The 6 big Social Media Lessons I Learned from my Frat

The nice thing about social networking is that the basics aren't rocket science, and you can get a lot done with a little common sense.  When you think about it, a frat on any college campus is a brand in a highly competitive social marketplace. So it turns out everything I learned about throwing good parties and BBQs finally has some real life value.

Here’s my list of the 6 Social Media Lessons I learned from being a part of a fraternity.

1.) Getting noticed is the first step, but it's not enough.  You've got a house, and you want to get cool people to come to your house and party. Why? Because you want them to tell their friends it's cool and raise the profile of the frat. Sound familiar? It's just like trying to make a facebook page popular or create an online community about a brand by finding and nurturing relationships with key influencers.  But that is just the first step. You need to attract people, but then you need a reason for them to come back.  This means you need to put on a string of events that know people will keep returning. Similarly in social, there must be enough content and engagement for them to return. (Otherwise, there’s always another place to try out, often right next door.)

2.) You have to please the people who show up every week, and really wow the people who only show up a couple times a year. At a frat, there are always the non-members of “friends of the house” who are there all the time.  Every week when you do drinks, they'll be there, and then there are the people who show up just for the giant theme parties.  In your community you'll have the regulars and contributors who become part of your community, and then there are the masses who show up every once in a while for a big event or guest post or that mention on digg. If you alienate your core community you risk losing your biggest supporters, but if you only cater to the regulars you’ll never grow.

3.) Popularity comes more from die hard friends of the house than the members.  The people who really make a frat popular are the people who show up every week, not the people who live there. Of course your team is the heart of your brand, but it's the core followers, fanboys and early adopters who will really grow your presence and recognition.  They are the ones who talk to their friends and get the message out with more authenticity than an actual member of the brand team could ever have.  They are also the people who liked you before you were cool

4.) Picking and supporting the right "friends of the house" is extremely important.   The core friends of the house are effectively brand ambassadors.  If they aren't cool they will drop the popularity of the house.  Can we say Ed Hardy douchebags? If they are cool they make you look better

5.) Popularity of Brothers in activities outside the house helps drive popularity of the frat.  This one seems obvious but it's so often forgotten.  A frat brother who's a star on the football team or in a cool band makes the house more popular.  Likewise if your brand's team has people with notoriety outside the brand context.  Your founder getting featured on apartment therapy, your chef competing on chopped, anything positive that happens to someone associated with your brand has a halo effect.  The reverse is also true so keep an eye on your team.

6.) You don't have to be the biggest and most popular house to have an awesome time, pick your niche. There's a lot to be said in being the most popular house with a certain segment on campus -  you have the various sports frats, the ethnic frats, the theme houses, the house with the best BBQs, etc.  Picking a niche for your brand and owning it is one of the best ways to grow and preserve your popularity and get the most vocal supporters who feel a closer connection with the brand.