I was honored to be part of a panel for the Colorado Nonprofit Association‘s Leadership Luncheon on social media in September. I presented with Holly Ross of NTEN, Alyssa Kopf of Community Shares of Colorado and Adeeb Khan of the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross.
On this panel we were asked lots of poignant questions, but one that really stood out to me was the question of how does an organization stand out in the “clutter” of social media. Holly and I whispered back and forth before I answered – “it’s about the expectation.”
This is probably one of the most ego crushing parts of social media. Steel yourself against the truth I’m about to lay down. People will not read everything you post on social media platforms. People don’t even want to read everything you post on social media platforms. Not even your closest friends, family, most loyal customers and supporters will take the time to scroll through all the things you type into your social media profile.
People who say that social media takes too much time is not using it correctly. You should NOT spend time scrolling back through your feeds on Facebook, Twitter, etc. reading what everyone said in the last week. They have probably forgot what they typed and don’t care if you read it. If you really care about what someone said a few days ago find that person and read their profile.
It’s harsh, but someone had to bring the truth out. Okay, now let’s move on. So here is what you can do to stand out in the social media clutter.
1. Be there when your audience is there
This is social networking. It is a tool to connect people in live time. Social media is not some giant message board of dusty notes left up on some cork board for all of time. To effectively use social media for your business or nonprofit be strategic about when you are engaging in the conversation.
In my full-time position at the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, I have built our following on a day-time social media engagement schedule because that is when moms are most likely to be on the computer. During the day moms are able to tweet and update their Facebook statuses when kids are at school, babies are down for a nap or kids are outside playing.
In my personal social media use, I’ve built a different network of people because we all engage in social media after work or during night shifts.
If you are trying to reach a specific audience you will have to change your schedule. There are great tools to managing your engagement. Try HootSuite to schedule tweets for your prime engagement time. HootSuite also allows you to track your URL click-throughs so you can measure when you get the most traffic on your tweets. On Facebook, you can play around with SocialTomorrow to schedule updates.
2. Be Sparkly
This is a throw-back reference, but I always think of Jeremy the raven from the animated film The Secret of NIHM when I talk about this tip. Jeremy was easily persuaded to do anything for a “sparkly.” Something bright and interesting always distracted him from what he was doing.
The communications strategy in social media is to be the sparkling nugget that attracts people’s attention. Have information that people want to read. Have stories that intrigue people to click on your links. Write updates that invoke people to comment or at least click “Like.”
If you don’t get any interaction off a post, analize why and learn from it. As Holly from NTEN says, get ready to fail in social media. You just have to learn from your fails.
3. Post. A Lot.
This can be one of the most overwhelming parts of social media. Since you have to be there when you audience is there, that means you need to post. A lot. Post consistently. Post with lots of information.
Now, there is different etiquette for each social media platform. For Facebook post once or twice a day. For Twitter you have to post a lot. At CCIC we consistently post 15 posts over a 10-hour period, 4 days a week. For blogs post at least once a week, but closer to once a day the better. For each platform, listen to your audience and see what they want.
4. Get over yourself
No matter how smart, funny or informative you are, not a single person will read everything you type. I’m actually pretty proud of you if you got this far in the article – thanks for the read!
Our society is about short bursts of information. I don’t read every email. I don’t even fully read important emails. I scan for nuggets of information and move on. Your audience is the say way. If your social media posts are not interesting at that moment you will get passed over.
It’s really not you or the information you are posting, it’s all the reader’s fault. They are the ones with other things pressing on their minds, things they want to share and people to connect with.
5. Keep it up
It’s okay, you are still smart, funny and informative. Just keep cranking away. Keep sharing your information. Keep listening. Keep following interesting people. Keep interacting with your followers. Keep adding your personal spin of information to the interwebs.
The biggest thing to remember about social media is the conversation. If you are not engaging the right people in your conversation change your strategy. Experiment with the intention of failing. Have fun and keep on yapping!