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Six social media marketing tips. And more. From the expert, Pam.

social mediaThree or four years ago, I attended a networking event put on by a local women-in-communications group. The event focused on social media marketing as practiced by two local professionals – one, a communications professional in the auto industry, and the other, owner/president of a PR/communications firm.

I blogged about the event for a website that focused on freelance writing. Looking over my observations from that blog post, it’s surprising how much still applies. Well, either that, or social media is still as much a mystery to me now as it was back then. And yet, I use it every day. (Pam has to wonder if she’s using it effectively.)

Most of the discussion focused on the nuances of social media marketing. You can’t just have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile and call yourself a social media expert. Even though much of modern-day marketing occurs in all three places.

Here are my notes from that blog post. I added my current thoughts in italics and would be most pleased if you found them insanely interesting.

1. When social media first started to take off, many businesses did not want to pay for marketing . After all, the Internet is free, right? Turned out a lot of effort went into using social media effectively. Over time, companies realized it was worth it to pay people to market their products and services through social media. I find the people who are best at this are most likely very social people themselves.

2. Technology is going to come and go, including social media platforms. It’s most important for companies to be where the customers are, which aren’t necessarily Facebook and Twitter. I don’t know where those other places are. Google-plus? Or is it plus-sign, +?

2a. Don’t tweet for the sake of tweeting. Some companies get “wrapped up in the tactical elements without looking at the big picture. Shoot for quality above quantity.” True of most things.

2b. Look at the product first before depending on social media to sell or market a product. Ok.

2c. Example: Apple has no social media team, yet they are one of the most talked about companies on the  Internet. Not sure if it’s still true. What’s true is Apple stores are more crowded than the ice cream shelf in my freezer.

3. Twitter is the finest notification system for what is happening now. Can also be the most mind-numbing. But I am finding ways to have fun with Twitter.

3a. Ford uses a digital customer service team to monitor Twitter. They watch for customer service issues such as “my brakes went out” and immediately reach out to customer. “We’d love to help you…give us your VIN number.” I got nuthin’.

3b. By reaching out to the customer right away, they stand a better chance of turning that person into a brand evangelist rather than an unhappy consumer. How freaking depressing to monitor a Twitter stream for complaints!

4. Social media challenge: it’s a human, personnel heavy commitment; different than traditional advertising and PR. Don’t know anything about traditional advertising so can’t compare.

4a. Sometimes there’s an unfair burden on social media to demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI). It’s also hard to quantify the good will you create by giving your neighbor a cup of sugar. After she runs out while making a batch of chocolate chip cookies. So I get this.

5. More on Twitter: it’s an early warning system for crisis situations. Facebook is “what happened.” Twitter is “what’s happening now.” Sounds about right.

5a. Twitter is a “river of information. Just dip your cup in every once in a while.” Very difficult for one individual to keep up with the flow of tweets, especially once you hit 300 followers or more. It’s also something to do when you’re standing in line at Target.

5b. Sometimes people (customers) blow things out of proportion. Can’t solve everyone’s problems on Twitter. Important to make the distinction between a legitimate complaint and someone who loves to complain. Hate those complainers.

6. Blogs! You have to spend more time reading and commenting on other blogs (3 times as much!) if you want to increase traffic/comments on your own. I’m so scatter-shot at this. It’s nice to “get to know” someone through their blog, however briefly you interact with them, but so tough to keep up.

Well, that’s it. I have quite the talent for note-taking and responding to my own comments, don’t I?

What social media marketing tips can you share?

And now for a quick commercial break – if you know of a student or adult learner who writes academic papers in MLA or APA format and might benefit from an easy-to-use guide, check out these books.

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October 15, 2013 - 6:17 am

Jo-Anne - I think this was a great post, and oh so true, some great points have been made

October 15, 2013 - 12:23 pm

pamhoughton - Thanks, Jo-Anne! 🙂

October 15, 2013 - 12:56 pm

Karen - This is an excellent examination of some of the questions I’ve asked–I’ve come to the conclusion that while some know more and some know less, it’s hard to find a true social media “expert.” We’re all students, and maybe that’s a good thing.

October 15, 2013 - 1:11 pm

pamhoughton - Right. It’s all so new, I think the vast majority are still in the experimental, play-around-with-and-see-what-happens stage. There is a mind-numbingness to it all…people can’t exist solely within social media either. So there are other ways to connect with people besides social media. I think we need to be reminded of that. Thanks for the comment, Karen!

October 15, 2013 - 1:36 pm

Sharon Greenthal - The thing I’ve learned that is most important – for me – about social media is to be generous. Too many people, especially bloggers, spend all of their time promoting themselves. I find the most rewarding thing is to share/comment on other’s work and be appreciated for it.

October 15, 2013 - 1:42 pm

pamhoughton - I agree with you, and I am probably guilty of that as well. We probably all have good intentions, but don’t always take the time to be as generous as we could be – because of the time commitment. I do try to make meaningful comments on blogs, especially if a post just hits me the right way. Thanks for your comment, Sharon!

November 6, 2013 - 3:26 pm


Great post, Pam, and very helpful. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. The more I tried to use it — scattershot, as you’d call it — the less effective it was for me. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging all at once. Oy … When I spend time trying to keep up with it all, I produce LESS work. Which means I have less to “promote” on social media. When I get busy and DO the work, I find I am more successful, and social media had little to do with it!

Here’s what I tell my workshop students: I still get the best assignments the old-fashioned way — when I contact editors and publishers directly via email or phone calls. It works better than ever, now, and is worth my time. Occasionally, I get an assignment because of my blog (so I do keep up my blog) but that’s usually because I ask the new editors to have a look there. My longtime editors never bothered, nor did they have time, to check out my Facebook links.

In other words, Facebook and Twitter never helped me sell a single thing. Most users wanted to see my cat photos or rant about politics. Meanwhile, the editorial clock was ticking and I was wasting time. When I left Facebook in March, I noticed my blog traffic doubled. People who never bothered to look at my blog, even when promoted on FB, suddenly came looking for me. Which led me to believe that there’s only so much material readers can be bothered with. Posting on everything all the time is like screaming until you lose your voice — and still not getting the attention you want.

Pam, I loved this line from your post and found it resonated: “Unfortunately, I also find social media to be the equivalent of a very boring cocktail party.” That’s the other reason I don’t bother with it as much.

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