To the many people who are not active on twitter or any social media platforms – and it’s not just fellow baby boomers – the whole social media thing seems strange and a waste of time. I used to think like that too. I still think it can be a huge waste of time if we let it. A few years ago, I saw the potential of social media for marketing and became involved.
It is still surprising how many entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners have no, or at best a very limited involvement with any social media channel.
Lack of time and lack of understanding of how the different social media channels work are the two most common reasons for this. From my own experience, I know those feelings too well and still believe that even with all the tools and programmes available today, social media can take a huge amount of time if it is not part of our strategy.
Social media are platforms or channels to communicate with individuals, groups or the whole world. Some channels may be enjoyable for us personally some not, some may be good for our business some not.
Communication is what makes the world go round and the way we sell our products and services. To be involved in effective communication means we have to be proficient in the use of language. That is the ability to speak and write at a level that our audience can understand. Some “old school” writers get distressed at the way our language is becoming truncated and bastardised by social media and texting. That is a debate for another time, from a communication point of view, the debate is irrelevant, the “new” language is a fact of life.
What we need to do is communicate in the same language as our target market. That could mean using only two-syllable words, abbreviations and slang for some age groups and relying heavily on a dictionary and thesaurus for others.
Good writing is still as important as ever, increasingly so in the text driven world we now live in. With hundreds of emails hitting most people’s digital in-boxes daily, the ones with well written subject lines stand a chance of getting opened. Once opened, only those with an attention-getting first sentence will get more than a brief glance.
One of my favourite bloggers, Holly Jahangiri recently published a post about writing, she compares writing to driving, her comparison makes a lot of sense. Although her advice is aimed at bloggers, it also applies to writing newsletters and emails. Read her post on her blog: It’s all a Matter of Perspective.
How best to explain the differences between the major social media platforms to those who have not yet become involved? Using Holly’s driving analogy, Facebook would be like driving around a familiar city, we could expect to see many of our friends driving around at different times. If we wanted to find individual friends or new customers who were not out driving, we could look for them in familiar places (groups) follow their tracks (comments on pages) or go to their address and leave a note (personal pages, messages).
Google + would be similar but with circles instead of groups and different hangouts. Linked In would be the commercial version, looking for our friends or contacts at their offices instead of their homes. On You Tube we would all have large screen TVs attached to roof racks on our cars and all our friends would have remotes to choose which of our videos they wanted to watch.
Twitter would be like a multi lane highway, many of our friends going the same way, some in faster or slower lanes, some travelling in groups, some overtaking and disappearing over the horizon. Not to be seen again until the next popular hashtag. Some turning off at exits. Some crashing out never to return to the same highway. People in cars going in the opposite direction, some exchanging a brief tweet, like flashing their lights to signal hello. Others continuing the conversation over time and perhaps changing direction to stay in touch.
All that traffic on the social media roads means that unless our language is clear, and instantly noticed, our message has as much chance of getting heard as a Smart car has of overtaking a Ferrari.
Wishing you Success.