Recently, I was assisting a nonprofit group with their marketing program. In hushed tones, they asked if I knew anything about Facebook and Twitter. These ladies are all very nice mostly stay-at-home moms who are working hard on a worthy cause, and many of them had faced countless hurdles in their lives (one woman’s house had recently burned to the ground), yet at the mere mention of social media, they looked frightened.
When I asked if they wanted to start a Facebook group, they exchanged nervous glances around the table as if I had asked them to go streaking down Main Street in Downers Grove. And get tattoos afterward. There was a long, awkward pause, until finally the president squeaked out, “Let’s do it!” Translated: What did we just do? She looked skeptical, hopeful and worried. Social media marketing has that effect on a lot people—much like tattoos and streaking down Main Street.
I would know, because that’s how I felt in 2007 when at age 37 I went back to work full-time after selling our family business. Within weeks, my younger co-worker Matt introduced me to Twitter (I thought he was stuttering). Then another younger co-worker Becca introduced me to Facebook and Flickr. I felt like Sleeping Beauty the morning after a bender (no beauty, just puffy allergy eyes). While I’d been birthing two kids and building a business, social media and technology had exploded and changed everything. I had a lot of catching up to do.
Fast forward to last year when I went from a creative director/copywriter with 20 years of entrepreneurial and consulting experience to marketing manager of a small technology company with 70 people. I was coming off of four years working for global companies with thousands of employees. It was both exhilarating and frightening because while I was doing a lot of things I know a lot about–copywriting, creative direction, traditional marketing–I was now responsible for things I had only dabbled in for fun, including blogging and social media. I had to get up to speed FAST.
It was overwhelming at first, but I love the challenge and chaos of learning new things on the fly. I was so out of my element–new gig, new people, new business–that there was more chaos than usual. I think of it as trying to run a marathon with both shoelaces untied on a bed of hot coals while simultaneously rubbing my belly and patting my head and chewing gum with two kids running after me playing with matches and screaming, “Mommeeeee! Are we THERE yet?”
With 20 years of traditional marketing behind me, I’ve had fun immersing myself in something new. I hesitated about writing that–who wants to admit that they don’t know everything? There are so many experts out there touting their extreme knowledge and superiority that it’s easy to forget that Facebook was launched in 2004 and Twitter in 2006.
Quick poll: how many of you think, “Gee, I should be doing something with my social media program—but where the heck do I start?” How many half-started blog posts are sitting in your post queue at this very minute? How many of you are befuddled by status updates on Facebook? Or have just dipped a toe in and are freaked out at what a royal time suck it all is? And how DO you get people to read your blog out of the millions of blogs out there? Or maybe you’re a marketing manager yourself who is new to all of this or the people you need to buy into social media to make it work wrinkle their noses at the mere mention of Facebook?
I’ve faced all of these questions and more in a very compressed timeframe, so I thought I would share what I learn as I go along. Social media as a marketing tool is constantly changing and evolving, so don’t fret if you feel overwhelmed. There’s no better time to jump on the bandwagon than right now.
I’ll start by sharing something new I just tried and fell in love with: if you manage multiple accounts–say LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook pages, etc.–you need HootSuite. I manage social media programs for several companies and it’s by far the best application out there for all the reasons mentioned in this fabulous article that compares the benefits of HootSuite and TweetDeck. Trust me, once you start building social media programs for yourself or your business, you will be glad you listened. For weeks, I’ve been too busy to dig into this and set it up, but tonight I did it in less than 5 minutes, and I had no idea what I was doing. Seriously, I’m the least tech-savvy person I know. But it’s SOOO easy, if I could do it, you can do it.
There’s no more opening and closing five different websites and applications to update Facebook, then Twitter, then the blog, then LinkedIn..you get the idea. (I do have my Tweets synced with Facebook and LinkedIn, but I am paranoid and double-check them every time I post.) No more, I tell you. I am taking back control with HootSuite. It even has robust analytics, and you know how much we marketing people LOVE our analytics. Except I can’t talk about that yet since I’ve only had my account for like 10 minutes.
Don’t worry. As I learn, I’ll keep you posted so you can learn from my fabulous successes and supreme failures. We’ll get through online marketing with social media together. Now let’s go get that tattoo.