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April 3, 2013

Do You Really Understand How To Make the Most Of Social Media?

Much has been written about how to use social media to get the most out of it for your business, yet it seems many people still do not understand what social media is all about.

There are many definitions of what social media is — my favorites include: SEO Zodiac’s description, which says “social media is simply people having conversations online” and Health Social’s take on it: “social media is the meeting place between people and technology.”

In other words, social media is not a one-way street, where you talk at your audience.  Rather, it is a way for you to communicate with them, to help them and to listen to them.

Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube are the most popular websites on the Internet because they allow people to connect on a very personal level, whether it be through posts, pictures or videos.

With so many people working from home, we have become somewhat isolated and crave the human interaction we’ve lost.  As much as the Internet and Smartphones make connecting to others easier, these tools have also made us hide behind our monitors.

If you take nothing else from this article, the main point you need to remember is, if you want to succeed through social media, you need to touch people’s hearts.  Find out what is important to them, what problems they are facing, what makes them laugh, what upsets them.  Then interact with them in a way that makes it easy for them to relate to you.  Don’t talk at them. Don’t try to sell them anything. Have a conversation with them — be interested in their problems and guide them to solutions.

I recently had the privilege of being part of a social media campaign run by the Australian Capital Territory Tourism, called ‘The Human Brochure.’  It is a brilliant strategy put together by one of Sydney’s great creative agencies, The Works.

The concept was to show both Australians and the rest of the world what Canberra (Australia’s capital city) is all about through the eyes of people who visit it.  ACT Tourism hosted 500 people from all walks of life for a weekend of fun and discovery on two different occasions.  There were four different streams to accommodate every type of traveller: Adventure, family fun, food and wine and arts and culture.

As we visited each venue, whether it was Questacon Science Museum, the Australian War Memorial or local restaurants, we got to share our adventures by posting photos, comments and videos on our social networks.  Family members, friends, colleagues, business partners and acquaintances then also saw all the exciting places there are in Canberra through our experiences.  And, since trust is such a big part of what social media is about, the added bonus to ACT Tourism was that we reached people on a very personal level and often with a humorous twist.

The human brochure is a social media campaign on a grand scale and not possible for every business to execute.  However, there are many other ways you can use the concept of human interaction, which demonstrate how the little things are really the big things.

One of the “big” stories circulating around while we were travelling through Canberra was that of a little girl who was part of the family fun group.  The child had left her bunny behind at one of the stops and couldn’t remember where.  So the search for bunny began … the bus drivers were alerted, as was the hotel staff.  To her parents’ relief the bunny was found in the hotel, so all ended well.  As a bonus the hotel staff member had left a cupcake for the bunny to enjoy until the little girl returned.

People talked and wrote about it and you can imagine what a great credibility booster this was for the hotel involved.  The simple gesture of leaving a cupcake for a bunny who meant so much to a little girl, cost the hotel $1, but will remain with those of us who have children for a very long time.

You can find out more about The Human Brochure here.

On a smaller scale, I saw a local ice creamery use social media to boost their sales.  The Chill Bar partnered up with Schibello coffee and Sydney Football club and organized an afternoon, during which members of the soccer club would serve ice cream and coffee to those who stopped by.

As a bonus, if you took a photo holding the coffee and posted it on Facebook, you got a chance to play a friendly game with the popular football players.

Needless to say lots of parents gladly brought their budding soccer players to meet their heroes, get their autograph, enjoy great coffee and gelato and, as a bonus, play a game with Sydney’s great soccer players.

Both the Human Brochure and Chill Bar demonstrated their understanding of what social media is about — taking what is important to people, making it fun and encouraging them to share it.  Not once did I hear a sales pitch — both campaigns were geared toward people enjoying what they were doing and giving them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

And yes of course I bought an ice cream for my son and his friends.

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