What do you think when you hear the term "Social Media"? Does it give you a warm and fuzzy feeling of connections, knowledge sharing, and having personal recommendations at your fingertips? Or do you cringe and think it's an overused technology tool that's taking away the concept of being physically social? However you personally feel about social media, doesn't take away the fact that it's growing, it's changing the way consumers shop, research, do business, and it's here to stay.
"We don't have a choice on whether we Do social media, the question is how well we Do it." -- Erik Qualman
As I was thinking about this article, I starting to think about my own personal social media journey, which started in college. I'm completely about to age myself, but who remembers College Club? I was a College Club brand ambassador, before being a brand ambassador was popular, at Sam Houston State University. Basically, I was photographer and my job was to go around campus in my spare time, take pictures, and get students to join the online college club community. In a few months, I made some pretty serious cash, and I was getting invited to university events (for free) because people wanted their organizations featured on the SHSU College Club website. After several months of working, I was laid off because the company filed for bankruptcy and was eventually acquired by Student Advantage.
I didn't realize this at the time, but this was my first taste of social media management, and I definitely didn't realize how huge this space would be in the coming years.
Today, it's hard to avoid social media, especially with the number of platforms available worldwide to millions of users. Casual users simply want to keep in touch with their friends and are not looking to build a brand or reach potential customers. Power users, want to keep in touch while branding themselves and growing business. Companies using "Influencers" to help promote their brands is a marketing practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships on their behalf. There are social media management apps and resources to help with social media optimization and marketing on all platforms, and the options are growing daily.
With all this social growth, are you maximizing your social media opportunities?
Using social media strategy to promote your business, your professional organization, your community programs, or your personal brand is a simple way to increase your followers. To start, choose a topic that you're most passionate about, curate content for that topic, and post. Sounds simple, right? Hashtags can help users find you and engaging with others similar to you, will also increase your connections. Starting off, you may not see much movement, but persistence and consistency pays off.
Recently, I started to see major growth in my personal social media engagement numbers. Looking at YouTube tutorials for optimizing twitter and Snapchat, better use of hashtags, engaging with others, and utilizing the online resources to measure my growth have helped me see the return on the time I've invested. In talking with others about how they've capitalized on social media opportunities, I connected with Jessica Starks via twitter. We initially met during the #Ambitionista Twitter Chat on "Collaboration vs. Competition." Jessica is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media strategist who owns J.D. Scribes, and I reached out to her to ask how social media has benefited her. Jessica responded, "Social Media has helped me land a number of deals, especially on Facebook. I knew that my target audience was very active in Facebook groups, so that's where I did most of my advertising. I promoted my business in local and business owner groups. Once you understand your audience and where they virtually hang out, it's not hard to make a sell." Speaking of Facebook Groups, Jessica manages JD Social where she shares tips and tricks to navigate social media and online marketing for small businesses.
Social Media platforms are constantly creating ways to engage, sell, and become the preferred platform for the end user. Keeping up with the trends can be a full time job, but using them correctly can expose you to many opportunities. After realizing this, I completed an online six week, social media course through Social Media Academy, where I took courses on all SM platforms. This helped me to better understand the use of each platform and how to maximize my exposure and reach. Shortly after, I was using twitter to promote my professional organization, and now I'm the Director of Communications for my regional group where I manage membership, PR, and Social Media. This past year, I acted as social media ambassador during the organization's annual leadership summit where I helped engage a large, nationwide audience through SnapChat, Facebook Live videos, and Twitter chats. This year, I've started my own social media business where I help small business' reach potential clients through social media marketing and optimization. It's still a work in progress, but I am working with several clients to grow their business' through the power of social media.
Hopefully, you're on board with the social media revolution, because if you're not, there is a chance you may get left behind.
Special thanks to Jessica Starks for contributing to this article! Now, I want to hear from you!
What opportunities can you credit to social media?
What are your favorite online tools to measure social media engagement?
What apps do you use to curate social media content?