Does social media seem frivolous and a waste of time?
Social media, social media, that’s all you ever talk about, Bridget. Yep! I don’t apologize for it either. Social media is the modern version — nay amplified — word of mouth. Don’t you want people to find out you just released an update to a product, built an amazing Genesis child theme, or posted on GitHub for the first time?
First off, let me say that I agree with you that all social platforms are simply tools. Most importantly, social media provides real tools to solve problems, collaborate on ideas and develop your knowledge base. Sometimes we forget to consider that the best ideas come from the cross-pollination among industries. And as you know, after all, Buzz Aldrin’s knowledge of SCUBA helped NASA realize they needed to train astronauts underwater after problems with the Gemini project.
On Being Connected
Our industry is one that heavily relies upon remote working. I remote work nearly four days every week; and yes, it’s amazing. But there is also long terms risks in remote working; isolation and the loss of importance of in-person interaction. For me, social is a way to stay connected with all my WordPressers all around the country. (Oh, and Slack is social too!..we’ll get into that in a little bit)
Connection is good for the soul. It’s good for our humanity. It’s even good for our humility. Connection helps us move forward. Connection gives us new perspectives on the problems we aim to solve.
Social platforms are the modern coffee houses. As Steven Johnson said,
“Chance favors the connected mind.”
Of course, you should go to in-person meetups and networking events but my experience is that those relationships often began on social media.
With social, the trick is knowing what platform channel to participate. You don’t have to be everywhere. Really. No, I’m serious. Likely, to be everywhere, you’ll need to find someone awesome like me! 😉
That said, it is prudent to go grab your username and then hold on to it. I personally missed out on my top two choices for Instagram being too late to this game. So if you want specific usernames, do that.
Here are some of my insights on the most popular social networks — with pros and cons.
Facebook is a photo publishing platform. It thrives on nostalgia. A developer or web agency would best use this platform by posting photos of the team in action and tagging the individuals.
We also like it as a storytelling vehicle for “client results.” We love sharing our “Give Stories” on Facebook.
Links are also a valuable type of asset to share as people can bookmark, share, and store for another time. Not everyone is a buyer today, but they are likely to be at some point in the future.
One of the advantages Facebook has right now is Facebook Live. Individuals, Groups, and Pages can now broadcast live. Not only is this advantageous at speaking events, but the video stays on your page. Important to note that while you are live, Facebook favors your post in its ranking algorithm.
WordCamp North East Ohio recently used Facebook Live to capture a bit of Chris Lema’s Keynote at WordCamp San Diego.
Hashtags on Facebook. They work (if you click you see posts with the hashtag) with public posts and posts on Facebook. However, the culture of Facebook seems to accept hashtags (with the Instagram cross-posting) but the behavior doesn’t back up acceptance as a filtering mechanism. People have told me that when they see a hashtag, they automatically presume it’s cross-posted and scroll past it. Yikes.
“Buzzsumo’s study of over 1 billion Facebook posts discovered that posts on Facebook that include a hashtag receive less engagement than those without hashtags, as illustrated in the below graph.” Ash Read on Buffer
Twitter is a news publishing platform. It thrives on live tweets from chats, conferences, and media events. Twitter is perfect for meeting new people, especially when you have things in common.
On Twitter, the hashtag is used for keywords, topics, live tweets for conferences and even sarcasm.
For WordPress developers, this is a great way to engage with people at a WordCamp or WooConf. Conference-related tweets are engaging by their nature. Take a few minutes to scan the tweets for that hashtag and reply to a few.
This tweet by Carl Alexander, for example, included follow-up information to his WordCamp San Diego Talk. It has 13 likes, 9 retweets, and 4 replies. That’s a lot better than trying to pass out handouts.
— Carl Alexander (@twigpress) April 24, 2016
You can even create a list of your team, clients, and fellow developers to easily keep track of your priority people. You should support your clients and friends. That’s what makes Twitter powerful — it encourages public conversation — which is perfect for encouraging community in WordPress.
