Today, I was honored to deliver a social media presentation to a group of marketing executives in the Charlotte arts community. The event was hosted by The Levine Museum of the New South and its Vice President of Marketing & Guest Experience, Ashley Thurmond, and was entitled, “Creating Engaging, Content Rich Material For Websites And Other Communications Channels.” It was fun connecting with some of the people responsible for spreading the word about Charlotte's local arts scene.
In addition to seeing my friend Brandon Uttley (who introduced me to this great opportunity), I met some new friends that I had been following on Twitter, but had not yet met. Crystal Dempsey is the editor of Crossroads Charlotte, a fun, proactive community engagement site, and Tonya Jameson is a freelance journalist with a passion for sharing the stories of Charlotteans. All of the speakers had some interesting tips and stories to share, and I wanted to tell you some of what I learned from them.
No one is a social media expert. Crystal began her presentation by reassuring everyone that there's really no such thing as a social media expert. She described herself as a social media “advocate,” and emphasized that there are no right ways or wrong ways to employ social media tools. She called social media a “revolution evolution” that changes daily.
Regular and consistent use of social media, even if everything doesn't always work out the way you want it to, is the best way to learn what works best for your business.
Sometimes, you just have to ban people. In answer to a question from the audience, Tonya reminded us that there's nothing wrong with banning people from participating in your community if they are disrupting without contributing. For example, if someone repeatedly posts negative or hateful comments at your blog or FaceBook Page, don't feel badly about removing them, especially if they continually return for the sole purpose of stirring up trouble.
When a negative comment is posted on a one-time basis, Ashley shared the strategy of replying to the comment by acknowledging it and expressing gratitude, and then asking others to share their views on the topic. This lets the entire community know that all constructive viewpoints are welcome, not just the ones that are in agreement with yours. Ashley said that by inviting others to share their opinions in response to the negative critique, you're likely to get positive comments to balance out the conversation.
Don't wait for the media to come to you. Brandon, a past president of the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, told us about a client he once served who thought his new offering was so revolutionary that the media would come flocking to his door. Brandon pulled out all the stops, contacting local newspapers and some national publications as well.
When none of the journalists returned his calls or emails, he put social media to work, using Tweets, blog posts and word of mouth to spread the word about his client's new program. The client quickly got so much online traction that national media outlets came to him to do stories on his new offerings.
Aren't these great reminders of the power you hold in your hands (or your laptop!) to change the public's perception of your products and services? (The Media is You, yes!) Listening to Brandon, Ashley, Crystal, Tonya, and the other participants made my day! I always learn so much from the experiences of others.
If you're in the Charlotte area, visit these fantastic local arts organizations: Charlotte Children's Theatre, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Light Factory, Opera Carolina, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Discovery Place, Charlotte Museum of History and Levine Museum of the New South. You'll be glad you did!
Question: What do you think of the advice and experiences shared by Brandon, Ashley, Crystal, and Tonya?
PS: For those of you who don't know, that's my 6-year old son in the background. He clearly delights in trying to interfere with Indie Business TV segments. As you can see, I have trained myself to ignore him. No excuses! You can see more of his hilarity handiwork here.