Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Photo Credit: Paull Young

Photo Credit: Paull Young

Way back when I started going to meetups explaining what this social media stuff was all about, there was one important message that I kept hearing over and over. In its simplest form, the message is this:

Social media is nothing more than word of mouth.

That’s it. It’s not about Pinterest or Twitter or Instagram or blogging or YouTube or any of the other mediums out there. It’s simply word of mouth. And those who are good at getting people to interact with them, to create stories and experiences with them and share these with others… those are the true social media practitioners.

If you have a blog or a website and you’re trying to use social tools to drive more traffic to your website, you are NOT employing social media, you’re building an audience. It’s not bad, they’re just two different things.

If I put a pen in your hand, does it make you a writer? A poet? An artist? Or just a person holding a pen?

So, before you say you want to engage in social media, define first what it is you’re hoping to accomplish. And then know that just because you’re sharing information through online channels, it doesn’t mean you’re engaging in social media. It means you’re broadcasting, answering questions, delivering customer service. The social media part comes when your audience, customers, friends, whoever, become a part of what you’re building. They take ownership for having an influence over your brand and they do so simply by sharing.

Social media isn’t new. It isn’t a tool. It’s a technique. And when applied correctly using tools, either online or off, it’s a more powerful force than any we could hope to harness individually. Because the whole is greater than the sum of its part, it’s impossible for social media to exist without a community behind it.

 

There’s a common misconception that social media is a cheap or free way to get your message out there. Many of us thought that at first. After all, there aren’t many barriers to its use, most platforms and apps at least have a free version available. When you come from a land where the monetary bottom line counts the most, sure, the use of online social tools might look like your free ticket to even more eyeballs. Except… they’re not.

When I lived in corporate Calgary land as the Electronic Communications Advisor at ATCO, we ran a contest for the 2010 Olympics. It was also our first opportunity to play around with social media. We had a Facebook page, I got the Twitter account up and running and we signed up for some listening tools with Radian6. We didn’t have much lead up time to building our audience before we launched the contest. And guess what? The social media bits were a flop. Sure, it felt warm and fuzzy to be able to post about all of the kids we were sending to Vancouver for a day, but what did it really do in terms of contest submissions and at connecting with a larger audience? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

In a larger context, it was a huge success. It was the first toe dip in the online social water for a major Calgary company. And overall, the response from those we did connect with was positive. Having Radian6 in place during the campaign helped me garner a lot of the data I needed to show our management team the types of conversations that were happening online directly related to our brand. Not our competitors, not some other company, but US. Yes, in this context, big success. But… do you know the hours and the fight I put in over the years to get that in place? And during the campaign, all of the time setting up the profiles and condensing the information into something they’d understand? I’d look at tag clouds, rivers of information, growing keywords and I could see the trends and get a decent picture of what was going on. But then again, I lived it, ate it and breathed it. If it’s going to be of any use at all, you have to.

Social media is NOT cheap. And it’s not low-budget either. It works in two scenarios. You either need the dollars to buy someone’s time to invest in listening or you need your own time to invest. And depending on who you are or what your organization is, it might not be the right fit for you. Do the evaluation. Make the smart choice on whether your time is better spent navigating this world and ensuring all of your current processes are running as efficiently as possible, or if it’s time to amplify your message. You might have bigger fish to fry first.

Remember. You first. Your health and well-being. Then that of your company/nonprofit/organization, this includes the employees, volunteers, customers and so on. If you’re all good in the offline world, move forward into the online world. But never, ever, ever to the detriment of your day-to-day operations. The internet amplifies. And if you’ve got problems, it makes them worse (Note: There are scenarios where we’re forced into online conversations in a time of crisis, but that’s the exception to this post). Or if things are coming along swimmingly, more will come your way. That’s just how it works. And you’ll still need a plan and a team and resources in place. Real resources. Time and money to ensure things continue to go well and you’ve got the support you require to handle the growth.

So, not free. Not low-budget. And definitely not to be taken with a grain of salt.

Cleaning Supplies for Spring Cleaning

Cleaning Supplies for Spring Cleaning (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

When you first hop onto the social media band wagon, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of discovering people you didn’t know existed, seeing how easy it’s become to find out about local events and goings on or exploring new topics. But there comes a time in each social media explorer’s life when the excitement wears off. You’ve ridden all the rides in the theme park and you need a new adventure. You don’t want to be rid of all of the friends you’ve made along the way, but your evolution to bigger and better things is inevitable. It’s part of the human experience. The challenge then becomes one of balance. How to embrace the new without alienating the old (unless of course you’d like to just let some of the old fall by the wayside) in such a way that the transition is the least disruptive as possible?

