Where Do You Even Begin?

This weekend I was at a girls weekend away with a group of friends, an event that was entirely organized through a Facebook event. A few times the conversation drifted to social media. Sometimes it was sharing information or news, other times it was expressing thoughts or opinions.

The group included 15 women of varying careers and interests, some with kids, some without, some married, some separated and some single. There was an age gap of about six years from the youngest to the oldest. However, the varying levels of comfort, knowledge and use of social media was really large.

I have been worrying that I am falling behind with social media, and I honestly am, which is the reason I am taking this course, however, in this sample of women, I found myself about average in use and skills. The range went from a women who is very active in many forms of social media both personally and professionally to a woman who had never heard of Etsy and until recently didn’t know what a hashtag was.

At one point one of my friends looked up a photo and asked us our impression. It was posted by someone she knew distantly. They had posted the photo with several hashtags to promote their business. The question was “does this photo make you want to use their services?”. The group was split from those who found the photo inappropriate and not professional to those who found it entertaining. The conversation then explored the idea that perhaps this business was targeting a certain kind of clientele and maybe these types of photos appeal to a smaller but like-minded sub-group. It was also considered that maybe they just didn’t have a clue as to the reaction their posts might be creating and potentially driving business away.

I couldn’t help but wonder “how do you determine what is the right photo or picture or piece of writing” to use to tap into the right market and if you inadvertently (or carelessly) aren’t appealing to those interested in your goods or services, how do you determine that and correct it in a timely way? I realize this is the path we are taking in this course but it seems so wide open to me.

I also can’t help but wonder, where do you even begin?

We are being warned about things not to post, most of which seems like common sense. We are aware of the privacy issues, potentially not the entire depth of this to be honest . We can understand that over-posting or under-posting can be an issue. I grasp the larger concepts. Potentially my blog next week will answer some of my own questions here but this weekend really got me thinking. I was literally in a ready -made test market of intelligent and well spoken women and one photo on social media used for one business provided an array of views and opinions on whether we were drawn to or turned away from this business.

We form opinions quickly. In some ways we have to because we are bombarded with information and access to services and businesses. This is great as a consumer when it comes to choice. However, isn’t it really scary for the businesses?

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3 thoughts on “Where Do You Even Begin?

  1. Great questions, Alison. One of our readings talked about how businesses have to use a variety of social media outlets, but keep their core materials ‘safe’ (available) as their use of the various platforms continues to shift. I think we’ll have to all learn how to surf the options and not get too tied to a sinking ship (e.g., Vine).

  2. I agree that it’s a frightening prospect for businesses and others trying to get social media ‘right’; I also take Anne’s point to heart. Knowing the tools and their various best uses will certainly help. But you also have to strike a careful balance between knowing your existing market (who and where they are, what media they use, what they like, etc.) and having a solid message that reflects who you and/or your company (brand) are and what message and values you want to reflect.

    Knowing your market might mean following a birdlovers’ group or association to see where they go birdwatching, what tools they use, what they wear, where they stay, what they say would help them have great experiences, and so on. You might get some useful feedback by running a contest where they post personal photos they’ve taken of their best sightings, or asking what tool or bit of knowledge they wish they had easy access to. Some online metrics would probably help.

    In terms of the message you/your brand are putting out, it needs to be consistent and genuine. If you’re into the birders’ market, can you post something about corporate donations to preserve bird habitat, or a video of staff enjoying a company-sponsored birding adventure? Look for something beyond the selling of your latest product or service.

  3. This is an interesting discussion. I work for a non-profit organization that has a mandate to be accessible to the public. I am not sure my organization ran eagerly to social media, or was dragged there by public demand and expectation.

    In some ways, I think for business there is a “damned if you do and damned if you don”t” component to social media. As your target market or audience becomes comfortable with social media and considers it a source of information, that creates a demand signal that business ignores at its peril.

    If your target audience is young and social media savvy, you must be the same all while adhering to your businesses core values and ethics. We could all attract more followers by posting provocative content, but that only works if it aligns with who and what we are.

    One that intrigues me about social media and the broader WWW is its ability to detect BS in businesses and individuals. Although some individuals can create totally false online personas, I think businesses cannot. I like that social media may be a driving force is steering businesses to be authentic and genuine. For example, if you say you are committed to good customer service, the online comments about your business should reflect that.

    I think risk is created as we attempt to increase social media follower-ship and/or digital engagement with flashy and/or risque posts. That said, social media is an ever evolving medium and mistakes will be made and when you make one, the WWW demands you own it, learn and move on. You must have an authentic online persona and that requires a good social media team to develop and manage that.

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