Objective: To discuss what businesses, brands and people serve to get out of today’s social media, including a look at:
- personal vs professional social media accounts – are we the same person?
- employee wellbeing and being constantly switched on
- is social media right for all brands?
- what value can social have for different industries and sectors?
- authenticity – are we all just striving to be a Buzzfeed / LADbible?
<Edit: 26 June>
— Fourth Day PR (@FourthDayPR) June 26, 2018
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In preparation for the panel, I thought through some ideas, though the conversation went in a range of directions:
- Why this debate matters and how describe relationship with social media:
- Being individuals, and the various hats we wear. Boundaries and healthy behaviour without assuming that digital is negative – or that screentime is all bad – whereas should be quality over quantity. Always seeking the positive re social/digital, although not a total Pollyanna.
- Should all businesses/sectors/businesses be approaching social in the same way? How can everyone find the right fit?
- It’s all about listening to audiences, knowing the purpose of why using social media, and the values of the organisation/brand and how that ‘speaks’ through social media. Marketing should be about ‘win-win’ and looking for opportunities to find ‘the right fit’ between buyer/purchaser. For small/individual businesses there’s a real chance to build networks, trust, and demonstrate expertise, whilst larger corporations can show a human face. It’s about purpose first.
- Going ‘viral’ – everyone wants it, but why? At different ends of the spectrum, should a charitable or faith organisation be trying to achieve the same from social as a global brand?
- For church growth, we’re back to aims/values – not necessarily about ‘bums on seats’, but a lot of my work on ‘discipleship’ (being the face of God/growing more like Jesus). Limited £, but CofE the other year hired ex-Bupa/Tesco as first Head of Digital, can see a concerted effort to be where people are at. See story re church festivals. *Bid writing – interviewing church comms heads re plans for ‘a digital age’, and survey churchgoers re how it’s landing.
- Irn-Bru, Greggs, LADbible… just a handful of brands often held up as doing ‘good,’ provocative or ‘out-there’ social media. How much should other businesses look to cultivate a similar tone of voice?
- If things are working, always worth to look at what others are doing.
- Large organisations must often ‘police’ hundreds of employees, and/or several departments in different locations. Is this a necessary process or is it stifling an authentic approach to social?
- Is it about policing them, or ensuring that there’s a human voice – trained in learning how to speak with brand voice. For charities, etc seems unusual idea that people who don’t chime with company values would work there.
- Is social media just something people think they should do? If we all ‘pulled a Wetherspoons’ and it went away tomorrow, what impact would that have?
- Was Wetherspoon’s shutting down social media just a stunt? Have they thought about the value there were getting from it and decided the purpose doesn’t fit? Or were they not doing a very good job (limited interaction, similar content on all platforms) and so it didn’t seem to work for them, and in the meantime they’ve lost space for conversation with their customers, especially customer service. Think about how e.g. the train companies use it well for customer service, etc. dealing ‘in the moment’, and Dell were early in using it to turn around much bad feeling towards their brand. Think about cost (£/time/mental health) and what works well.
- Many businesses encourage employees to have an active social media presence. Should we be encouraging social media for work when we already have such a switched-on attitude e.g. mobiles, constantly on emails etc.?
- It’s about the policies behind them. Think, e.g. France 2016, UK Social Media. Forthcoming chapter on ‘Digital Culture’, for Pastoral Challenges and Concerns: A Christian Handbook for Leaders inc content re good policies/etiquette. Frame policies positively, few national church policies (see Lichfield). Encourage people to remember the different hats they are wearing. Good use of email out-of-office to ensure able to concentrate on specific tasks, etc. needs to be well supported by companies, plus teams need to demonstrate e.g. all agree how speedy responses need to be (just because social can be instant, doesn’t mean it needs to be).
- We’ve talked a lot about some of the pressures but what benefits are there to social media? Is it just a case of making sure you develop it in the right way?
- Experiment, measure, build relationships, have some fun. Sharing ideas in progress and reshaping those through dialogue (rather than presenting an untested fait-accompli). Encountering different ideas (if you make an effort). Partly depends if you’re an extrovert – and like connecting – ensure put right person in the job (driving instructor, not mechanic). Explore/experiment – see what it adds, experiment with time-outs if you think you’re spending too long, etc. (you don’t have to obey the bleep).
- Take-away question: What’s the one thing today has made you think about – and how will it impact your relationship with social, both on a personal and professional level?
- There was a lot to take away from the event, but the standout which I think I said to video, was that we (should) have moved beyond whether social media is good/bad, it is, and how do we use it well?
Meantime, here’s the tweets collected from the evening:
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.