If you’re a social media nerd like me, then you understand just how awesome it is to have an entire day dedicated to celebrating the power of social networking. Thanks to Mashable, an online publication about digital innovation, the annual “Social Media Day” is celebrated worldwide each year on June 30th. This celebratory day first took place in 2010 and has been declared an official holiday by 17 cities worldwide and three U.S. states. Social media enthusiasts celebrated this momentous day by engaging in the conversation via the twitter hashtag #smday or through attending a scheduled meetup event at a local spot. I joined up with other Boston social media geeks at the Mashable Social Media Day event that took place at Boston University.
The event was full of laughter, learning, and networking. My favorite feature of the event was the large screen projection of the live TweetDeck feeds for #SMdayBOS and @comugrad, which was the Twitter handle for the BU facility where the event took place. The screen projection behind the actual panelists showed the secondary discussion of the event taking place in the social world. It was really cool to see the live tweets with opinions, shout outs, and audience questions during the panel discussions.
The two panel discussions that took place were about social media for the sports industry and social media use for brands. Some seasoned social professionals gave insight into what it’s actually like being behind the profile picture for a brand or a sports team.
Here are a few things I learned during the event:
1. Social content needs to reflect the unique personality of the person, sports team, or brand.
When posting on social networks, as either a brand or an individual, it’s important that your personality online matches up with your personality in real life. For example, if your sports team’s culture is based on history, legends, and sportsmanship, such as with the case of the Boston Celtics, then your social media content should reflect that. Peter Stringer (@PeterStringer), Senior Director of Interactive Media for the Celtics continued that he would “rather tweet as Doc Rivers or the Celtics’ legends, than just be a funny twitter account with tons of followers.” The followers aren’t worth it if the content isn’t true to who you are.
2. Alas, there is a way to quantify benefits and success of social media use for brands.
According to the social media experts, using free tools and internal case studies are cheap, effective ways for brands to measure and quantify their social media use. Measuring engagement and activity on social media accounts is the best way to show the benefit. Eric Stoller (@ericstoller), a blogger from Inside Higher Ed, spoke about measuring the “ROC” to find the ROI – “ROC” meaning the “return on community.”
3. You get out of social media what you put into it.
Tamsen McMahon, VP of Digital Strategy for Allen & Gerrtisen, said that “you get out of social media what you put into it.” She continued that brands and individuals need to be using social media for a reason or a purpose, and that they need to have something to say. Being on social media just because “everyone else is doing it” is not a good reason and will render your social efforts as ineffective.
4. Good social media use starts with listening.
The brands panelists all referred to the importance of beginning and successfully continuing social media efforts through listening to what’s happening already in the online conversation. Eric Stoller talked about the importance of “going into the Twitter party and listening to what’s going on there”, as well as building trust with social communities before doing anything promotional on the channels.
5. If you aren’t already a “thought leader,” then using social media won’t make you one.
Tamsen McMahon was brutally honest when she said, “If you’re not already a thought leader in real life, then a blog or using social media won’t make you one.” When talking about starting a blog, it’s important to go back to the question of “what are you going to say?” If you don’t have anything to say or if you don’t have enough skills about a topic, then learn about it in real life before trying to position you or your company as a “thought leader” or expert.
College students often wear many different hats on social media. Some use it just for fun or to stay in touch with old friends. Some use it to network and eventually find a job. And, some others may even be tweeting on behalf of a company at their internship. Whatever your purpose is for the social media world, it’s important to recognize the power that social media holds. At Social Media Day Boston, the closing speaker, Unity Stoakes (@unitystoakes), asked: “If your next tweet could change the world, then what 140 characters would you write?” Next time you tweet, pin, post a status, or share on LinkedIn, try thinking about this question and decide what your real purpose is for engaging on social networks.