I’m not sure how I feel about social media. There are parts of it that I love. Who wouldn’t love nosing around in old boyfriend/ girlfriend/ school “friend”’s profiles when they haven’t figured out the privacy settings? Especially if I think I have aged better…. Not a nice part of me, but I am human and I suspect most of us do this. Then there are parts that I either don’t understand, don’t see the point in or that irritate me beyond belief. However, the minute I started to think about marketing it was all I could see – everywhere. According to most reports, social media is the future and not getting a handle on it means being left behind. Not a good start when setting up a business where I am the marketing department.
To embrace the whole new world of technology – or at least not turn into my parents – I leapt into this arena, looking slightly like a rabbit blinded by the headlights. For a start, there is so much of it out there. Which to chose? When setting up my website I decided that having links to my social media pages was a great idea. I went ahead and chose the ones that I had heard of; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I set up my pages, extremely proud of myself in importing images, adding text and inviting people to like my page. I then stared blankly at the feed, and realised that I was the one who had to put something in it. Me, my thoughts, my contributions, my opinions. And I realised that I was utterly terrified.
Of course I do have thoughts about topical issues, current affairs and the industry I work in. Since I gave up work several years ago to be a stay at home mum, I forever quote Bridget Jones’ comment to my husband – “when will you talk to me about my ‘opinions’ ” (from The Edge of Reason, somewhere I find myself on a daily basis). I’m very aware that when I spend most of my day talking to children that I might not be able to put my thoughts together as coherently as I used to. I’m often halfway through a sentence in a conversation with an adult when I am interrupted by “mummy, I can’t find my socks” or “what’s for tea on Saturday?”, a particular favourite of mine on a Monday. Getting my ideas together is a battle, probably not helped by age or that I have my best ideas whilst on the school run and don’t have a hand free to write things down.
To help me get into the swing of this I have done quite a bit of research. If you want to write well, it is important to read a lot – so surely the same theory should hold for social media? The more I have researched social media – surprisingly easy to do in short bursts, fantastic whilst waiting in the car for tiny people at activities – the more I find I’m very good at discovering what I don’t like. I don’t like inspirational quotes. The odd one here and there is fine, but I always forget them, which makes them redundant to me. I invited my brother to like my company Facebook page, and after he accepted he said “well, I hope you aren’t going to clutter up my feed with ridiculously awful quotes” – quite. If they work for you, brilliant, they’re just not for me. I’m trying to find my own words.
The other thing that I have discovered that I don’t like is being manipulated. I have read articles on giving away your best information, how you can create leads, what offers you should give and I’m sure there is a great deal of science behind it, and that a lot of it works. However, now that I am aware of it, I see it in so many emails that I receive, or twitter posts and I am instantly turned off. I feel that a technique is being used on me, and I am no longer interested. It reminds me of watching The X Factor when the distressing backstory comes on in the video of the sick relative or awful living conditions of the contestant. I feel manipulated into wanting to vote for them, regardless of their actual performance. Likewise in these emails, I now don’t see what they are offering, I see the technique that they are using and I don’t want to buy from them, whoever they may really be.
So, what have I discovered? I know that I want my content to be meaningful. For me to stand out in an ocean of social media I need to be saying something that is multilayered, can appeal to many people and that isn’t just repeating a lot of what other people have already said. I won’t be writing articles on “3 ways to get yourself back into work after having children” or “7 types of people you will meet at the school gate”. Lists such as these are very common ways to write articles at present, and I’m not going to add to them. I want people to decide to work with me or to connect with me because they want to. They have chosen to because they like the way that I work or how I represent myself. I don’t want to manipulate people into signing up to work with me, that doesn’t feel right and I can’t work like that. If I can find a way for social media to support me to do that on my terms, then fantastic. In the words of the highlight of La Cage Aux Folles “I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses”. Who am I and how do I tell the world about me? Stay tuned…..