Barbara Barnett is a Chicago-based radio personality, author, entertainment journalist and blogger, as well as Blogcritics Magazine’s co-executive editor. She kindly offered to share with us her advice for making the most of the world of social media.
Engage. Amplify. Evangelize.
These three words define the value of social media in a nutshell. Whether you are an author trying to sell your latest masterpiece, a not-for-profit trying to get out its message, or a company trying to market its latest product, social media is a crucial weapon in your arsenal.
Short blogposts or articles, conversationally written to draw in your audience are really the conduit to engagement with your target audience. Give them something to respond and react to, letting everyone become part of your conversation. Usually, a blog or a well-placed article isn’t quite enough. Engaging your audience also means sending your message through the labyrinthine maze of social media: Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbledUpon, GetGlue, Facebook. The list is endless. But each of those platforms is a conduit to more audience, more listeners to what you have to say.
What works and what doesn’t? What’s worth my time, and what’s a waste of time? Knowing how each of these social media operate and how they amplify your original message (or if they do) takes some experimentation in this brave new world of social networking and media. Twitter is pithy at 140 characters, and even with link shorteners like bit.ly, you don’t have much time to say what you have to say, provide a link, and “hashtag” it with the most significant three keywords. But Twitter is the most potentially viral of your message amplification tools. You need “followers,” and you need those followers to hear, process and amplify your messages by “retweeting” it to their followers. Exponential amplification follows suit. But Twitter moves fast; your message doesn’t stay on anyone’s radar for long; on the other hand, you can’t bombard your followers all day long. It’s bad form, it’s annoying, and will turn whomever you’re trying to reach into the opposite of a fan.
Facebook has two conduits. If you use Facebook to talk to your friends and family, you must have a professional Facebook “fan” page. They’re also free, can be designed to your custom specifications for easy branding. Facebook allows for lots of engagement as you provide the message and invite the community to “talk amongst themselves” in an ongoing “town square” environment. Inexpensive promotion options also exist to get the message “out there” to more (and highly targeted) readers.
Once the message is out there and you’ve engaged and amplified (but not cranked the amplifier up to “11”), now your fans will help take some of the burden by “evangelizing” your message. They like what they hear, read or see, now they not only can pass the word, but can add their own voices, personally endorsing what they love, and that’s really how your message grows (and grows) and may even become viral, spreading across the Internet, finding its way into many more social media conduits than you can ever think of yourself.
It’s a brave new world out there in the wilds of the Internet, exploring it takes time, cultivation, nurturing and some luck (and a bit of experimentation to know what works for you), but its all time worth spent.