Reminiscing about social…

When I started my career in social media management, working for a local authority, it was so very eye opening. It was exciting and it was captivating.

I dedicated a lot of time, day in ,day out to get up to speed with the landscape in local government digital comms at that moment because I knew it was going to be worth it, and it was. I met some inspiring people, and saw some amazing case studies of councils pushing the boundaries on social to build meaningful relationships that put their communities first. I like to think I brought a sense of excitement to  my team about the fact that ‘there’s so much more we can do then just post to Facebook and Twitter’ and I still think like that today.

Romanticism for social media aside, as the months went by and the use of social was growing, I was becoming more aware of promoted content and algorithms. It was proving complicated for users and boring for consumers.

After leaving the council and setting up my own business I’ve sadly become even more aware of the reliance and promise of PPC campaigns, promoted content and automation which puts me in the centre of a tough battle to sell…how do I sell my passion, creativity and understanding of what makes social media successful when agencies and companies are selling automation, scheduling and marketing tactics. Of course I could do all that, and tell people that, but isn’t it better to re-educate and remind people to put the social back in to social media? Perhaps public sector have more freedoms because they aren’t selling anything and their teams are still larger than the small businesses around the corner…so they’re open to hearing it. But they still have it tough, constant cutbacks, scrutiny and disgruntled tax payers…if you’re a business worried about bad feedback online,  you haven’t seen anything! Then again, perhaps they’re just better networked with experts, or maybe I share their values and so it resonates more. Food for thought as I find my way…

I’ve been told recently by a business advisor that ‘everyone does social media these days.’ But, do they? Are they doing it well? Are they teaching others how to do social media in a way that puts customers and communities first? I’m sure he was likely trying to suggest I find a niche, and that’s cool, but I couldn’t help walk way a little sad..that the market may well now be full of people promising quick wins and fancy tactics. Not customer focus and creativity.

I don’t like to call myself a social media marketer…I don’t particularly like the word ‘marketing’ (sorry!) but I do understand the utter importance and opportunity using social media channels offers for any business or organisation. Social media, done well, is about being  a person. One that communicates and adds value through entertaining, inspiring or educating their customer/citizen/client in the space those people  like to hangout in.

Before social media became (in my opinion) saturated with advertisements and brands, it was about connecting with others, in the moment. When something was happening in the there and then, the likelihood was that you shared it online. Those that followed you gained a sense of what you were doing as you were doing it. Scale that globally and it really is special….that you can talk to and hear from family or friends, thought leaders or your favourite celebrity, even your favourite artist at the touch of a button, gaining first hand exposure to what they’e doing in the moment, no matter where they were, is/was exciting. It brings people together.

Then the marketing came along, and the targeted marketing. Content was changing, tone was changing and authentic behaviours were disappearing.

Welcome the arrival of Snapchat. And Periscope. And more recently, Facebook Live. I’m excited again! I LOVE these channels and I know it’s already been blogged about but the fact that these are blowing up right now? Not only do they acknowledge user behaviour – mobile usage, rise of video etc but (for the moment) they’re authentic again. And that’s likely one of many reasons the younger generation are there.

It’s genuine, in the moment, and it’s real. You can’t schedule a snap, a scope or a Facebook live. There’s no script or backdrop, there’s no huge budget or at least there doesn’t need to be.

I’ve used Snapchat for a couple of years now and it feels really raw when you first get on board, like there aren’t many buttons or features and it reminds me of the early FB days when there was no ‘like’ button.

That can feel weird to some but it’s also amazingly clever – how it commands your attention. It’s full screen resolution puts me in front of that content and that content only. With ZERO advertisements (well, there’s some, but that’s for another day. It’s not a bad thing..it’s very cleverly done.)

Yep, Facebook rewards you for putting video up – you’ll get better organic reach for it. Yep the shear volume of content on YouTube and the way we consume information online is absolutely a compelling reason why we should be creating video and yes there are marketing strategies and statistics behind it all that can benefit and drive your social media efforts and help you “gain leads”.

But what underlines it all is a genuine reminder that if recognised, will excel your  strategy strategy: the ‘social’ in social media. The human element. The desire to connect with people and not simply sell or broadcast.

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