The Secret to Social Media: It’s Social!

By Kim Lifton
President
Wow Writing Workshop

I met Pulitzer Prize winning journalist George Anders at a college admissions conference in San Diego a few years ago. I had no idea he was sitting in the back of the room while I was moderating a panel on the college application essay. But I did know who he was; I followed him on social media, and I suggested he cover the event.

The next day, George published a fantastic article on Forbes.com featuring our panelists, and my company, Wow Writing Workshop. My business partner and I were ecstatic. The article was just what we needed to bring some attention to our small company.

Coincidence? No way. This article was the direct result of old-fashioned networking done well, using modern-day tools: social media.

I love meeting new people. I like to get to know them, too. I have always been this way.  Curious and friendly. Chatty, too. That’s why I love social media. It allows me to stay in touch with friends I already have, engage in conversations with people I might otherwise never meet and brand my company on a scale much larger than I could have ever imagined.

I met George through Twitter. I followed him. He wrote a piece about a company I knew (but did not like), and I emailed him, telling him why. I kept my thoughts private out of respect for a fellow writer. But I did not expect a response. To my surprise, George responded almost immediately with a phone call. He appreciated my honesty and wanted to know more. He listened as I shared my views. We bonded.

A year after that phone call, George wrote an article that ultimately helped my small company gain credibility inside the massive college admission industry. And it all happened because I followed – and engaged with – him on Twitter.

How do you use social media? Do you spend too much time in the clouds, searching blindly for leads, only to be disappointed with the results? If you are a small business or a nonprofit, you can’t always plan the results you might expect using free online networking tools, but you can certainly do a lot to build your brand without breaking the bank.

We spend 2 hours a week posting and engaging under the Wow brand. You can do a lot in 2 hours a week, too.

Here are my Top 9 tips for making free social media tools work for you in 2 hours a week:

1.    Be social

2.    Share more than you sell

3.    Engage with followers: Don’t just post; “like” and comment on other people’s posts

4.    Develop a plan that is part of an overall marketing strategy

5.    Create a social media calendar with monthly themes

6.    Pre-schedule your posts using a bulk scheduler

7.    Use photos, videos and gifs

8.    Understand what social media can and cannot do

9.    Make sure the person in charge of your posts actually likes social media

Not everything is a sale or a party on social media. And you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars a month, plus countless staff hours, running a successful social media program for your nonprofit or small business. But you do need an online presence. Want to learn more? I’m running social media and blogging seminars this spring and summer. Join us to find out how you can use these tools more effectively too.

Kim Lifton is President of Wow Writing Workshop, a strategic communication and writing services company. Kim has been reporting the news, blogging, coaching & writing for business and nonprofits, and teaching students how to tell their stories for three decades. For more information, visit Business Communication Institute.