You can’t just smash blast anymore.” Instead, you have to give them what they want and then strive to aggregate with yourself so you can control your own marketing. So says Jay Leopardi, the self-proclaimed “bad boy” of social media. The key points for those of still using paper sometimes are:

    • Ground everything you do and say in your brand promise.
    • Create great content that weaves a compelling narrative.
    • Leverage the new rules of social media to amplify your narrative.


Ground Everything in Your Brand Promise

Leopardi understands that

A brand is more than just an identity; it’s a promise from a company to its consumers. A strong and durable brand should convey a company’s beliefs and values to the world.

The question to answer is what matters and why, one of the BRAVE questions discussed in our new book, First-Time Leader (request an executive summary). Once you understand where you’re playing, figuring out what matters and why sets you up to work through how you’re going to win, how you’re going to connect and the impact you’re going to have. In many ways, all of those are part of your brand promise.

Step one in engaging your audience is getting clear on the brand promise they should engage with.


Weave a Compelling Narrative

TAI’s Allan Schoer suggests that great communicators move from stories to narrative to meaning to engagement, and then from engagement to action. He goes on to explain that leaders must think of themselves as “narrator-in-chief”. This is different than being just a storyteller. Storytellers tell stories. Narrators-in-chief, like editors-in-chief, pull the various stories together to create a narrative over time.

This is the difference between one hit social media wonders and successful businesses over time. One-hit wonders can tell one story well. Success over time requires an ongoing, living, breathing, narrative that evokes meaningful emotions and evolves with its audience.

This is what audiences engage with over time, the meaning, the why, the beliefs and values.

Step two is acting as a narrator-in-chief to drive a compelling meaningful narrative over time.


Leverage the New Rules of Social Media

Leopardi thinks this all starts with giving a refined target audience what they want. He uses the CATE app as an example. CATE of course is an acronym for Call And Text Eraser. Very useful for those cheating on their spouses who don’t want their spouses to see bad things on their phones. Think Snapchat for calls and texts.

Leopardi applied some bad boy marketing to this bad boy (or bad girl) app. Essentially, they “said funny stuff” in social media and linked it all back to “”, all linked back to the CATE app page, helping the whole conversation go viral.

His point is that you have to aggregate with yourself to control your own marketing and send people to where you want them to go. It’s all about acquiring followership.

I’m not in any way suggesting I endorse the CATE app or this bad boy approach to marketing. I do however completely believe that your narrative must align with your brand character. The things you can do to promote an app that enables cheating are different than the things you would do to promote a product or service where integrity matters in any way.

Step three is engaging with your audience where they are to build followership and then leveraging social media tools to amplify your impact. A big part of this is leveraging a BRAVE new approach to social media and community building.


The New Reality of Social Media

7041 - Moscow - Tsar Cannon

Tsar Cannon (thisisbossi)

There is most definitely a darker side of social media. A lot of what’s going on and getting traction is wrong for a lot of people, a lot of businesses, and a lot of brands. On the other hand, as Leopardi puts it, “If you aren’t in the social media world, you might as well keep funding traditional media and wasting your money.” Ignoring social media does not seem like a viable option. Instead, leverage it to engage with the audience you choose to engage with in a way that is right for your brand, your business, and yourself.