Some ways you can use social media to get your message to the world
A woman is mugged at gunpoint in an empty Las Vegas casino parking garage at 3 a.m. She can scream as loud as she wants but no one is around to hear her. Across the country, another woman is mugged much more discreetly in the corner of bustling Grand Central Station during rush hour, the muzzle of the gun shoved in her back, instructions muttered in her ear, eliminating the option of screaming (as if anyone could hear her in the mayhem anyway).
Getting your message out can be tricky. As these examples prove, communicating with no audience can be just as hard as communicating with a gigantic one. Our current economy may not be Grand Central, but thankfully it’s not an empty casino garage either. If you have something to say and want your target audience to hear it, it can be done. Here are three ways to communicate your message with creativity, clarity, and continuity using social media websites.
It is interesting how social media sites like MySpace started out as a social tool for young people, and somehow we “old fogey” business people hijacked the entire phenomenon and turned it into a very effective business tool. Yet many of the business-minded still haven’t realized this and mistake all social media for what MySpace was five years ago. The fact is, social media is utilized differently by each user and it’s easier than you may realize to align the way you operate on these websites to your own goals and use the sites to your own advantage.
So, let’s say that you took the plunge into social media you created profiles for every last social networking site that was suggested to you. You’ve got your smiling face in the box to greet your fellow social networkers, your contact information displayed, your well polished bio posted you’re ready to socialize. You’re ready to make friends. You even posted your first status update: Here I am world! Be my friend! Let’s do some business! Let the games begin! Now what?
There are social media experts who could fill (and have filled) pages and pages of how-to’s about maximizing your time on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others (sites like mashable.com are also excellent resources). I’ve narrowed it down to a few creative basics that have worked for me on each of these sites.
On Twitter, with a little resourcefulness and tweet targeting, you can assemble your own demographic of followers specific to your business and your message.
A. Use hashtags (#business, #entrepreneur, etc.), to target other users who are tweeting the same type of content that you are. This may be related to your industry, your type of work, your target audience, or the content in your tweet. One tweet could even include a little of each. Sites like and can help you find the most pertinent hash tags for your tweets, show you similar other tags, and reveal how the tags are trending.
Have a case of tweeter’s block? Instead of banging your head against your computer screen each day trying to think of something interesting to tweet, or just letting your site turn into a virtual ghost town (this applies to all your social media sites), pre-write all your status updates. Set aside a small amount of time on a regular basis to think about the message you want to communicate to your audience and write 25, 50, or more social media status updates. Then, when you suffer a case of social media status update block, you’ll have a content bank to draw from.
On top of your customized audience of followers, with retweeting (other users reposting your tweets) you have your own free personal sales and publicity team!
Still blocked? Include these in your status update bank:
* Links that promote your outside websites (blog, company site, etc.)
* Engage followers through targeted questions and surveys
* Requests for expertise
* Funny observations (yes, it’s OK to be a witty, clever, normal human being on these websites without risking your serious business person reputation, just don’t go overboard).
I liken the demographic of LinkedIn user to, all the business connections which, way back in the days before the Internet, you would have to fly around the country to national industry conferences and business conventions to connect with. Now, thanks to this business-focused website, we have constant, virtual access to the same conversations, exchange of ideas, sharing of industry knowledge, networking, and contact exchange without the plane ticket and garment bag. Joining groups is a very effective way to narrow down the global demographic on LinkedIn. The Q&A section is also a great place to find answers, share your expertise and make new connections who may not have otherwise found you.
Facebook Fan Page
Not to be confused with your personal Facebook page, the “fan page” is where people could initially become a “fan” of but now can “like” a business, idea, celebrity, or just about anything else under the sun (including the sun; I’m sure there’s a page where you can like the sun). Unlike LinkedIn or Twitter, the Facebook fan page allows you to add a visual component to your message, using photos and videos, while providing interested parties more of an informal forum to get to know you, your business and each other through wall posts and discussions.
The beauty of all these sites is that they are vehicles for communicating your message in a creative way and on a consistent basis to the audience that you choose to communicate with. Social media may have been designed primarily with the social piece in mind, but the media piece is being constantly proven as a powerful messaging medium.
Christine Whitmarsh has been operating a writing and consulting firm, Christine, Ink, since 2003. Contact her at 562-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think, ultimately, it was a great awareness for these restaurants and it kind of gave them a little boost for the week,” says Cheree Boteler, event organizer.