Coming late to the social media party

It’s personal.

I confess. I’ve often felt that “socializing” through a social media platform was about as warm as snuggling up to a cold and lifeless body. How could this possibly trump a glass of wine shared in the company of friends enhanced by lively conversation, the sound of their voices, the rising or falling inflection in their words? I couldn’t comprehend the popularity and rampant use of online marketing tools like Facebook and Twitter. As they grew in popularity, I felt myself digging in my heels refusing to be dragged into an impersonal and perfectly flat world aglow from my laptop screen. My totally linked-up son-in-law rarely hesitated to mock my resistance. Defensively, I argued that those who totally immersed themselves in social media lacked social skills and that hiding behind all the popular platforms was easier than getting out there and mixing with the world. Why couldn’t they just find dates the old-fashioned way—like hanging out in dark, dank bars. It was good enough for my generation, wasn’t it?

But that’s my age talking.

Today, I find myself slowly responding to the siren song. My recently launched Facebook page Cleveland’s West Side Market: 100 Years & Still Cooking continues to steadily build a “Liking” audience, and that gets me excited about the possibilities of social media. Although we’re still feeling our way around, my coauthor, Laura Taxel and I have embraced this particular platform as an almost effortless way to put the word out and rely on others to spread it around about book signings, events related to the release of the book as well as those surrounding the West Side Markets’ 100 year celebration.  

Just like being social in the real world, being social in the virtual world requires some skill building, often learned through making mistakes. Scott Kleinberg of the Chicago Tribune points out some of the most egregious mistakes people make while trying to be social. I’m happy to say that I’m not guilty of any of them because I’m that new to social media. But my days are numbered.

Professor Zeller’s shared interviews with those who rely on social media to promote their art, product, business, or social cause reveals that between them there are some recurring themes when it comes to being a social success.

• One platform does not fit all. This week, I mistakenly created a LinkedIn account and have been bombarded with LinkedIn connections that I don’t quite know what to do with yet. Wish I would have stumbled across Jamie Turner’s blog before I made this mistake. He breaks down the long menu of social media platforms into three categories: networking, promoting, and sharing and provide a description as well as weaknesses in each.    

• How are you going to measure your success? Establishing goals and setting your sights on the prize leads to success but have you created any benchmarks to gauge if your social media efforts are working? There’s no one method but Shama Kabani offers a quick and succinct look at how to track if your marketing effort are paying off.   

• Commit to the relationship. Like any successful relationship, the effort you put into using social media to promote, share, or network will certainly reflect on what you get out of it. Christina Sirabian says, “It takes a certain amount of time and commitment before it shows it’s worth.” From personal experience, I can tell you that the moment I broke up with my own blog, got lazy, and quit posting, my readers moved on to more fulfilling blogging relationships. 

• Be consistently consistent. It’s more than just posting on a regular schedule. It’s about becoming a familiar voice, knowing what you need to say, and staying on course. This blog from Katie Wagner Social Media expands on the multiple meanings of consistency when it comes to using social media.

• It’s not all about you. Or me, for that matter. It’s about being social, engaging other and not just promoting yourself. It’s about building relationships, authority, and credibility. Just because you have a marketing platform that has virtually no limits, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have limits. Posts and announcements should have value, be genuine, and audience your trying to build and engage should always be foremost in your mind.  PC World blogger, Brad Chacos offers an interesting 80/20 approach when it comes to using social media effectively.

A side note: Hot on the heels of saying, it’s not all about me, I will engage in a little shameless self-promotion and welcome you to our West Side Market Book Facebook page. I would appreciate any feedback or insight on how you feel about the page as we move through this class. I’m old(er) and my skin is very thick. Constructive criticism is always appreciated—mlou


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