Last week I was inspired to share with you 13 things that I learned at Brand Camp. This week I want to dive deeper into one of them because it really resonated with me. #8 on that list was presented by Bryant McBride of Burst (@BryantMcBride). He is a 26 time marathoner. No that is not a typo. He has run TWENTY SIX marathons which blows my mind! The fortitude that it takes to run 13.1 (my speed) is amazing but 26.2 is a total mind game many times over. His message was about getting your company to where you want it to be. He spoke in terms of a start up specifically but the premise can be applied to an existing business that is just taking on a social media presence as well. He had four points:
- Believe. If you don’t believe in what you are doing it will never work. You have to have passion about what you are launching because you will run into people and situations where you are the only one who believes. Trust me, I made up my job. I created it because I believed social media was a critical part of evangelizing any company. Perhaps it was timed well or maybe it was because I happened to get a meeting with the one guy (@TommyRogers) that believed it too. I wrote a nine page proposal because I believed, more like knew, I could make a difference to their growth. At the time there was no such thing as a “Digital Experience Coordinator”. In fact I think that although many manage social media for brands across the world, I am the only one with such a cool title. I earned the title because I believed in something that exists in the land of the unfamiliar and I dared to be bold and brave.
- Prepare. Social media is a funny beast. You kind of have to jump in with both feet to stay competitive and in sight of your customers and potential customers. What you can’t do is do it blindly. Twitter is not for everyone. Facebook is great but for some companies Twitter is the better medium. Instagram may be useful for apparel companies and those who make it their business to interact with the public such as radio stations, charities and other types of business. You must do your homework before you begin. Nothing speaks louder to your customers than if you start an initiative and just simply give up on it because it didn’t work. Do not confuse this with utilizing a social platform temporarily for a specific purpose. There is a difference and if you aren’t careful your customers will extrapolate lack of follow through to your business acumen which could prove to be a very bad move. Do your research before using any social media tools and make sure you know who and where your audience can be found. There is a reason I don’t use Foursquare for business.
- Take bite sized pieces. You may find that there are several social media platforms that work for your business. GREAT! Do not try to take them on all at once if you are not certain that you can make them all work. One at a time is the best plan of action. Try one out and learn it inside and out. Understand when your target audience is best reached and what they like to see and read. Digest it and perfect it before adding another one on your plate.
- Don’t run out of gas. If you take on too much too soon it will be overwhelming and just plain not fun. You should love what you do. Bryant related his entire presentation to running which I probably liked because I am a runner. I know for a fact that jumping out of the gate too quickly means that you run out of energy quickly or you hit the dreaded WALL which for me ended up being mile 11.5 in my last half marathon. Not a pretty sight! Pace yourself by learning how and when to take on more. Don’t just take it on haphazardly. You have to acclimate before you initiate so that you grow at a steady pace earning your followers trust and some business along the way.
These four pillars as I’ll label them are part of what you should have in your social media bible. The rules by which you create and build and play in the social media arena. These are the cardinal elements that should not be broken under any circumstance for fear of crashing and burning. Read them. Know them. Live by them and your social media knowledge will grow as will your followers, customers and your reputation for being a thought leader and true contributor.