Thursday, April 19, 2012

The land where perfect balance isn't a universal thing

Oh, social media. That thing into which we put so much time and effort. That illustrious indicator of all things positive in the world. Those metrics we all love to check. Catalyst for many insomnia-filled nights.

I love social media. The more I learn about it, the more intrigued I am. However, like many other things in life, the lessons we learn about Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest are relevant today, but might not be a week or month from now. Rules - generally speaking - don't seem to apply to social media.

That was made even more evident today when I attended a Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley event, titled "How to pick up, restart & re-commit to social media."

Panelists were Jen Van Iderstyne (Internet Marketing Ninjas); Aray Montalvan and Joey Hunziker (Proctors); Chris Chenes (Tri-City Valleycats) and; Maria Decker (The Jonesville Store) - and they were nothing if not impressive.

One comment that came from the discussion likely gave some relief and made others cringe: "There is no such thing as a social media expert."

Maybe so, but I think anyone who works with social media likes to think they have a leg up.

More important than that theoretical leg up however, is the responsibility we have to use social media to engage; as Hunziker said "People love when you respond to them because they feel like they're being listened to." 

There might be a tendency for those who are starting out in social media to focus solely on getting people to like their page, follow them, etc.; but what those who are in charge of or take part in (in short - pretty much anyone these days) social media in a professional context is that simply because your consumers or customers have taken that step doesn't mean they can't step back. 

Think of it this way: If you ask someone out and they say yes, you don't immediately stop responding or putting in effort. That's when the effort begins. 

Positive or negative - you have to respond. In fact, responding to the negative comments/posts could be more important. After all, anyone can respond positively to a "congrats, you did an amazing job on this!" - how you respond to a "hey, you sucked today; what the hell!?" will speak volumes more about your business/organization.

Of course, we never really get to find out what makes people follow or "like" us; or what makes them reverse the step. That's part of the challenge - and constant opportunity - of social media. You could safely argue that there is no perfect balance of what to post or how often to do so. 

In fact, that was the "agree to disagree" moment of today's SMBTV panel discussion. What works well for one organization - posting updates frequently throughout the day - won't necessarily work for another.

For us at The Record, breaking news frequently reigns supreme. However there are days when the top story can surprise you. This ebb and flow of our industry - like many others - can make figuring out social media tough. However, this ultimately provides for more opportunity than anything else. 

The thing that, ironically, I learned at today's event is that we will always be learning and evolving. Today sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit are huge; a month or a year from now no one can be sure what will work and what will fizzle out.

The constantly evolving lesson is, I think, the best part about social media. What do you think? To what kind of initiatives have you had a great response? To which ones have you had a lackluster response? What did you learn from either or both?


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