On Tuesday I ran a social media bootcamp for executives and managers of DiverseCity, a nonprofit in BC, Canada focused on helping new Canadians adjust to life in Canada. It’s a significant organization with an annual budget north of $10M, but has not really ventured too far into social media yet.
The goal was helping the organization understand social media, see the opportunities as well as the challenges, and kickstart the process of integrating social into their communications, learning, connecting, and community integration processes.
We traced the history of media and the evolution of the web, contextualizing social media. Then I talked about simple ways to start, to claim space (usernames), to listen, and to start communicating.
Some of the key learnings
- The entire culture is moving online
When you see the numbers that we’re seeing come online, it’s impossible to ignore.
- 2.4 billion internet users
- 1.6 billion on social networks
- 850 million on Facebook
- 250 million on Qzone
- 500 million on Twitter
- 150 million on RenRen
What people know, HOW people learn, what they see, why they think what they think, how they connect, how they communication, who they communicate to … it’s all moving online. Which means that not having a meaningful social presence on the web is simply suicidal.
- A website is so old school
One of the key issues we discussed is that having a website is a little passé today. You don’t just build a website anymore. Rather, you cultivate a web presence. It’s a meshed approach, including many different components:
- Your website, yes
- Your blog
- Your social media accounts
- Other people’s social media accounts, posts, likes, tweets
- Press and PR stories about you from the “pro” media
- Your comments on other sites
- Links, reviews, and more
It’s a whole mix of what you do and what others do online that in sum adds up to an nuanced and somewhat nebulous web presence. Your brand is very closely bound up with this, it’s something you have at best limited control over, and what gets amplified, gets heard.
- Be remarkable … or you won’t “be”
If you want to be noticed, if you want to have a voice, if you want to be heard … you better be remarkable. You better be interesting. You better have something to say.
Because boring stuff dies. Irrelevant stuff dies. It’s not visible – it’s buried in the flood. And if you’re not visible, you don’t exist. Out of sight is out of mind … you’re not in the social graph, and you’re not in the interest graph.
And that means you are not in the lives of your stakeholders and users.
- It’s easy to get started
Most people at organizations that haven’t tipped to social yet are scared. They see a lot of noise, light, and danger. They don’t know where to begin and what to do … what the highest-leverage activities are, and what’s just flash-in-the-pan. Fool’s gold.
But starting is easy.
- Claim your space
Get your accounts on the major social and content networks. Make it unique to you, but consistent across all the sites you choose to participate in. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube are good starting points.
- Start listening
What happens on the major sites you’ve chosen to participate in? How do people communicate? What do they say, and what works and doesn’t work?
- Evaluate your brand
Is your brand – are you – able to stand up and be noticed in the busy, noisy dataverse? If not, what needs to happen? Does it need some updating?
- Feed the data monster
Start connecting. Start communicating. But pay yourself first – ensure you’re creating quality content on your own platforms (site, blog) as well as connecting on social networks. Share, retweet, and like others’ content as well as your own.
- Set up some monitoring
Ensure you understand what others are saying about your industry and you. Become part of the conversation – find your niche. And don’t ignore negativity: lean into it politely and humbly.
- Claim your space
There is a ton more that could be said, and that was. But it was a starting point. Perhaps next time we’ll get into more specifics and actions.
(Full disclosure: I am on the board of DiverseCity, where I serve as VP and Chair of the PR committee.)