Making Social Media Work for You

This is the second issue of our new column on branding and marketing for SEA, Seafood Experience Australia.

Making Social Media Work for You

originally posted May 18 | by sea |

Recently, we’ve had a lot of questions about social media:

What can I do with it?

Do I have to get onboard or be left behind?

Which platforms are worth doing and what’s the difference?

Doesn’t it take a lot of time, have to be instant, and depend on knowing tricks?

The good news is that you can get value through using social media for your business without making it a full time job — and you probably already know how.

Here’s the secret to getting people to pay attention to you online — be authentic, be interesting, and be generous.

We’ll address the concept of online generosity in a future column.  Let’s look at what it means to be an authentic social media user and a little bit about the networks to know.


Authenticity is in the details

Social media gets talked about in the abstract, but it’s noting on it’s own. It’s a tool.

In the case of these communications tools, the medium is not the message. Social media is really old-fashioned interaction, just faster and louder than ever before.

Social media is a good brand-building tool because it’s another way for your peers and customers to get to know you. “Getting to know you” doesn’t have to mean the personal over-sharing that gives social media a bad rap. We’re not suggesting that your customers want know what your dog looks like in sunglasses or that you’re drinking a latte right now.  They do want a window into your business and your philosophy, so they can feel confident in choosing and supporting you.

Succeeding as a seafood producer takes building solid and direct relationships with customers and throughout the value chain, from distributors to chefs to home cooks.  A key part of customer loyalty is the feeling that a connection has been made.  People like people and people trust people — not companies. For a connection to be made, people need to feel that there’s another actual human on the other side of the transaction.  Big businesses are struggling to recreate the element of human interaction they’ve lost. If you’re running a small business and your customers like you, you already know how to do social media.  The leap is to echo that part of yourself and your business on the platforms that can help you connect.

The networks to know

There are dozens of social media platforms whose names you hear in passing and logos you see scattered across the web. These are the four you need to know and should consider using. While many people and organizations have accounts in all four places, each platform has its own feel and variations on audience.

There are services that allow you to make one comment and simultaneously post to all of your accounts across various platforms.  This saves time, but because it’s a one-size-fits-all blast, it ends up not really fitting anywhere. And when the whole point is to be authentic and connect, a canned message undermines your brand. To keep the time commitment in check, you’re much better off allocating a set amount of time each day, or every few days, to checking in and making a few well thought through posts.

Facebook  Facebook is now so ubiquitous that most people know generally what it’s all about. Even for business, Facebook revolves around people and relationships between people. Making connections on Facebook is like inviting someone over to your house. It’s a place to ask questions and have conversations. The personal and professional lines blur considerably on Facebook. In food, some chefs are here, but it’s most useful for causes and consumer brands.

LinkedIn From being just a place to post your resume several years ago, LinkedIn has grown into the Facebook of business. It’s time to take another look and see if you’re getting all the value you can from it. Like Facebook, you can post professional updates and links. You can join business groups and post as a business. LinkedIn is great for generating insider buzz and staying front-of-mind with your peers, tastemakers and potential customers. Because chefs move around so much, this is a great way to not lose the contacts you have when they switch jobs.

twitter  Twitter is for news sharing and micro-blogging, like pointing to a resource and giving your opinion of it in 140 characters or less. While you can’t say much in 140 characters, you can include a shortened url that directs the reader to an article online or an image with a short caption. Most interesting tweets are pointing to longer articles and are essentially flagging and curating news for like-minded people.

Does anyone really see all this tweeting? Twitter is like standing on a street corner of New York City passing out flyers. Most tweets won’t lead to anything much, but you get noticed and you just might make a fantastic connection you otherwise wouldn’t have.

There is a lot of food and sustainable food movement activity on twitter, so it’s easy to get into the stream of things pretty quickly. Because it doesn’t take much time to check in with, chefs are here and so are distributors to communicate with them. We’ve even seen distributors who use twitter like a live auction and fisherman who post about their catch to chefs while they’re coming back to shore. Most of the food movement and sustainability dialog is by NGOs and journalists. There’s a real need for farmers and fishermen to start participating here to get the producer’s viewpoint into that dialog.

Pinterest  Pinterest is the new darling in town. It’s an all-visual format like a shared online bulleting board. Using it for business is very new, but the number of users on Pinterest and how long they’re spending there in rising rapidly. It’s already shown itself to be really helpful in driving consumer traffic to your web site. To play in this game, however, you need high quality images.