As I watched the DJ at a friend’s wedding change the music to get everyone out of their seats and dancing, I couldn’t help thinking about how strategic communicators and good DJs think in similar ways.

Our colleague Beth Kanter describes social media strategy as a dance floor and a balcony, in which organizations must shift between the big picture view of social media strategy and the more personal interactions down on the social dance floor. DJs hold the two perspectives together, orchestrating the party by shaping the experience and movements of each individual.

Your communications can do the same. When you mix the right beat, vibe and tone of communications content, you can get people engaged and moving together. You can be an idea DJ for your cause. With a hat tip to Tim Sanders (who offers the notion of idea DJing by mixing and remastering great ideas in his book Love is the Killer App), here are our top five tips to be a better idea DJ:

1. Plan the beat.

Good DJs don’t play the most energetic songs when guests are arriving or when their urge to dance is distracted by other activities. Similarly, you should plan your campaign with momentum, first gaining people’s attention and then moving them to the dance floor when they are ready to inspire each other as a crowd. Plan with tools like our editorial calendar, which can ensure that your communications efforts are in line with and supportive of your day-to-day work.

2. Sample brilliant ideas.

Incorporate the snappiest and brightest snippets of online conversations into your own content.  ‘Sampling’ across social network platforms can build on the momentum of a popular online exchange in a way that promotes your message. Instead of just re-tweeting something interesting, expand the idea into a blog post and offer your own analysis.

3. Know your venue.

Are you playing for an intimate venue of your closest supporters or on the radio for people who may be hearing you for the first time? Customize your communications based on the platform (Facebook, your blog, another organization’s blog, a news blog), and remember that venues that look the same can have different acoustics. Will your venue echo your message loudly and clearly or will you need to strategically place an amplifier to break through?

4. Know your audience.

Clever idea DJs don’t play aggressive punk rock when the audience craves the playfulness of show tunes. They also don’t wait to watch for a reaction to get to know their crowd; instead they take requests. Don’t be shy about asking your supporters what they would like to hear, about what makes them dance and what makes them leave the room.

5. Pay attention to feedback.

If nobody is dancing, change the music. Don’t be afraid of a new approach in the middle of the party, as those are the conditions when you can best learn what works to get your audience inspired. In fact, experiment a little. Try mixing it up for a song or two and seeing what happens.

(Image courtesy DJ EEEEEASY)

. . .

Holly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s chief engineer and founder who hopes you get your party started (and keep it going).