You could pull a Wendy and blog your frustrations on impulse… I wouldn’t recommend it. Or, you can refresh your approaches and your networks. This, I would recommend more. It’s what I did after I blogged my frustrations on impulse… and with much ┬ámore success.

How can you do the same? Easy!

  1. Identify what you’re no longer satisfied with. My kind of news isn’t typically what I’d find in a local publication. I had resources coming to me through people I followed on Twitter, RSS feeds in my Google Reader and the likes to bring me the information I was seeking. But over time, some of my interests have changed and some of my sources have changed their content. Where I once had an entire network to spark my imagination, I found it growing stale… which brings me to point number two.
  2. Whether it’s once a month, once a quarter or even once or twice a year, make the time to find new people to pay attention to, new relationships to forge, new niches to explore. It’s like spring cleaning for your closet.. you don’t keep the clothes you haven’t worn in over 2 years, do you? It’s okay to let some of these go. If you’re worried about hurting anyone’s feelings in your more person-to-person networks like Twitter and Facebook, consider using groups and lists to cull out who you’re paying attention to rather than completely unfollowing or unfriending.
  3. Find your balance. And I don’t mean between reading blogs, surfing the web, emailing, tweeting or watching Youtube videos. I mean the difference between turning your phone and computer on or off, making an active effort to attend local shows, having a “laptops down” rule at home after 7pm… you know, ways to enjoy the stuff that life was made of before the internet and all things digital took over. I’ve been making an active effort to do more and more of those very things in the last 3-4 months. It’s left me time to relax back into being me, rather than trying to keep up and feel “connected” all the time.

Keeping things interesting for yourself and for those in your life is an ongoing process. What are some suggestions you’ve found to be successful in keeping your networks fun and fresh?

When you become an expert adventurer (oh snap… am I claiming to have expertise on a subject? Sure am!), having everything served up to you on a silver platter by way of online recommendations gets a little stale. I miss the surprise injections of ideas and stimuli from parties outside my social circles. Surfing through Facebook, flipping through photos on Instagram, aimlessly watching Twitter feeds waiting for something interesting to pop out and catch my eye… in moments, most of my connections seem to be talking about the same topic, taking photos of the same subject matter and so on. My only saving grace is the odd witty caption, joke or sarcastic remark from a few people who are known for such. I’m understanding why many of you only chose to follow a dozen or so highly entertaining people.

My world is about digging up what others know little about. And while online tools still help me do this, it’s now become more like rummaging through the piles that most people would pass by in order to find those little golden nuggets. What I once loved about the interwebs was that most of it was unknown. We were still pioneering it. And it was a haven from the relatively ridiculous and mundane ┬ábehaviours that had taken over things like email (Forward this to 15 people on your list or you’ll have bad sex for a year!). Now it’s getting to a point where it’s becoming a civilized place to live. We’re appointing sheriffs and local law enforcement to keep the peace so we can all co-exist. But in that, if it means tolerating the overwhelmingly useless dribble or spending hours putting the right filters into place to weed it out… quite frankly, I think I’d rather just go elsewhere.

It turns out, elsewhere is “offline.” What? Seriously… hitting the streets, walking through doors I’ve never opened without having looked it up online, picking up books to read based solely on the cover (or off the recommendation of the staff in the bookstore who can’t ever shut up about the last insane book they read)… yes, finding the real nerds. Social networks are making the world too big. And when it gets too big, it loses its value for me. It’s harder to connect, harder to have genuinely interesting conversations. So, see you later interwebs. I’ll be back to use you for writing and publishing and the sort, but as far as supporting my adventuring pastimes, you just aren’t bringing me what I need. Expect an exodus of the nerds in the coming months. Surely, I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Whether it’s on Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google or some other mobile check in platform, if you’re a business owner, there’s no way in hell you should ever be checking in to your own business. Why?

It’s lame.

You’re there everyday. Say hello to us, comment on our check ins. But quit stealing our thunder.

Check ins. Highly social. Very much a game. I fight other users for my dukedoms on Yelp. And it’s cool, cuz we’re on a level playing field. But the minute a business has its owner or one of the employees as the duke, mayor, whatever other “winner” of the game, I stop checking in. And when I stop checking in, I stop telling my friends where I’m frequenting the most. It’s cool to be the most “regular” of regulars at the shops I love. It’s shitty when I have to compete with business owners, employees and anyone else that has an ulterior motive. And frankly, as innocent as it may seem, I put it in the “black hat” social media tactic category.

So if you’re in the habit. Please stop. A better alternative? Become a player yourself. Check in to the businesses you love… but here’s the real kicker… make sure they’re ones you aren’t affiliated with. Then you’re one of us, we trust you and we’re all better off.