Yesterday as I was looking through my Facebook feed with my typical selfish focus I wondered if I should unfriend some people. I’m sure they are lovely people, and at one time I could have told you why we were friends. The problem is that too often I read their post and I am annoyed. It’s not that their is any particular egregious behavior that annoys me, let’s face it, sometimes I’m irritable and someone can get on my nerves with just the wrong post about labor strife, out of control kids, or dancing cats.
Stepping beyond my self focus for a minute I wondered how often the annoying facebook poster, or tweeter, or blogger is me. It was then I came to what I’m going to call Chato’s seventh law of Social Media: “If it is annoying in real life, amplify that by the power of three in social media.”
Because we don’t know the context of what someone will bring when they read a posts it is really hard to predict if they are in the right place to hear a sarcastic comment about kids or click into a hilarious dancing cat video. There is no greeting to gauge their interest initially and no reaction to gauge their level of annoyance and see if we have work to do.
That is why a little personality can go a long way for an organization in social media.
There are other corrollary lessons here. That is why I’m working on my book Super Simple Social Media. For instance, isn’t one of the problems that I would unfriend someone rather than be challenged by a different point of view?
Last night I was giving a short overview of how social media can be used for marketing for a class of graduate students. A student raised her hand and asked essentially, “What advice can you give us to be safe on the internet?”
I found myself with only one answer, “You can’t.”
It was actually a tough thing for me to answer because that part of the equation is far from being solved and in general I find social media communities to be fairly civilized places where you can control some level of privacy. However, there are competing philosophies like those of Facebook and 4Chan at SXSW highlighted in this article (http://www.geek.com/articles/news/4chan-founder-criticizes-facebooks-zuckerberg-over-claims-that-anonymity-online-is-unethical-20110314/) which seem to indicate that even in the world of social media elite there is debate.
The point is this, as in most things in life that have consequences, it is better to have thought through the issues and have a plan. Even a business that decides they don’t want anything to do with social media needs to make sure they have a plan and can articulate their decision. Social media isn’t something that you want happening to you.
Another student in the class shared how an unofficial LinkedIn site had harmed their business. The threat is real, not only to our personal privacy, but to our professional lives as well. It makes sense to take the time to think it through.
This afternoon, I spent a few hours working on a presentation that I will be giving on Monday and Tuesday to marketing classes. Besides trying to work through the challenges of covering of explaining social media and how it relates to marketing one of the things that I was really struck with was how data ages fast on the internet. For instance, I pulled up a slide that I had used two years ago for a presentation for senior executives about how to implement a new social media policy. For that presentation, I had pulled together a few slides of statistics. I was amazed how many are out of date. Two years ago Facebook grouped together were the size of the world’s most populous country, in today’s research I learned that is now third.
That’s a pretty minor change, but others are more important. Six months ago Facebook hadn’t launced itself into the online video business, and there wasn’t proof that Facebook could help spark a revolution. A few short years ago I was talking about how to implement a strategy to be at the leading edge, now I fear a lot of organizations are simply lost in the social media landscape. The innovators keep innovating, and then there is the rest of the field.
On one hand the gulf is widening, or is it. The innovators are actually making it easier for the rest of us. As communicators and markets get involved, the technical is getting easier because it is written for us and by us. Facebook is a good example. You don’t have to know anything about code to make a good fan page. Twitter is even easier, if you can handle email you can reach thousands of followers. As I look back on how fast the data about the web has changed I also see a change in its nature. The last ten years it was the technicians. The next ten years, it is about strategy.
This week I had the chance to upgrade one of the Facebook Like pages I manage to the new template. I have a few others I have yet to upgrade, but it was really easy and the new look is a nice improvement. It brings photos to the front, and the central “notes” section has always been easy to update. I prefer to update automatically by sending an RSS feed, like with Super Simple Social Media’s Facebook Page, but the other options are as easy.
What occurred to me is that within a week any business or organization that wants to upgrade to the new template can. Some would argue that the fact that all of these pages are the same is a problem. It’s not, because content is what differentiates. The places the pictures and text show up may be the same, but the quality of that content is different and that is where social media is a difference maker for small business and non-profit organizations.
Facebook has provided a great framework. Customers aren’t looking for small businesses and non-profits to have the latest greatest web technology. They will find you on the web via Facebook or a blog and what they are looking for is content. It is a crime that some organizations are held up from creating a web presence because they don’t know how to build a website. The truth is through blogs like this or a tool like a Facebook like page you can claim a space on the web that with a little nudge your stakeholders will interact with – if the content is meaningful.
What makes meaningful content? I’ll write a lot more about that later, but start by asking your customers. If you are a church maybe it is directions and the schedule for the week. If you are a small business maybe it is customer reviews or references. If you are a non-profit maybe it is pictures of a recent outreach or clients that you help.
An hour or two a week and these tools can make a tremendous difference – focus on the content – don’t let the technology stand in your way.
I was thinking the other day that a website is the tri-fold brochure of this decade. It is like when I was a marketing director in the late 90’s and everybody was running around thinking they needed a tri-fold brochure. Today, everyone is running around thinking they need a website. However, a website without a strategy for how to promote it is kind of like those tri-fold brochures that cost too much, often looked a little amateurish, and sat collecting dust while more savvy communicators were actually finding ways to connect with their audiences.
I’m not sure every business and small organization needs a website, particularly if that website is going to sit on a server somewhere and wait for it to be discovered. Blogs, twitter feeds, facebook pages all of these can be employed without a website and connect with audiences in effective ways.
The problem in many cases is that there is something comforting about the tri-fold brochure approach. It is tangible, and since everyone else has one it gives us something to check off when a boss or a client asks what we are doing to promote the business. The problem is that it doesn’t get results.
Super Simple Social Media started with the idea that great ideas need to find their audience, and social media should help that happen, not get in the way. As the motto puts it, “To free small businesses and organizations from the tyranny of the technical.”
While this site is intended to show a certain model for how to build a social media presence that helps your organization reach its goals, it is also supposed to be a place where others can share ideas that make social media easier. The truth is that the tools are out there, and there are as many ways to employ them as there are ways to make the world better through their use.
Another important point is that the key to all of the tools we will discuss are “FREE”! Of course there is a cost for time, and some things like adding e-commerce options cost money. What makes the approach of Super Simple Social Media is that we are trying to point organizations to as many free opportunities as possible.
Throughout the next several months I will be working on an e-book called, “Super Simple Social Media.” The plan is to give it away and hope it finds an audience. This blog, and the Facebook page will remain the hub both as a place for people to give me ideas and to find new ones.
Welcome to an open source experiment. Super Simple Social Media, let’s give a voice to those who can’t tell RSS from ESPN.
Communication and marketing are problems in almost every organization. The need to connect with customers, clients and stakeholders are constant and in the midst of that you have an organization to run. That may also mean that you don’t have time to learn how to use social media to fix the communication problems you have or reach new stakeholders.
Enter the idea for Super Simple Social Media. I have done the work, I have figured out a pretty simple way that fits most small organizations.
- Step one: Set up a WordPress Blog
- Step two: Set up a Facebook Fan Page
- Step three: Set up your LinkedIn Profile
- Step four: Link them all through the magic of RSS
- Step five: Log into WordPress and update your Social Media presence.
Sound tough – it’s not. It’s free and you can do it. This blog is here to help you out, and if you require help I can provide you with resources to get the intial set up and training done so you are ready to build your business Social Media presence.