I’ll be the first to admit that using social media doesn’t come easy to me. I’m not entirely sure why that is, despite several theories, but though I was begrudgingly signed up to Facebook by somebody else and have enjoyed using Twitter for some time now it’s not something that I completely “get”. So when given the running of the social media for an organisation I work with, as well as their website, I initially found this task quite daunting. It seems that being ” good with IT” and being good at digital marketing are one and the same to many, though it could simply be that there wasn’t anyone else to do it!
I decided to use Facebook (as most of the organisation’s members were on there), Twitter (in an attempt to widen our audience further than the organisation) and Google+ (which was more popular at the time than it is now and a way, I believed, to encourage search engine interest). As is the norm with much of what i do, I utilised my IT skills to automate the job as best I could in an attempt to make life easy for myself. I linked up all of the accounts together so that all I needed to do was to create a single post and then that post would populate them all at once. I even wrote a script, and placed it on my own domain, using the various available APIs, so that I could quickly and easily post from my desk at work to get around the restrictive social media blocks that were in place on my employer’s network (at lunchtimes and in my own time, of course). Then I sat back and thought myself pretty clever!
This state of affairs had been in place for many years and it’s not been until recently that I’ve been in a position to really review its success. In some ways it’s worked and in others it hasn’t so I’m going to discuss this below.
On the plus side it did exactly what I needed it to. In the absence of any sort of social media involvement on behalf of the organisation beforehand it was a major step forward for them and really did assist with engagement. Getting news and information out to the organisation’s members was certainly enhanced – if not revolutionised. As I recreated the automated posting on the website as well, it meant that news traveled along several channels at the same time and increased the traffic on the site as well. It was also very easy for me; I posted information about the organisation as well as relevant industry news, just as I had been advised by the blogs of social media experts on the ‘net, and there it was – available to all independent of their choice of social media platform.
Where this solution fell down was, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the human touch. My posts’ levels of engagement were hampered by this scattergun approach because if I mentioned someone on Twitter using their handle then it made no sense whatsoever when the same text was posted on Facebook or Google+. The latter two platforms’ acceptance of hash tags made things a little better later on but this was long after I had instigated this as a solution. Similarly as replies to tweets didn’t get copied across to the other two platforms it meant that at least posts weren’t appearing elsewhere without any context, but that did mean that conversations couldn’t be initiated on Twitter.
It turns out, at least to me a long time after many others possibly realised a lot earlier, that the whole job of social media isn’t just throwing links out there to the BBC’s News pages whenever they mention anything even slightly relevant. You may think it obvious but it took a while for the light bulb to suddenly start shining above my head. The difference between “media” and “social media” is arguably pretty obvious – the “social” aspect. What I’d created was a one way, quick burst of 140 characters. Yes, it was relevant. Yes, it made my life easier. As an approach, though, it wasn’t the whole solution.
I’ve recently taken the above conclusions and rebuilt this idea for a different organisation in a similar situation. Call it version 2.0! Although I’ve still automated much of it, because I still appreciate making life easy and I still love automation, I’ve approached it from a different angle and got around much of the underlying issues that I identified in version 1. I don’t want to go into too much detail as I feel that it works as a slight edge over the organisation’s competitors in the same domain.
There’s a little more work to carry out per post but that’s the compromise and I think it’s one worth making. You can still achieve the human touch with automating your processes!