Your (Social Media) Party

Author: Hamish Anderson

I have had numerous conversations with clients in recent months about social media, with specific focus on explaining to them what social media is and how they can better use it. Too many clients see social media engagement as “being on twitter and Facebook”. They are truly missing the opportunity and the point. Startlingly, I have had to point out to too many, that the comments section on their website for example is a social media platform too. As such, I’ve started using a crude metaphor to help explain things to them.

The Social Media/Party metaphor

Social media is not a broadcast medium. It is an avenue for conversation and a successful social media policy should be built on the principles of hosting a successful party. At first you may think I am slightly daft for proposing this, however, let me explain.

If you host a party and want it to be a success and want people to talk about how good it was for years to come (and let’s face it, everyone secretly wants this) then it is all about setting the right mood. Generally, success depends on:

  • Providing your guests with an environment they feel comfortable in (location, music, alcohol, refreshments);
  • Allowing them to mingle, move around and to chat as they want
  • As the host, making sure you move around the party, talk to everyone, listen to what they have to say, comment, and be yourself.
    • Sure, depending on the type of party (a birthday or something) you may want to give a speech which everyone listens to, but as a general rule, everyone is pretty free to do as they want and to talk as they wish without “having” to do anything.
    • Being yourself (relaxed, confident, fun) is essential, people want to know you enjoy them being there without being uptight about everything going on.

The same is true of a successful social media policy. If you want your social media efforts to be successful, and prompt people to talk positively about your brand, then you need to draw synergies with the above. To have a successful social media strategy:

  • Interact with your audience in an environment they are comfortable with
    • The right platform is key as there no use trying to connect with your audience on a platform which is not relevant to them
    • A key is to watch them and learn before trying to ‘host them’
    • Don’t try to change the way they use the platform, or at least don’t force them to do it.
    • Engage the audience, listen to what they say, respond accordingly; throw in the occasional information about things they may be interested in. Don’t overpower the conversation
      • There is nothing worse than being at a party where someone controls the conversation & brings the conversation back to themselves, or where they are forced to do things they don’t want to.
      • Similarly, a host may broadcast occasionally (eg the birthday speech) but they will not do it all night. If people want a broadcast medium they will sign up for it, such as a newsletter (or in terms of my analogy, will go to a conference where they know they are there to listen).

Hosting your own

OK, so you (or your client) now want to host their own party, and now you want to know what the appropriate platforms are to host it? Not so fast! Back it up.

You wouldn’t host a party without a good premise for doing so would you? People want to know why they are coming there over making the choice to go elsewhere and want to know it is worthwhile. So, do you have something which will entice them? Basically, do you have the content to entice; do you have a content strategy? If not, take the time to work out what you have to say to people, do you have answers for their questions, do you have confidence in your ability to interact with people and enrich them through your interaction?

If you can answer yes, then excellent, now you may want to consider where you will host your party(ies). Firstly, take a look at your content/premise for interaction and work out the best way to communicate this in an engaging way. Do you want to learn from people, do you want to work to increase understanding of your brand and so forth? Remember to consider that social media doesn’t have to be one of the broad spectrum platforms, nor a broadcast medium. Something as simple as a comments section on your website blog, or a forum on your website may be a good way to start getting to know your guests and begin your interaction. Remember however, you need to engage with them, thank people for their comments, respond to positive and negative feedback alike, learn from this feedback and grow from it.

With this knowledge, you should then look at what other environments resonate with your target audience. Find where there is overlap of where your audience is and the right platforms for you and you will have determined where you will host this ‘get together’.

Final thoughts

  • Do not become pre-occupied with one group of people at the expense of everyone else
    • Sure you may be engaging and lovely to this one group, but if you ignore the others, then the party will quickly fizzle. Social media is about growing your presence and connecting with all sorts of people/customers/prospective customers.
  • The party can run itself to an extent but if you are absent, what positive outcome have you got as a result of your initial hard work?
    • If spend all your time in away from the party (maybe you are asleep after putting the hard work into organising the party, but none into the party itself) in another room and the party rages around you, how will people remember you as part of that positive experience?  What will you get from the experience?
    • More worrisome for you will be what you do to get people back if they move on from you due to your absence and engagement?
  • It is ok to sometimes control aspects of the conversation or platform at times to protect the party
    • Same as you may want to lower the volume to stop things getting out of hand, you may need to control the conversation at times
  • This party has the potential to rage indefinitely if you do it right. Make sure you have a support crew to help you when things grow
  • Learn from what people say. In your conversations, listen to others, make notes and do everything you can to make sure they get a positive outcome from their conversation.
    • If you do this, people will talk to others about how good the party was and others will come to the party next time, your reputation will precede you, and isn’t this what you are looking to achieve?

Now enough talking from me, time for you to let me know what you think, or perhaps, for you to kick-start your own party! Oh and if you need an ‘event’ organiser, I am sure we can help!

Please also feel free to read some of the other blogs we have posted including:

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