Advice for Businesses Just Getting Started on Social Media

Earlier this week, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to some college students about social media. All of these students had communications internships with local businesses, which they were trying to promote. I gave them an overview of what social media is good for and they told me about some of their challenges. I hope I get the chance to do this again! Here are some highlights from our talk:

College students should start using social media now to kick start their careers.
College students. From Flickr user Sterling College.
Many of the students wondered how to break through their clients' resistance to using social media. Some suggestions:
  • Remember, you've been hired by this client to help them improve their reach and messaging. Social media is a tool that can help with this.
  • Most brands are now discussed somewhere on social media. If you can prove that there's a discussion out there about your client that the organization can't  join because they're not participating in social media, then there's a compelling reason for your client to get on there to join, influence, and help the discourse.
  • It's always good to talk about lost opportunities. Think about current events and how they might relate to your clients' work. For example, a client that makes healthy snacks could be taking advantage of increased focus on children's nutrition - contributing recipes, providing expert advice, and introducing their product to people who want to give their kids healthy foods.
  • Finally, don't be afraid to show clients what the competition is doing. Sometimes, realizing that they're late to the game is enough of a kick in the pants to get people moving.

One student explained that her client was a small private Christian school that did not even have a web site. The principal was overloaded already and didn't want to add to her workload with all of these online channels.
  • I wondered if a business like this might begin their online journey with a Facebook page. Since Facebook easily accommodates things like events, announcements, and information sharing, this may be far easier for the school to manage than building a regular web site. Fundraising, also a concern of the school, can be managed with apps like Facebook Causes.

Finally, students wanted some pointers about their own social media presence. Do they need Twitter feeds? Should they start blogs? I don't think that every person everywhere needs a Twitter feed or blog, but if you're going to pursue a career in communications, then you need to be out there communicating.

  • I recommended to students that they think about their hobbies, interests, and passions - are they photographers, travelers, foodies, bakers, or knitters - and blog about those things. The key to social media is quality content. Also, since your clients might not let you write for them in your own style or voice, having your own blog is a way to show people who you really are and how you really communicate. 
  • In terms of policy - just remember that if it's illegal in real life, it's illegal on social media. Plagiarism, libel, slander, and copyright infringement aren't OK in print or online. My other rule of thumb - if I can't share something with my Mother-in-Law, then I can't share it on social media either.

What have you learned lately about social media and what are you trying that's new? Please share in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment