Branch report: Social media: meaningless frippery or serious business?

Earlier this year, Louise Landess spent three and a half days on Vancouver Island at Canada’s largest Social Media Camp surrounded by, learning from, and sharing ideas with social media specialists from throughout the country. She shared a potted summary of what she learnt with Christchurch branch members in November.

If there was one thing to take away from Louise Landess, it’s that social media should be anything but meaningless. Whether you’re an individual, or a business, you need a digital footprint. People need to be able to find you and invest in you. But what does that mean? And how do you achieve that?

Social media is real time engagement. From dark social (engagement you cannot measure) to your social tribe (the circle you actively connect and engage with), social media is about creating and using connections with a wide and unlimited, audience.

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Think about your social tribe… who do you want to connect with? This is where content strategy meets social media. Louise tells us that it’s not about the number of followers you have, but the quality of the followers. That is, in terms of building your business. There is no point in having a hundred followers if they’re only ‘following’ you in the hope you’ll follow them back. You want followers who are interested. Interested enough to talk about you and share you with their friends. You want to create a tribe of people who are as passionate about your message as you are!

So, what do you have to say?

Think about what you are trying to accomplish; whether you are looking to grow your business, or advertise yourself, you need to have a message. “It doesn’t have to be frippery,” Louise says, “post with a purpose!”

The best way to write something people want to read about is to think about what you want to read about. If there is a core passion that drives you, let it shine through. Most businesses have a driving idea; environmentalism, invention, filling a niche. Your social media posts should reflect this. Show the world that you are who you say you are, and you do what you say you do. Talk about what you’re doing. Share posts that reflect your passions. One of the best ways to reach out, Louise says, is to follow people who are passionate about the same things you are passionate about. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of a bit of trial and error – just start. You’ll get it.

“Edit! Think about your message!” Louise stressed the importance of editing. Treat your post like any other piece of writing. While a typo is a sure-fire way to get a hundred immediate, angry responses, it’s not the image you’re trying to push.

Don’t feed the trolls

And on that subject: “Don’t feed the trolls,” Louise said, “but do answer them – social media is intended to create connections. Otherwise, you might as well pay for traditional advertising and have done.” Louise went on to add that social media should be used together with traditional advertising. You want to reach more people, after all, not less.

Louise demonstrated a business model, originally developed by Canadian Social Media guru Sue Zimmerman, for effective social media. Begin with who you are and what you do, and spin that message through your blog post, podcasts, or slideshows. You’re looking to create published content that can be found. Promote your content using social media platforms – choose carefully. You need a platform that works for your business, and for your message. You’ll find a different audience on Twitter than you will on Facebook. More importantly, it has to work for you. The good news is that audiences between different platforms rarely switch between them – so if a platform isn’t working for you, you can start over. You can even keep your personal and private digital footprints completely separate.

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Grow and nurture your connections. Remember, write about what you are passionate about, and like-minded people will follow. Push your message out to your social tribe. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. The average life-cycle of a post is just 3 to 4 hours before it falls too far down the list to be visible. Post regularly.

Most importantly, keep going!

Key ideas to take away:

  • Think about your social tribe… who do you want to connect with?
  • Edit and post with a purpose – it doesn’t have to be frippery. In fact, it shouldn’t!
  • Beware of marketing for the sake of it – if your business doesn’t work with a facebook page or a twitter account, don’t have one. You need to be effective and different platforms can work better for different businesses.
  • Pick the platforms you like and stick with those, don’t try to use everything.
  • If it’s a chore, something is not working.

View the presentation here. There’s video too, but we’ve not mixed it yet. Comment if you want to see it!

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