So I’m coordinating this very fun project with my friend Melissa Averinos called Handmade for the Holidays. Yesterday we were featured in a story about how local nonprofits and charities are using social media to promote their causes.
“Using” Social Media
It’s funny, because not only are we not a nonprofit (we are partnering with one to distribute the handmade items we are collecting), we never really set out to do this project only using social media tools and platforms. It just sort of happened that way — it makes the most sense for us, because that’s where we meet and interact with our overlapping communities of friends and fans. (Melissa has fans. She’s a fabric designer and an author. It’s pretty fun knowing someone who has fans.)
Using social media to promote this project made sense for us because we already have a gang there — a “platform” as they call it — and so we were able to just proceed as normal, talking to our friends, fans, and acquaintances like we always do, every day. The problem that many people and organizations run into is when they have an event, product launch, or what-have-you, that they want to promote, and they want to “leverage” social media to get the word out — but they haven’t done the work yet to make that possible.
You can’t “leverage” social media, folks. You get involved, you help a whole bunch of people out for a long time, you generally ask for nothing at all in return, you build trust, grow relationships, and expend a fair bit of energy without ever measuring a dot of so-called ROI.
And then, when you have something that is really, truly worth asking your community online to do for you, you do it. Sparingly. With any luck at all, the thing you’re asking them to do is something they’re going to LOVE anyway, and offers them real value, so that they aren’t doing it as any sort of a “favor” at all.
How It Works
So, to sum up, here’s how you “leverage” social media:
- Sign up
- Ask questions
- Start figuring out what people really value (Hint: NOT the opportunity to buy from you. Not yet.)
- Ask/ Offer/Sell/Talk about self
- Return to step 6
And “Give” usually means something like:
- Repeat something useful or interesting that somebody else said (with attribution)
- Promote somebody else’s work
- Praise somebody else’s blog
- Point to somebody else’s quiet good deed
- Highlight somebody else’s great, unheralded event
The point is, don’t wait until you’ve got something to sell, or something to say. If you have customers (or members, or donors), you’ve got some listening to do. If you don’t, you’ve got some helping to do.
The best part is, it’s a tremendous amount of fun. And yes, it really does pay off in the end. Indeed, it’s the only thing that does.