Posted by: kwbrand | November 19, 2009

Lessons Learned About Social Media (So Far)


In May, I blogged about my opinions on the (high) emotional energy invested in social media like Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. At the time, I was skeptical of the real value of social media. It seemed to me that business leaders were acting less from a thoughtful conviction of strategy than because they felt the pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon lest they appear out of touch. I suggested that if marketing practitioners and business owners were going to insist on adding the social media options to their existing business activities, they should at least ensure that their efforts were an extension of their brand messaging strategy and adding real value to their audiences.

I’ll confess, I gave that advice with some skepticism because I had not seen solid evidence suggesting that the time and money (mostly time) people invest in social media is paying off.

Shortly after writing my little missive, however, I was invited by a local software company to a networking session during which we’d discuss the whys and wherefore’s of social media. I went, (mostly because my good friend and former client Meredith suggested it).  The host kicked off our session with the disclaimer that he and his team were in no way experts on the subject of social media, but that they would—as a means of getting the conversational ball rolling (and a genius soft sell of their services)—share their own social media strategy.

What really hooked me was when they shared that you could use services like Peoplebrowsr to monitor and sift through all Tweets looking for the search parameters of your choice. This appealed to me because I frankly don’t care what Paris Hilton is doing or that my cousin has a head cold (sorry, I’m insensitive like that). The only reason I’d consider investing my limited time in social media is because I want to connect with people who might be prospective clients, business partners or are thinking about things that will inform what I do. I selectively follow people like that and—given Twitter etiquette—they typically follow me back. So I’ve generated a small network of people who are in the business of marketing in Colorado or otherwise doing brand strategy and research. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The key word to the optimal use of social media is “interaction.” Yet, very few business people who are on Twitter or Facebook use their accounts to interact. Instead, they’re basically doing the same old, one-sided, push marketing using new channels (“Check me out!” Look at me! Look at me!). And I can’t really blame them. It takes effort to come up with evocative Tweets or status updates that are on-brand and under 140 characters. But when it’s done right, it generates interaction and engagement. A client of mine does a great job: Get Born Magazine is a women’s magazine that publishes “the uncensored, unvarnished and wildly hilarious voice of motherhood” and has used social media to generate fantastic and thought-provoking conversations on-line.
  • There are a lot of really smart people doing great work out there. Some of my new Tweeps are doing some great research and publishing great insights. I’m happy to share valuable content like this with my own followers. I have never re-tweeted or posted a status update of someone who’s just marketing themselves.
  • By always posting my website link onto the ends of my Tweets or Facebook updates, the social media work I have done has lured people onward toward my website and I have seen my website traffic go up 20 percent and the traffic sources diversify to include more referring sites.
  • This is social media so if, for whatever reason, you’re being anti-social, the party continues without you. During my maternity leave, my social networking activities took a dive and so did my website traffic and number of new Twitter followers.

The real measure to any new marketing endeavor, should of course be whether or not it’s generating new business and so far, no, it hasn’t. Given the nature of what I do, I have come to accept I have a very long, highly relational, sales cycle, so for now, I’m giving social media the benefit of the doubt and operating under the belief that my activities are generating brand awareness for KW Brand Translation. But I haven’t yet tested that theory so the experiment continues.

What have you tried and learned with social media? Let the conversation begin!

Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation

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Responses

  1. I’ve been handling the social media for my organization for about a year now. Things I’ve learned include:
    1) Know your audience and adjust your message. This is a chicken and egg thing, I know, but about 6 months in, we looked at who was following us and where. Twitter tends to be industry folks, Facebook tends to be alumni artists, patrons, and others connected with us personally. We put different content in each place as a result.
    2) You MUST respond. If anyone even sort of reaches out to you on one of your sites, you must answer, or you will lose them.
    3) As always, content is king.


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