Lesson #8 – Why do you post on social media?

Sometimes when you are scrolling through your social media feed, looking at photos of shoes or food or selfies, it becomes easy to wonder why people feel the need to post all these things.

It’s a fair question. And diving into all the deep psychological rationales behind social media posting activity is certainly the stuff of a book, not a blog post

That being said, from my perception, people ultimately make posts for reasons which are either internally driven or externally driven.

An externally driven person is relatively easy to recognize — they are usually posting things that are aimed at getting people to talk to you. They talk about events coming up, the things they do, the activities they are involved in either online or in their offline communities. They want to know about what you are up to as well

The objective of an externally driven person is engagement — especially comments. Some of them have figured out how to get paid for whatever they are talking about and others haven’t… but at the end of the day, they’re all looking for conversation and they hope you like a post, share it, or (most often).

An internally driven person, on the other hand, can be recognized by content that is typically focused on expressing their own feelings and thoughts and random moments. This could range from selfies and food photos to vague complaints and rants.

The objective of an internally driven person is to broadcast. While they may care about the personal validation that comes from comments, most of the time they are not trying to get anything from social media. At times it often looks more like a daily diary than anything else. Ultimately, they are interested in saying what they want to say, and in most cases do not care about whether it gets results or not.

On a basic level, both motivations for posting on social media are perfectly valid. And lots of people combine a little bit of both approaches. However, when it comes to getting marketing results, external motivations usually win the day with potential audience members.

The Never-Ending Work Week

Greg and I have been working pretty hard lately. (Even more so than usual.)

So much so that when I saw the graphic below, I burst out laughing:

the entrepreneur's work week

It’s the truth for a lot of us. Especially in the early years — you pour your heart and soul into your company, along with a lot of incredibly long hours.

It’s hard to break out of that mold. But one of the first and most important steps to ending your never-ending work week is to learn how to delegate.

That may sound easy, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Most solo and duo entrepreneurs take great pride in the quality of their work or the speed of its turnaround. It becomes a lot harder to control that when you bring employees into the equation. You need to learn how to manage based on other people’s needs and skill sets.

That’s not an easy adjustment to make, but it is essential when you are trying to grow.

To make it work, you must establish processes which can be followed by everyone, to maintain quality controls and ensure that everything is done on time. You must open lines of communication and develop a company culture (not to mention taking on the added challenges related to finance, insurance, and other assorted kinds of paperwork).

We’re still in the early stages of growing CT Social, and it doesn’t seem like the never-ending work week is getting any shorter just yet. But the glimmer of possibilities are on the horizon, and that’s makes this an exciting time all the same.

Lesson #7 – How to get to know your social media client

When it’s done right, social media reflects the heart and soul of an organization.

It cuts to the heart of the brand’s message and presents it in a storytelling-oriented way which appeals to an appropriate audience.

As you might imagine, it can be challenging to do this as an outsider. Whether a company hires a new community manager or hires an agency to handle the campaign, there is always a “getting to know you” period.

Some companies have brand guidelines in place, which certainly can help to give you a head start. But ultimately, there is nothing quite like spending time with the company up close and personal.

Of course, it goes without saying that the new community manager can read about the company online (most of the time), or research them in publications or talk to the client about the company over the phone.

But when it comes right down to it, there is nothing quite like getting up close and personal with the subject at hand.

Does the client have a physical location? Go there. Spend some time walking around. Look at products or wall art or whatever is there. Absorb the atmosphere. Participate in the activity or buy something.

Who does the client serve? Find out if you can talk to them about their experiences. Get first-hand narratives and stories about how the organization impacted that person. Or talk to staff about their quality of life and their work environment.

Are they an online-only company? Come up with a list of things that a potential customer might be looking for, or experiences they might want. Put yourself in their shoes and give it a try.

Language immersion programs work for a reason — they force you to get close to the language, interact, and learn by doing. Getting to know a new social media client ultimately works the same way. Research can introduce you, but direct interactions breed the most familiarity.

Are You Treating Creativity Like a Vending Machine?

In 2002, University of Toronto Professor Richard Florida published a book called The Rise of the Creative Class. At the time, it presented a revolutionary concept: the notion that the future of cities would depend on their ability to appeal to a new “Creative Class” of professionals.

Florida seems to look back at that reception with some amusement, noting how commonplace the philosophies of creativity he outlined are now becoming. Few cities doubt the importance of an arts and culture scene, or a parks-centered urban environment. Most recognize the need to create livable environments which attract talent. (Our home, Orlando, is following this approach in numerous demonstrable ways.)

