By Caitlin Brennan

July 11th, 2016

Last year, we took it upon ourselves to graciously recommended a three-pronged listening and benchmarking plan for brand management and social strategy for Pied Piper, the fledgling start-up from HBO’s Silicon Valley.

It appears they haven’t taken many (or any!) of our suggestions seriously. We assume that the maelstrom of dysfunction currently consuming the company in Season 3 is a direct result of not listening to us. That may seem harsh, but after all, (Spoiler alert) they’re back in Bachman’s garage and we still have an actual front door.

Still, Falcon remains here to help, though it seems the Pipers need a bit more help beyond just a few useful suggestions. What they need is a real Social Media Manager. To convince Pied Piper to hire an SMM ASAP, let’s discuss a few issues our heroes have been dealing with lately and demonstrate how an SMM could have saved the day.

SMMs “pipe” up before crises hit
For something completely fictional, Pied Piper has a great product. Unfortunately, all that new fame has left Pied Piper prey to larger, and occasionally unscrupulous, competitors. To keep the corporate wolves at bay, they need to know what’s going on in their industry. Cue the SMM!

It’s no secret that Hooli is out for blood, by which we mean that magical compression algorithm. Remember Gavin Belson’s vanity fueled fall? An SMM could have used social listening to serve as an early warning system for Gavin’s scandalous editing of negative search results about his darling Nucleus platform.

GavinGif 2

With an SMM on staff, next time Hooli pulls something, they’ll be alerted when chatter spikes and can jump into relevant conversations to plug Pied Piper. Not only will good social listening alert Pied Piper to competitors’ shenanigans, it will offer an outline of the arguments that will be most successful against Hooli. Do you focus on the benefits of trustworthy search results, or the outrage at Belson?

In the Valley, you can’t see out
Pied Piper also had a few issues with their go-to-market strategy, (or a complete and utter lack thereof). An SMM would have been tuned into the industry and initial customer feedback, and could have helped better position marketing messaging. It wouldn’t have taken quite so long to learn that the public simply didn’t understand what Pied Piper does.

Living in the Silicon Valley bubble of multimillion dollar mansions and over-the-top nerd parties doesn’t do wonders when it comes to understanding end users. It’s crucial to define the product and basic mission in an easy-to-understand way from the get-go. Effective messaging tells prospective customers exactly how your product solves a problem in their lives.

Social listening would have explained why Pied Piper had so few daily active users. An SMM could have used that instant customer feedback and made adjustments quickly. Since they didn’t have an SMM, our heroes were left scrambling to figure out what wasn’t working after the situation had escalated. Very few startups come out of a mess like that unscathed.

Lastly, an SMM would monitor all mentions of Pied Piper. They would have an up-to-the-minute read on conversations online, on social media, in the news, and on blog comments. An SMM would know all the wonderful things people are saying about Pied Piper, (and respond to the not-so-wonderful comments.) Social customer service saves your team time, it’s easy for customers, and facilitates meaningful interactions.

Run efficient, optimized social media campaigns
Next, considering how busy the Pied Piper guys are, here are our suggestions for how an SMM can save time and optimize resource use.

Content planning
We only have a weekly half-hour window into their world, but one can only assume that there are significant periods where one or more employees isn’t creating, scrambling to fix, or covering up some sort of disaster. An SMM can use this slack time for interviews, training, and content generation that can be used whenever the need arises. That way, everyone can give their undivided attention to whatever they do best, like picking out sweet t-shirts:

pied piper social media with gavin

Track performance, adjust & repeat
An SMM for Pied Piper could start tracking online performance with social media analytics. By regularly benchmarking social profiles and posts against the industry competition, those metrics can show what they are doing well, and what needs improvement.

As with any campaign they choose to run, tracking the results of any investment they put into social is key. Develop a company-wide view of ROI, or return-on-investment. From there, Pied Piper will be able to plug any paid social campaigns into the overall ROI plan, measure paid campaigns performance, and make any adjustments to improve.

Real startups run like Pied Piper don’t get three seasons
We love Silicon Valley because it shows what happens when anything-is-possible techno-utopianism interacts with human personalities. No matter how good your product may be, failure to account for ego, greed, power, and even regular old confusion can sink any company. A good SMM armed with the right tools and strategy can turn the human element from a liability to an asset.


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