The Art and Science of Social Media

Published on Nov 19, 2015

Created for Pima County Public Library's "Service U," September 2018.

Speaker: Lisa Waite Bunker (Pima County Public Library).


the art & science of social media

increasing appreciation of what we do 

Know your "why"

"Why aren't you on social media?" Businesses and nonprofits are under a lot of pressure to create accounts on Facebook and other social media platforms, but ... what to do once they are there?

It doesn't need to be a 10-page rationale, but you will have more confidence and your writing will be more interesting if you know why you're there in the first place.

Here are some good reasons.
• I want to drive people to our website or Etsy/eBay sales page
• I want to build loyalty and trust with my customers
• I have lots of customers who are online and I want to provide customer service to them
• I frequently have news I need to get out quickly
• I have a lot of customers that want to see our daily special every day
• We have customers outside our immediate area; we want to stay on their radar and entice them back for another visit

Can you see how any one of those gives you lots of ideas for things to post? Knowing why you're there will keep your presence in focus, and aligned with your biz or nonprofit's strategic goals.
Photo by Stefan Cosma

Know your customers

Knowing your customers (or donors, or users, etc.) isn't just good for your bottom line, it is crucial to an effective, interesting and useful presence on social media.

If you can't picture who you are writing for, your copy will probably be blah and won't connect on a personal or emotional level with your readers.

If you know your customers well, the stories and post ideas practically come to you, and if you picture them as you're writing, your copy will be more appealing on a human level.

If you want to broadcast and never listen or have conversations, you are in the wrong place. *parade wave*
Photo by stopherjones

Know your customers

DO get to know who is putting down their cash for your products and services, or donating to your cause and campaigns.

Can you answer these questions?
What is their day like?
What interests them about your goods or services or your business in general?
How do you build genuine trust with your customers?
What are their aspirations and goals?
What bugs them?
In what contexts are they deciding to make purchases?

When you can think of your customers on this level you will have an abundance of org/biz-level information and news to post about on social media.

Even more importantly, what you post will be more customer-focused, and help further your business or organizational goals as well.

Know your customers

Aim for the green sweet spot.

Adapt messages for social

Your marketing message may be “We know plumbing better than anyone else in town,” but this does not make compelling posts for social media.

Your marketing messages need to be adapted for social media and not copy/pasted from your website or ad campaign.

On social media, you want to be the SHOW and not the commercial. It's not that you can't sound like an ad, but a hard sell is resisted and ignored in this context. You can do it, but you won't be happy with the results.

The same plumber could SHOW their expertise on social media in several ways:
• Share tips about what is and isn’t quality work
• Share before & after photos
• Find videos about how plumbing works
• Share a photo of staff consulting spec books and talk about the work that goes into the planning.

Yes, this is more work, and work you will probably need to make time for. Honestly? Social media is like a free puppy.
Photo by ReneS

Currently, use by black Americans is increasing fastest

Use by lower income Americans is increasing faster

Use by suburban and rural Americans declining slightly

Obvious why most start with Facebook

Source: Pew Research Center, Internet & Society

This is from 2016.

Untitled Slide

Source: Pew Research Center, Internet & Society

This is from 2017.

Hyperlocal, timely, real

Facebook is by far the largest platform, with the broadest adoption amongst Americans. However, there is a tradeoff: the learning curve is higher, it is by far the most time-consuming, and all business/organization posts are subject to heavy filtering by Facebook’s EDGE algorithm. On average, according to Adweek, a typical post is seen by only 7% of a page’s active “Likes.” This means that 2,000 people may have Liked your page, but the average reach on any given post will only be around 140 people. The people that actually engage with your post (click “like,” comment, or share it) will be even smaller. If you consistently beat 7%, you are doing well. These numbers will improve if you can afford to pay for ads and boost posts, in fact, their ad targeting is very precise and can be powerful. They know A LOT about us.

Facebook wants to be everything: the way you stay in touch with friends and family, your event calendar, your preferred source of news, your blog platform, business customer service messaging, instant messaging, your group and organizational forum, and your source of video learning and entertainment. For free.

Facebook also rewards those who post directly using its interface, and not with third-party scheduling managers such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Thankfully we can now save drafts and schedule posts right from Facebook. One exception is Instagram, for which there is no penalty for cross-posting to Facebook, since they are both owned by Facebook.

Visual branding

Unlike Flickr or Pinterest, Instagram does not allow for grouping similar images into boards or folders, but this is also its strength. People who are overwhelmed by Facebook love the simplicity of Instagram. There is far less noise, fewer ads, and more original content. Whereas on Facebook a friend might post all 60 photos of their trip to Scotland, the same friend will select far fewer for Instagram. Ads are still rare, and links in posts do not work so the rhythm is simple: photo/video,
Unlike Flickr or Pinterest, Instagram does not allow for collections of images organized by “boards” or albums, but this is also its strength. People who are overwhelmed by Facebook love the simplicity of Instagram. There is far less noise, fewer ads, and more original content. Whereas on Facebook a friend might post all 60 photos of their trip to Scotland, the same friend will save their favorites for Instagram. A smartphone or tablet is required for posting; you cannot use a Mac or PC.

Use Instagram to establish a reality-based visual identity for your business or nonprofit, and tell a deeper story of what you offer.

Demographics: Some of the audiences you may find here are women, teens and people under the age of 29, and African-American and Hispanic people. Instagram has recently seen an increase in growth of rural users.

Monitoring mood, opinion; reaching media

Twitter had a bad rap for banality, but its readers value the platform for the closeness it affords to the famous and infamous, its immediacy for news, and snappy wordplay. Because of Twitter I could read what influential librarians were reading the same day they did, and perhaps have a conversation with them about it.

Flexibility: For organizations, another part of the appeal is that it takes far less time to write for than Facebook, and is more tolerant of traditional marketing, such as events announcements and links to blog post links. It is also easier to schedule and cross-post to services like LinkedIn and Google+ using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or IFTTT.

Demographics: Twitter can be a way to reach working-age people with above-average incomes and education. It varies by community, but you may also find local teens on Twitter as well. Certain professions, such as writers, news professionals, and bloggers are likely to be active on Twitter.

Outlook: Today, much of the early uniqueness is gone and worries about privacy and bullying have cut into its readership. The 2016 presidential election brought Twitter back into the limelight as candidates sometimes used it to circumvent contact with traditional news media and speak directly to their followers.

Bottom line? If your local community is active on Twitter, its still-large readership, its role in breaking news, and its flexibility make it a good choice after Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you

Photo by rhett maxwell