In the preface to his 2012 revised edition of the book, Florida writes:

“The key thesis of my argument is as simple as it is basic: every human being is creative. That the Creative Class enjoys vast privileges is true, but to acknowledge that fact is not to endorse it. The essential task before us is to unleash the creative energies, talent, and potential of everyone — to build a society that acknowledges and nurtures the creativity of each and every human being.”

It’s a beautiful thought, and one I certainly agree with. I believe that the rise of the Internet and web-based business has driven this cultural shift, and that the recession of 2008 kicked it into gear by forcing people to make different career choices than they might have made in a stronger economy.

Despite this, in my day to day work life as a creative professional, I sometimes feel that creatives are treated as though their work has little more value than the chocolate bar that comes out of the vending machine… like they just need to insert the correct number of quarters and press the corresponding buttons, and out pops a website or a logo or a social media post.

Feeling like creative work is unappreciated can be frustrating, of course. But more than that, it makes me sad.

are you treating creativity like a vending machine

First, it shows that the person may not be in touch with their own creativity. As Florida says, everyone is creative — but a lot of people spend most of their lives with that sense of wonder locked away. Attempting to unlock it can be frustrating because it yields miscommunication and both accidental and intentional disrespect.

When a business signs with a new digital marketing agency, the sense of enthusiasm always pervades the project. There is hope for the future and, generally speaking, positive and productive communication. Everyone gets excited by what could be.

However, it rarely takes long before cold reality intrudes on creative ideas and approaches. A disagreement will pop up, or the client will find something the creative professional produces unacceptable for one reason or another.

In that moment, both parties’ approach to communication may define the relationship moving forward.

If the creative professional chooses to be arrogant, rude, or inconsiderate of the client’s thoughts, the client may feel that their creativity on the project no longer matter — which can be a huge problem, leading to dissatisfied clients and projects with limited utility for the business.

For their part, if the client is (accidentally or intentionally) disrespectful, dismissive, or discouraging about the work which has been done, creative professionals may become disheartened or angry, ultimately putting less effort and creativity into doing the project well. They will almost certainly resent the client and possibly elect not to continue working with them.

When it comes to creative-client working relationships, it is ultimately far more effective to approach a marketing relationship (digital or otherwise) as a partnership. Creative work is a lot harder and more time consuming than many people give it credit for. The same goes for other professions. Put a high value on showing respect for each other’s contributions, especially when it comes to creativity and diversity of ideas. Remain professional in communications and refrain from dismissing ideas just because you disagree with them.

It is the challenge of all businesses to learn how to communicate across industries and professional boundaries, but maintaining a high level of respect for each others’ professionalism and contributions can go a long way toward building long-term, productive creative partnerships.

Lesson #6: Sometimes you just need to move on.

Social media consultants like to remind our clients that becoming successful online can take a long time. And it’s true. You really can’t expect overnight success (unless it’s the kind that takes several years to develop).

In reality, serious social media success generally requires lots of hours, a significant ads budget, or both. You need to think about the right way to present your content, develop and engage an audience, create a profound message, and make an impression.

All of these things take time and effort, and no one should underestimate the challenge at hand.

However, all of these assumed challenges are also built on the assumption that you have chosen the right platform for your needs. And without making the right choice, your foundation for success will be a lot weaker.

Sometimes people choose the wrong platform to start with. Other times, they are attempting to succeed in too many places at once. On other occasions, a platform has simply outgrown its utility.

But whatever it is, sometimes the time comes to move on from a social network– to decide to leave your accounts inactive and devote your time elsewhere.

This is a largely unsung truth of the social media world: not every platform works for every business at any stage of their growth.

Our clients and prospects often seem sheepish when talking about the social networks where they have begun an effort and then left. But rather than scolding them for leaving it fallow, we see those moments as an opportunity to discuss the actual utility of the platform: how long did you work with it? Did it show any tangible results? How was your follower growth and engagement?

If our questions demonstrate that the platform ultimately wasn’t going to be a good fit, we encourage them to prune it and move on.

There aren’t enough hours in the day or money in small business budgets to make it worth investing in a platform that doesn’t return. If it’s time to break up with one of your social networks because you’ve poured in effort and it just won’t work, don’t hesitate: just do it. Keep the account for credibility if you must, but don’t think twice about regaining the time and investing it elsewhere. In the end, your marketing will thank you.

Showing Orlando Some Local Love

When I moved to Orlando more than four years ago, I never expected for it to become my home. Orlando took me by surprise — and now I am excited and happy to share all about why I’ve fallen for this quirky little city.

After more than 100 days of blogging exclusively on this website, I’ve decided to start changing up the platform for variety. My #Blog365 post for Saturday May 23, 2015 can be found on my LinkedIn profile. Find out Why Orlando Deserves Some Local Love