Whether you are enthusiastic about social media or scared within an inch of your life about logging onto Twitter or Facebook, our Digital Clinic is here to help. We are all facing the same pressure to keep up with the frequent changes and demands of the various online applications and digital platforms. Campbell X, an experienced digital strategist and award-winning filmmaker, is here to answer your questions, no matter how trivial, about using social media on your creative journey.
Q: I don’t quite know what to put on social media. Can you help?
Campbell X: Many of my social media clients feel duty bound to participate in social media to sell their products, run campaigns, diversify their audiences or raise brand awareness. At some point ideas dry up and panic sets in. This “social media block” is pretty common and many writers will be familiar with this paralysis when facing a blank screen as part of the creative process.
I have worked out a quick ready reckoner to jump start the flow of ideas, and also to help choose the best platform for sustaining an enjoyable and fruitful social media presence.
A good way to start is to find out what other people are saying about topics you are passionate about. If you run out of fresh ideas check what other people are blogging or tweeting about. There are many free online listening tools. I recommend Google Alerts, Twitter search – I am interested in women’s role in technology, so I have set up a search for it on Twitter, Twazzup – really useful for finding influencers on your topic of interest and Google blog search – great for keeping up to speed with recent relevant blogs and bloggers.
Choosing your platform(s)
As an individual, it is better to choose a platform which best suits your communication style. This will allow you to work to your strengths and help you not feel stilted. As a company or brand it is good to work out your marketing and social media strategy first. Questions to ask yourself include, who am I trying to target and where are they on social media? Or what kind of communication can I use to tell people about my brand – images, text, video or podcasts? Social media may be relatively new, but the old adage “the medium is the message” is still as powerful as ever.
If you are better at writing, choose blogging platforms like Tumblr, Blogger or WordPress. Tumblr has its own internal sharing mechanism to build loyal followers within Tumblr. Blogging is a great way to get people to keep revisiting your website and to improve your search engine optimisation (SEO). Not sure what to blog about? If you set up a blog and your target is B2B, it’s a good idea to be on Google plus, which is Google’s rival to Facebook.
Do you shout at the TV? If so, I would recommend setting up a vlog on YouTube. YouTube is the go to video search engine and therefore the first port of call for users. Keep your vlogs short and punchy. Make sure the sound quality is good. Don’t have annoying music playing loudly in the background and make the widest image a mid shot to also work on mobile screens. You can also microvlog on Vine or Instagram. Vine only allows lengths of 6.5 seconds, and Instagram – 15 seconds. As a result, they rely on strong visuals and soundbites.
Most of us have smart phones, and can take and share photos which can spread globally in an instant. Just look at how Ellen De Generes’ selfie at the Oscars broke Twitter on the night when it was retweeted over 3 million times. The old proverb that a picture is worth a thousand words is very much the mantra for contemporary social media. Also pictures can overcome global language barriers. Popular platforms for sharing images are Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. If it is seen as annoying to Tweet about what you are eating, it is then imperative to put your daily dietary intake on Instagram.
Podcasting is a way to take your audience on a journey, as anyone can multi task while listening to sound. Good podcasting platforms are iTunes and Soundcloud. Do research to see whether your passion or idea is already in an overcrowded market on these platforms. Use a really good mic as quality sound is important. A cool tool for editing your sound is Audacity.
Remember, the “social” in social media is crucial. So whatever content you are producing it is important to share it across all the relevant platforms, and generate engagement with activity such as likes, comments, shares, retweets, reblogs and pins.