‘We do social media…’

I cringe when I hear that expression.

More often than not, the person saying it is in marketing or PR and there's a wide gap between what they claim to be doing and what you see when you visit their sites.

They crow about having an active twitter feed (lots of followers), plenty of likes on their Facebook page, a popular company blog… And technically they have set them up.

What they don't have is a good sense of what to 'do' with the channels – other than occasionally blasting a promotional message, asking a random question, or posting an innocuous thought.

There's a hodgepodge of content and no consistency. Why would anyone bother tuning in?

These people are the all-talk-no-action communicators who haven't realized being social is just that – engaging in a way that delights, surprises and informs the people you're trying to reach.

So for the umpteenth time, please take the time to participate.  Learn about social media.  Understand the psychology of connections, the intricacies of network theory and how the tools work.  

And listen. Listen. Listen.

Then, once you've mastered the basics, here are five tips to get started:   

  1. Ask yourself who you're trying to reach.  Radio stations used to have pictures of their average listener to keep them inspired.  Visualise your audience. Empathise with them.  Understand what they want.
  2. Figure out where you want to be (the end game) and how social media will help you get there.
  3. Don't throw a party in the middle of nowhere and expect folks to show up. Consider the places your community goes to and hang out there; in other words, start with the platforms they know and trust.
  4. Get into a publisher's mindset. Have story meetings. Brainstorm. Establish an editorial calendar with the reader in mind.  
  5. And when you do jump in, be entertaining, original, funny, smart, humble, quirky, insightful and always helpful, responsive and quick to acknowledge when you're wrong.

I's a long journey on a two-way street with lots of detours.  But don't let that get you down. Better to be patient and enjoy the ride. 

Do you have any other ideas to add?

About Martin Waxman

Martin Waxman is a digital, social media and communications strategist, content marketer, social media trainer and instructor and co-founder of three PR agencies. He blogs at myPALETTE and hosts the Inside PR podcast.


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TorontoLouise like.author.displayName 1 Like

A popular refrain I hear from genuine social media leaders is that you need to give more than you take. This means retweeting people, promoting someone else, commenting on blogs, long before you will ever need to ask for something yourself so that the relationship is already there. This is actually a good mantra for life in general.

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mikesgene like.author.displayName 1 Like

Interesting that a couple of your points reference mainstream media ( radio & publishers) and that the other tips have regular media relevance as well. Since I took my first online steps a couple of decades back (yup it started that long ago ! ) I've alway said that audiences and communication basics haven't changed that much. Lots to master in the tools, but you're so right in noting that mastering the psychology and theory is a good place to start.

martinwaxman moderator

Thanks @mikesgene. If you think about Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter - they're really new incarnations/extensions of media companies, but media companies nonetheless so, as you said, a lot of the basics apply.


Yeah, lots and lots of detours...

martinwaxman moderator

That's for sure @dibegin. Then once you accept that they're part of the landscape, you can start to have fun...

sherrilynne like.author.displayName 1 Like

Your tip no. 5 is not insignificant. Now you have to give us some advice on how to be all those things! :-)

martinwaxman moderator

@sherrilynne I guess that's where creativity comes in... Maybe that's a post we can work on together.