I’ve recently been drawn to Instagram. I appreciate the beauty that people see in the world. It’s become part of my nightly routine. Instagram has none of the family drama that Facebook has. It also has no games and rarely has political posts (unless you’re following politicians or campaign workers).
Instagram is best used for original content (their TOS requires it) and can highlight your team’s culture, remote work adventures, or just the fact that your dog has a cute face. Instagram also thrives on Hashtags. 12-20 hashtags per post is best.
What doesn’t work on Instagram are memes and repurposed PDFs. You can’t expand the photo to read 12 point text.
So if you want people to find you on Instagram, make sure your account is public. They also allow you to switch accounts now. Some of my favorite Instagrammers are listed on this page.
People have varied opinions on the effectiveness of LinkedIn. With any platform, it depends upon your target demographic. Are you looking to develop a clientele that includes CFOs and Attorneys? This is the platform for you.
Ensure your photo is professional, posts link to your articles, and consider joining a relevant, engaged LinkedIn group. What doesn’t work is posting your article in every single group simultaneously and never giving back.
By no means should LinkedIn be considered a ghost town; people are there — maybe even your customers.
You have a WordPress site so why would you publish on Medium? It’s an interesting question. Slack’s blog is on Medium which is an interesting strategy.
Medium comes with its own audience. Experiment. Maybe there’s a post you really don’t want on your blog but you want “out there.” I did this recently with “Nonprofits” 2004 Called and Wants its Paypal Button Back.”
Have you tried cross-posting some of your content here? Have you seen anything that doesn’t work?
Google Plus isn’t dead……..yet. As long as it’s part of Google, I’ll be posting to it. I find this is a great way to help with my search placement.
A good addition is the collections feature. WordCamp Atlanta is doing a fantastic job setting up their collections.
Hangouts on Air by Google:
Google’s Hangouts on Air are not new. Many WordPress shows (WPwatercooler, WP Round Table, The WP Crowd) use this platform in order to have topic-focused discussions. Some of them also repurpose the audio for an audio podcast available on iTunes or Stitcher.
The downside to Hangouts on Air is that it can be difficult to onboard people as guests if they don’t understand how Google can be tricky.
And while we’re talking about live video, Blab.im is no small contender. Though, honestly, they’ve been very buggy lately. Jason Tucker and I use it every week for our show WPblab.
Some advantages of Blab include easy login with Twitter, scheduling of shows, and the ability to download both the audio and video files (to upload elsewhere like YouTube and Soundcloud). Another advantage of Blab is the open seat function. Blab allows you to have more than one host but allows 1-4 people on the video at a time through the open seat function. There is also an active chat.
As with all of these networks, Blab has its own audience. One of the bigger shows using Blab is This Week in Organic.
What doesn’t work on Blab is screensharing or tutorials. Unfortunately, even if you can hack many-cam or whatever, it’s a tiny square. It’s just not the platform for screensharing.
WordPress developers can use this channel to host an interview, post the video on YouTube, and then creating a blog post around the interview. Video is great addition to any content marketing strategy.
I tried Snapchat. Twice. Personally, I don’t get it. However, based on Tweets, I see that many of our WordPress friends use it and have fun.
I do not see a strategic advantage over Instagram. Also, if you have to promote your Snapchat profile on every single other network, what’s the point? Just use the network you’re on. K.I.S.S. You know? But I am over 40.
To balance out my negativity, I’m including a link by Jason Resnick who is a super Snapchat fan.
Now, Slack is a great tool for teams, especially who have a full or partial remote workforce.
WordPress uses Slack for a specific purpose.
“Slack communication is used for contributing to the WordPress project, be it code, design, documentation, etc.”
Slack can be used for a group of friends, people working on a WordCamp committee, or for teams at your work. We use Slack and it helps keep us organized. But also, it’s a good tool to congratulate people, have fun with giphy, and keep everyone on the same page.
Here’s their post on getting the most out of Slack.
You have personas, run with your platform.
As long as you understand the purpose of each platform and have situational awareness of the culture, you can maximize your time and efforts. As a freelancer or WordPress development company, you know your audience (persona) and their personality.
Go where your audience is for new business, go to where your peers are for support.