Hello all you inquisitive question askers! It's Monday, time to come out of the weekend's hibernation and a perfect time for us to introduce Starting's Social Animal blogs.
Each week we are going to talk to you about creating a social media strategy for you or your business - in many of your cases this will be one and the same! We will also look at networking, network building tips and insights from those in the know.
- The Message
- Channels and Audience
- Timing and Schedule
Now all businesses are different, as are their customers and as a result way they want to communicate and share with them but here are a few ideas.
In this series we aren't focussing on social media as a sales tool but as a way for you to increase awareness of you or you business, meet collaborators and to share your knowledge, inspiration and expertise. To reach out and talk to your network.
We have identified two goals that are good starting points:
- Awareness of you or your business - Value, Provision and Network
- Sharing - Knowledge and Opportunities
What other goals could you meet using social media?
1. Awareness of you or your business - Value and Provision
To meet this goal your posts should be focussed on sharing current activity, describing your activities or products and their benefits to your customer or audience.
Talk to your audience about who you are working with (if this is suitable for your line of work, who is in your network, why are they great and what are you creating together?
Value and provision posts will commonly follow the narrative of a relationship including activities, photographs, voices and personal views of you, your customers or collaborators.
This goal also includes the sharing of and PR, media coverage or positive comment you may receive on your activities.
2. Sharing - Knowledge and Opportunities
Content to meet this goal will include the sharing of your insight and garnered knowledge. You are sure to have useful knowledge of areas related to your industry or niche knowledge specific to certain elements of your business.
You may not feel like an expert on anything in particular but you don't have to be. Everybody's skills are diverse and what doesn't particularly stand-out to you may be completely new and interesting to someone in your audience.
What is your area of expertise? Think big fish in a small pond rather than trying to be everything to everyone and focus on one or two areas that you feel confident sharing.
Sharing knowledge can be a great way to start conversation and to reassure customers that you know what you are doing. There are many levels of information that can be shared without risking competitive edge.
Hints, tips and mini-tutorials shared with you audience is unlikely to spawn a set of competitors. What is will create is trust in you that you have the necessary expertise in your area.
Alongside knowledge sharing you can invite your audience in by raising questions, sharing opportunities of interest related to your industry area and ways that they can work with you, buy from you or interact with you on idea or projects.
Don't be afraid to be yourself. In a marketplace where experiences and authenticity is important to customers as well as basics like quality and price, your personality, things you are interested in and the way you interact can be of great benefit to building a quality network of customers, collaborators, peers and inspirational folk!
Spotlight on knowledge sharing with Alison Coward of Bracket Creative
8 months ago Alison decided that she wanted to start sharing her expertise with her audience in the hope of broadening her network, attracting customers and inspiring effective collaboration.
She started a weekly blog called Bracket Mondays so that she would have a regular outlet for sharing her knowledge, insights and ideas. Alison found that writing Bracket Mondays has been a really useful exercise however it brought different benefits to than those predicated.
Alison has kindly shared her experiences of the project, key benefits to regular knowledge sharing and important considerations for those of you who are starting or upping you presence on social media.
“With Bracket Mondays, it’s been a really useful exercise. I haven’t seen any noticeable difference in terms of profile, followers or enquiries/new business but… what Bracket Mondays has done is the following:
Got me through the barrier of writing. I found it really difficult to write posts before, and the forced regularity meant that I practiced and it became easier. So the first step is to get into a writing rhythm (which if I’m honest, was my big aim), and for that it’s been 100% valuable.
Has given me a bit of gravitas in terms of my knowledge. The most popular theme I did was the “Doing, not talking”. I noticed a good response to this amongst my own networks, and so I guess it helped people to see that I knew what I was talking about. And I get at least 2 comments a week on how people like my posts – obviously a boost to the self-confidence. I’m just frustrated that more people aren’t seeing them.
Helped me to clarify some of my thinking, tools and techniques. As a result, I’ve developed a new potential product – training – through regular writing and sharing my thoughts - I’ve been speaking to a couple of organisations about this. And it’s actually given me the confidence to approach companies with this as an offer, and with more ideas around consultancy.
Gives me content to link back to with new and existing clients. When I’m approaching people directly, I can send them to posts on my website that I think will be of interest to them
Forced me to read regularly. This makes blogging easier, and particularly for the theme Big Ideas, I had to read books to review (although it was a big time investment! I don’t think I’ll do it again)
Highlighted the distinction between 1) creating content and 2) sharing content. I really didn’t realise there was one. I can’t just expect to blog and people will see it, at the same time, I need to have good content to share! Businesses need a strategy for both sides – even just regular tweeting/sharing on Linkedin isn’t enough. It’s a massive subject – is it for profile or is it for business development! AND it differs for B2C from B2B! It’s actually huge and a whole other project – people set up whole consultancies around this.
After 8-9 months of blogging, now I’m trying to figure out ways in which I can get my content out there more and shared more frequently - SEO, Linkedin, Twitter, in-bound links, guest posts etc. – this is really important to make the on going time investment worth it. I do see that as the natural progression though – 1) first get over the hurdle of writing 2) then find ways to share, although maybe I should have looked at number 2 a little earlier to have more of an impact.”
Alison’s company Bracket Creative is a creative collaboration service who specialise in facilitation, developing and building teams and supporting client's projects from concept to delivery by focussing on strategy, planning and collaboration.
- facilitate workshops and project kick-off sessions
- build and manage bespoke teams for creative and innovation projects
- organise and run events which encourage creative collaboration
What Alison highlighted regarding content and sharing is really important and is mentioned in the following video recommended by Starti.ng Founder Alex Barton.
It is sweary and long (101mins!) but there are 5 minutes of the video related to this blog and Alison's comments if you can't watch the whole thing! Gary Vaynerchuk discusses content, context and seeing social media as a marathon with long term benefits rather than a sprint with instant rewards. Skip forward to 16.07 and watch to 21.07.
Got another few minutes? This blog ‘It's Not About "Engagement": Using Social Media To Make Ideas Happen’ from Sarah Rapp on 99U brings you tips and stories from people like Dave Brown, Social Media Specialist at Etsy and Cindy Au, Director of Community at Kickstarter about using social media with a focus on collaboration, inspiration and a personal approach.
Next week we will be breaking down the different social media channels, your audience and some very important etiquette tips!