When people hear the term social media, they usually think . . . platforms. I used to think this, too. But this isn’t the only way to understand social media.
If you’re anything like me, you want to know what the latest social media platforms are and how people are using them. They can have a tremendous effect on your business. Social media can provide connections, valuable real-time feedback, and an easy way to get the word out about your work.
Right now, for instance, live streaming is gaining traction. Users are figuring out the best ways to host live feeds and provide great content. But even with these platforms & features, it’s easy to forget about BASIC social media channels.
What is basic social media?
“BASIC” social media is a term I’m using to describe methods you already know how to use. These ‘channels’ or ‘methods’ have the same features as Facebook and Instagram because they allow others to comment, share, and ‘like’ your stuff.
If we limit our understanding of social media to platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Periscope, YouTube, Yelp, Foursquare—we’re ignoring the BASIC ways we can spread the word about our work. The 3 powerful social media channels I’m going to unpack are…
1. Social media = conversations
Have you ever considered a face-to-face conversation “social media?” I didn’t until I read Jonah Berger’s book Contagious. He argues that conversations are the original social media. When we share stories with other humans, we’re being social. When we share enough stories or conversations, we make friends or decide to get married. We trust our friends. We want to hear their stories—usually 🙂.
This is a powerful way to spread the word about something.
When we talk, we’re being social. When we answer questions, we use the medium of a conversation (going back and forth) to communicate. Medium is the singular of media. So quite simply, conversations are social media.
In conversation, you learn what movies to watch, which restaurants to try, and more importantly—what you should avoid. You hear about success, failure, and what’s happening NOW.
If more people did things in real life to facilitate conversations, they would be more successful in their social media efforts. Ditch the “platform posting calendar” and brainstorm ways you be “conversation worthy” outside of the Internet. If it spreads naturally offline, it will be more likely to spread online.
Questions to consider:
- Is your project conversation-worthy?
- What tweak could you make so someone would want to have a conversation about your work?
- Do you need to add something surprising or ‘purple cowish’ to get their attention?
2. Social media = texting
If my friend texts me about an awesome coffee shop, is that social media? If my brother tells me to avoid the mechanic down the street, is that social media? I’m engaging with a friend (social) and using the medium of phones (media)—so I argue yes.
Notice these scenarios directly affect the success of each business. I am MORE likely to try a coffee shop my friend recommends—especially if he takes the time to text me about it. If it’s really good, I’m likely to tell my friends and become a repeat customer.
And if my brother tells me to avoid Joe, the Ripoff Mechanic, I’m going to tell my friends to avoid that place because I heard a bad story from someone I trust (my brother).
Doing things that are “worthy of texting a friend” is a better way to “do social.” But this takes effort and thinking.
Questions to consider:
- What could we do or say that would make someone want to text a friend?
- What visual or scenery could we create to encourage people to take photos?
- How can we learn more about what our customers are already TEXTing, so we can do stuff that’s worth texting about?
3. Social media = email
Our email inbox is one of the most important and most personal places on our computer. It’s a place of importance. It’s a place where work gets done and bills get paid. When you email someone something important, they’re likely to do MORE than just open it. They’re probably going to respond, engage, and provide you with more information. (Sadly, open rates are what most email campaigns focus on.)
Seth Godin calls email ‘the home delivery service.’ With email, you have the power to deliver a personalized, hand-crafted message right to someone’s screen for them to personally encounter. I don’t know about you, but I NEVER read my inbox with friends. I read by myself. It’s a personal experience.
How often do you engage with email content that isn’t written especially for you? (Probably almost never!) Using email with a personal, conversational style is a more effective way to “do social media.”
Questions to consider:
- How can our email strategy be more personal?
- Can we afford a tool like MailChimp to insert First Names more intentionally?
- How can we use email to share more stories instead of BLASTING people?
Social media doesn’t mean it MUST be posted
To close, I want to encourage you to think about ways you can have more people talk, text, and email about your work. If it happens to get talked about on Facebook or Twitter, cool. But that’s not the goal. Your goal is to create content and deliver such a great experience for others that it begs to be shared. Not necessarily online... just in general. When you’re able to craft experiences worthy of being shared without the aide of Facebook, usually the platforms will take care of themselves.
Have do consider email, texting, or conversations “social media?”