Over the past couple of months, I feel like I’ve finally grown up a little in the social media world of business. I’ve been lucky enough to have several folks along the way share with me a few key tips. With their advice I’ve been fortunate to see viewership of my content increase 12x.
The world of sharing content can get fairly complex, burdensome on your time, and honestly overwhelming as everything continues to speed up. But with a few free tools and tricks from fellow friends, I’ve come to find out it’s actually a pretty easy world to navigate.
My journey started with an invite from our CMO, George Gallate. In a company-wide meeting he asked folks to get more engaged on Twitter and LinkedIn, asking us to help promote the Merkle brand and in turn promised that our higher engagement would build our own brands as individuals. That’s where the light turned on for me, and so my journey started. Here is what I’ve learned so far.
1. Social media management
I was approaching social media all wrong when I first started. I set a meeting on my calendar to spend 30 minutes on Twitter or LinkedIn each morning to share content. Let’s assume I do that each workday of the year ... that’s over 130 hours of time spent just in sharing. When I wrote my first article, I identified a group of thought leaders in my network and asked them to share the article on LinkedIn. A co-worker of mine, Joe Tobey responded, “I got your article scheduled on Twitter and LinkedIn.” And I thought “‘scheduled,’ what does that mean?” When I asked, he simply responded “Hootsuite, it works great.” I Googled, read a few articles, and in no time I was set up and saving time.
If you haven’t seen or heard of a social media management system before, here are the basics. You load content onto the platform and it posts at the optimal times your connections are online – for free. I typically read articles in the morning on my phone, and for the ones I have real interest in and feel are worth sharing, I share. But instead of sharing at 7 in the morning, I add a few into my queue so that folks can read them when they’re actually checking their social media sites. I happen to use Buffer because I find it easier to use (Thank you Milton Welch, my friend at Delivery Agent, for introducing me to Buffer). In fact, I often post the same thing to both Twitter and LinkedIn (another time saver). If you usually read on your PC, there is a plug-in that does the same basic thing. I’ve also found this useful for events or speaking engagements, so I don’t have to worry just before or during the event to promote my content. I just let Buffer do it for me.
2. Stop selling and start sharing
This one is short and sweet. As humans we tend not to like to be sold, especially if it’s obnoxious. Thought leaders are exactly what the description says, those who share their thoughts, not the ones who spend all day selling. I’ve found that when I push my own content, it gets about half the views of the content that I’ve shared on behalf of others. One might say, ”well, you must just not be that interesting.” That may be true, point taken. But I believe there is a deeper psychology that happens.
It reminds me of the Level 5 leaders Jim Collins talks about in Good to Great (older read, but still a great one to dust off and brush up on again – thank you Bob Wood for the reminder of such great content). The type of leader who has an aura of humility seems to attract others to want to do great things around them. I think it’s the same concept here. Promotion of self is a step away from meekness and toward self-promotion. Conversely, helping to promote those who influence you, or simply sharing good content with others, is endearing.So stop selling and start sharing, become a thought leader not a thought blaster.
3. Write your own content
The same principle of “stop selling and start sharing” works just the same for writing your own content. Our internal marketing director Stefana Rusu helped me to have an epiphany when she recommended I write abstract articles, versus direct self-promoting articles for our company. When the article has a broader-reaching theme and shares an independent learning for readers to take and apply, it tends to get published to a broader audience.
Why is this? Readers want to learn, they want to gain some insight. Again, being sold is lower on the totem pole for the reader, but if they can walk away with a new learning that applies directly to them, it grabs attention. It’s no wonder articles on LinkedIn that focus on self-improvement get high viewership; because, as it turns out it’s directly relatable to the reader.
At first this can all seem overwhelming, but once you’re committed, it’s not. I think for me, the first trick was to do it, to jump in and learn as I go. Remember a few ground rules, (1) don’t let social media manage you, you manage it. (2) People are seeking to be better; they want to learn, so help your fellow contacts by sharing, not selling. (3) Write, but keep the same “share not sell” principle in mind. As it turns out, writing is therapeutic!