Love it or hate it, social media has become a pervasive fact of life for many companies and professional people, delivering instant gratification as we see the number of views and ‘likes’ grow from the bitesize morsels of information we post. These snippets of life feed our insatiable curiosity for news, information and videos of eastern european car crashes.
What does this activity mean?
What does the effort to churn out content really achieve? Does it make us better informed and able to do our jobs, can it grow brand awareness and deliver better profits? Or does it flatter to deceive, being a gift to the egotistical and a mechanism that polarises opinion resulting in arguments and distrust?
In writing this brief note it has struck me that I don’t really fully understand the question so how could I possibly offer answers to these questions. What I can do, however, is give a view on what I know.
More visits to our website!
Over the last few months the PCA has made a concerted effort to up its game over all our social and electronic media outlets. The result has been a 400% increase in the referrals to our website from social media links. This in turn has driven more visits to the member search pages of the Association’s website and delivered value to members. So, mission accomplished – it works?
Well, undoubtedly in the short term, yes. However can a modest Trade Association such as the PCA, or its members, sustain the level of activity necessary to maintain these results? And what resources are necessary to not only maintain – but drive forward – this demanding and very fast moving form of brand building and promotion.
Content is king
Content is king. Andy (PCA’s Head of Communications) refers constantly to “social media ammo”. The guns (social media platforms) are easily accessed but it’s the quality and volume of the ammo that can limit the impact. The relentless demands of social media campaigns swallow content. This is making many people, like me, reluctant and highly suspect authors, photographers and video editors. Social media also gives a voice to anyone with an axe to grind and a keyboard. All protagonists have access to the same medium for publication and the same opportunities to be seen. There is no quality of truth filter on Facebook!
The need for content has driven a change in the way we look at the events of our daily lives, we wonder constantly how we could package events so as to inform others of our achievements, experiences and knowledge and get them to. This egotistical almost narcissistic outlook can be unattractive but is necessary if we are to successfully sell ourselves and our business though self-promotion and exhibitionism.
Be cautious when responding
There is also a temptation to challenge what we see and read. All too often we see posts that promote fiction as fact and opinion as regulation. The temptation to wade in and try to point out inaccuracy is almost irresistible. Do so with caution however and remember how a “put down” might be interpreted by those who read it in ignorance.
This new attitude to promotion is not without its risks. To gain greater profile you must have visibility. This is achieved by displaying our thoughts, actions and experiences in a way that leads to significant exposure. Opinions and deeds are open to everything from reasoned and stimulating questions and support through to ridicule and character assassination.
It’s not all about making the most noise
Social Media and all that it brings is a demanding mistress and one that must be constantly and thoughtfully stimulated if it is to deliver positive benefits. Those who make the most noise and are the most outspoken, will gain the most exposure but run the greatest reputational risks. It’s not a medium for the faint of heart.
The benefits of being a passenger on the social media merry-go-round are unquestionable but so are the challenges and risks. Organisations such as the PCA must now include social media as part of any communications strategy. Members demand it and consumers expect it, but a healthy balance between credibility and quantity must be struck. A plan is needed that sets out goals and the steps needed to direct your social media campaigns to affect those ambitions. Posts must be maintained and those that seek to snipe and troll must be responded to fairly and reasonably.
Promoting members is all part of the plan
The Association is set to continue rolling out its plan to work more to promote members through social media. We have plans to produce more video, blog, post comment and inform and although members may wonder why we are doing what we are, be assured it’s all part of a plan!
We encourage members to take value from our efforts on social media. The resources we create are done so with members in mind so, join campaigns, upload content, like share and comment, whenever you get the chance – even without creating content, you can make your presence felt.
More information and previous Hodgson Views:
- Hodgson View: Is CITB Delivering a Valuable Service?
- Hodgson View: The future of the preservation industry
- Hodgson View: Science and Technology Committee
- PCA Apprenticeship Scheme