Today’s guest post is by Martin Waxman.

November 1: Halloween plus one.

Pumpkins are smashed or become a raccoon feast.

Morbid decorations are laid to rest.

And our ghoulish tendencies are put under wraps for another year.

But for kids, Halloween is far from over.

Now comes the time they’ve been waiting for: A much anticipated sugary feast.

When kids dump their candy collection on the floor, they see a wealth of possibilities and have to deal with a completely new situation.

They’re faced with abundance versus shortage. Shortage, of course, being their natural state of candy consumption for most of the year.

There’s so much colorful, sweet, salty, carnauba-waxy, stale stuff out there – all vying for their attention. It’s hard to know where to begin.

This situation reminds me of Clay Shirky’s analogy of social communications – a world of abundance instead of scarcity.

Social Media Candy Corn

The way kids approach Halloween candy can offer us some good lessons for the way we interact on social networks.

First a couple of assumptions:

  1. Candy = content
  2. We have a virtually endless supply (at least it feels that way)

Like children, brands that make a decision to jump into social networks are often faced with many appealing choices and they want to do all of them at once.

This is the communications equivalent of stuffing your face.  And we all know where that leads.

Strategic Consumption

So we need to come up with a candy/content strategy. Here are three things to get you started:

  • Sort it out. Don’t just dig your hand in and start gorging yourself. Take a step back and begin to organize your stash. Do you notice any trends and themes (i.e. maybe there are a lot of chips this year)? What are you going to eat first? Do you start with your favorite or save the best for last?
  • Savor the taste. Social media can be overwhelming and it’s not hard to become an addict. But that doesn’t accomplish anything other than making you channel-obese (and having a chocolate covered face). Instead, taste one thing at a time, enjoy it, see whether it lives up to its promise or if you’d rather move on to something else. And remember there are other more traditional food groups out there – don’t give into your sweet tooth simply because it’s there.
  • Spread it around. All candy is not equal. Take a good hard look at your piles and prioritize what’s most valuable to you. And then think about what might be valuable to your siblings and friends. Then get really creative and develop a candy exchange. Or better yet, share it voluntarily. (Especially with your parents.)  You’ll be amazed how much social capital you can build from that.

If you have any candy-related questions, I’m always happy to help. But I do have to tell you I expect payment in sweets.

Martin Waxman has his own consultancy and is a senior counselor for our Canadian partner firm, Thornley Fallis. He is a social media and communications strategist, founder of three PR agencies, blogger at myPALETTE, Inside PR co-host, social media instructor, and former fiction writer, comedy MC, and Winnipegger.