helped create more than 15 years ago, in my role of Creative Director of a CBS affiliate station in Duluth.

Imagine my surprise to see my daughter on television this morning! Her school’s choir was singing on the local CBS affiliate’s Sunday morning news show. There she was! The show featured choirs from a number regional school systems. Awesome! My kid was on TV. I reached for my cell phone and started calling local family and friends.

“Tune in now,” I encouraged! “She’s on TV!” My fatherly buttons were bursting as I called, tweeted, DM’d and otherwise recruited viewers for the local weekend morning news show, realtime. Then it hit me!

In 1995, in my job as Creative Director of the very same CBS affiliate, KDLH, I conceived and produced the first show in years that assembled local choirs to sing at holiday time.  The memory is vivid, of the 1995 conference room crew as I pitched the show to the station’s General Manager.  My thinking was that, if we invited a half a dozen choirs from around the DMA, each singing group would have at least 10 kids in it.

For each kid, there would be parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers and friends who would tune in.  The schools would take pride also. Teachers, fellow students and the entire school system would likely take note. Videos would get recorded on VHS and Betamax, Christmas and Hanukkah video gifts would get shipped to interested friends and family and the entire event would generate buzz that helped promote and brand our station. I called it “Vanity Bait.” Little did I know that more than 15 years later, long after I worked in television, that I would get hooked by my own vanity bait!

What Is Vanity Bait?
Social media is about reaching out to communities in meaningful ways, that engage to such a great extent that others evangelize content for you. A classic route to such results are to give the community great reasons to do so. Vanity bait is about appealing the the sense of what’s important in circles where there is potentially fanatic motivation to spawn viral rebroadcast. Of COURSE I called folks I know to brag about my daughter. Of course I did!

The same thinking holds true with many social media content conventions.  Think about link roundups. Whether daily, weekly, monthly and no matter the vertical, systematically highlighting content that summarizes any topical space engages the creators of the content. These creators and their followers are very likely to promote the roundup that features their content.

Interviews work the same way. Interview someone on your blog or podcast and you engage the entire community that surrounds the interviewee.  Reviews, editorials, and featuring other organizations are fantastic tactics. In short, the best way to be successful with social media content is to be..well…social! The best way to motivate others to support your efforts is to actually engage them, with content that has an inherent second degree of engagement. Create content with legs and just watch the results.

Same As It Ever Was
Today I reached out across more than 15 years and hooked myself, concerning my own child, and I became an evangelist for a television show that was inherently viral by design. The concept of being “social” and engaging communities has been around a lot longer than “social media.” Remembering to put the “social” in social media is a classic concept that transcends the Internet and today’s viral channels.

 

  • alanc230

    Absolutely true. Social media is supposed to be all about society, about bringing people together who know each other, or used to, and expanding the horizons of their community.

  • Joe Thornton

    Love the term “vanity bait.” Hadn’t thought about it in that frame of mind, but I can think of several instances in the last month where I’ve taken the same bait and run with it in my social media circles. Great post, Marty!

  • Pokin

    I also like the term “vanity bait.”, it’s accurate and catchy, although there’s a sliiiight negative connotation in “vanity”. Not enough to avoid using the term :)

    Overall, it seems like “what’s in it for your target?” should be a regular thought in any communication – the more personally relevant, the better! :)