A Bit of Clarity: Using Social Media for Pageants

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Welcome to the guest blog we’re cleverly calling “A Bit of Clarity” by Claire Buffie.

Claire3[Not so] Quick intro:  In addition to being Miss New York 2010, one of Will’s video interviews featuring Miss America contestants , I am a photographer and graphic designer—visual communicator, if you will. I grew up in Indianapolis, IN where I graduated from Ball State University with a BFA in Visual Communications.Ball State is also where I learned of the Miss America Organization and began competing. After college, I moved to New York where I held a variety of jobs including graphic designer for a dance magazine, working at Apple fixing iPhones and more, and the entrepreneurial endeavor of pursuing my own business full time. I was hired in my most favorite job of all when I became Miss New York 2010 through which my advocacy for equal rights became increasingly public and allowed me to make the real and lasting change I had only hoped to make by the end of my lifetime. To do it by 25 years old was incredible and only motivation to continue myself, and to inspire and help others to do the same.

At Miss America 2011, I finished in the Top 12 and was voted America’s Choice Finalist. I want to share a bit with you about what I did to prepare for the opportunity and shed some light on the branding necessary of a “pageant girl” to stand out in this day and age of oversaturated communication, reality stars, gossip-seeking people and of course the constant interconnectedness of social media. I’ll share a bit of my experiences in addition to some of the amazing insights I have gained and continue to gain daily as a Masters student at Georgetown University in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. I’ve joked that this degree is just really an extension of being a state titleholder, but that’s not far from the truth. You’ll see…

Let’s start with the basics: Social media vs. social marketing


Are they different? Are they the same? Do they go hand in hand? Do I need it?

Media is an instrument of communication, so when you add the social component, you add the dialogue and the interaction rather than the pushed communication through a media channel. Social networking is the infrastructure, the channel, through which you communicate the content of social media. It’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, even MySpace if anyone still uses it.

Social marketing is powerful. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.

So as I see it, social media and networking are imperative parts of maximizing the effect of social marketing AND social marketing is what the Miss America Organization and the concept of a platform is all about. As individuals in a non-profit arena, we should all be utilizing the free platforms of social media.

Social media is necessary to spread any message and create awareness in today’s society. The key to social media is not bombarding your friends’ twitter feeds or having thousands of friends on Facebook, it’s about sending the right messages to the right people to enact the right action. Granted, there is a lot to messaging, and I’ll focus on that in future blogs, but for now, a few starter tips:

Connect your social media tools.
Tweetdeck is a great tool to sync your Twitter with personal Facebook and Facebook fanpages. With Tweetdeck, you can send one message to multiple accounts or choose to only select one account. I didn’t necessarily wish my friend Happy Birthday via Twitter AND my Miss New York Facebook page, but instead left social comments to my personal pages and relevant info to my fan pages. Tweetdeck also allows you to create columns to follow trends or groups of people. I have an MAO sisters column and an #equality column.

Be present, but not overwhelming.
Buffer is another helpful Twitter tool. Buffer allows you to create a queue of 10 tweets at one time that will be filtered out to your followers throughout the day. Buffer analyzes when your followers are most active and sends your messages out accordingly. This gives you a constant presence on social media, hitting your key publics and audience at the times when they are most apt to listen.

Use your 140 characters wisely.
Craft your messages with care and remember that everything you put on the Internet is out there for anyone to read, to take out of context and to save forever. Include websites and links, hashtags and Twitter handles of friends and colleagues. The more you include others in your messaging, the further it will spread. Have a call to action in your messaging, not just information.

Timing is everything.
There are tons of studies out there that map out when people are most active on social media, when they check their emails and when they’re just focused and busy at work, missing your tweets about Sally’s cute jacket at dinner last night. Here’s an easy rule of thumb to remember: Tweet with coffee, Tweet with chocolate, Tweet with wine.  May you don’t drink coffee or wine or eat chocolate, but what the means is tweet in the morning (7-8am), the afternoon when people are finishing up lunch (12-1pm) and in the evening after dinner (7-8pm).

Maintain your privacy.
The day you win a title—local or state—make a fan page. Direct people to your fan page rather than your personal page and provide them with what they want: photos, updates, news articles, etc. Fan pages allow you to accept requests from middle schoolers and political lobbyists equally. When your year of service is up, you want to be able to maintain the incredible relationships you’ve formed, but you will undoubtedly find that you have more “friends” you don’t know than do. After your year of service, check in to that fan page regularly and acknowledge the people who have supported you.

Those are my tidbits to starting a strong social media presence. It will build the foundation to launch social media campaigns when it really matters—like America’s Choice for Miss America, or better yet, changing a law in your state in regards to social justice and equality.

I’m super excited for the opportunity to share a little “Bit of Clarity” with you all each month! Thank you, Will, and thank you all for reading!

Claire Buffie
Twitter: @clairebuff

This article was written by Claire Buffie

photographer and graphic designer. equality advocate. marketing brain. leader.