Creatively harnessing social media – why we need to change which word we focus on …

I work on a regular basis with many organisations on their social media, whether or not that is to give them advice on their strategy, their channel selection or even the nuts and bolts creative.

When working with them, I often use the phrase ‘creatively harnessing your social media’.  (That was the inspiration behind the 501 Great Social Media Ideas for Schools book).

Unfortunately, many of these organisations focus on the word ‘creative’.  They want a YouTube clip that looks like Old Spice and records as many hits.  They want a Facebook presence like Nike.  Or an infographic that looks like it’s been designed by a $500-an-hour agency.

It’s then my job to shake them up a bit and get them focussed on a different word … harnessing.  Ultimately, that’s what we should be doing.  We have tools at our disposal which we are using to gain some benefit for our organisation by engaging with people in their own space.

There are four areas in which you can creatively harness social media that goes beyond the pretty, creative stuff.  This is the first post in a four-part series that looks at how we creatively harness social media.

Whats up first?  How do you creatively harness opportunities?

Creatively harnessing opportunities

When you’re preparing content for social media, are you focussed on the content itself, or the opportunity you’re addressing?  It may sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but in my experience, 80% of businesses are focussed on the wrong thing.  The content.

I get that.  It’s fun to shoot and edit video.  It’s novel to work with a designer on an infographic.  It’s exciting to set up a Facebook campaign.  It’s great fun to sit back from your Pinterest board and admire the pins you’ve collected, or your Insta list as it grows.

But when you focus on the content and lose sight of WHY you’re producing it, you’ll produce content that actually lessens your chances of getting an outcome.  You’re now just broadcasting – not connecting. And while you may like it, my experience is that you’ll like it far more than your audience will.

Let me illustrate: I’ve recently been working with a Government client on effectively using social media beyond broadcasting.  We were focussing on recruitment – and coming up with ways to streamline their HR process using social media.

They started that conversation with this statement: “we currently use social media for recruitment … we upload our job opportunities and vacancies”.

‘Okay’, I said.  ‘What else?’

“That’s it.  We tell people about the vacancies”.

Right. Just say we shift our focus to the opportunity rather than the content.  We’ll answer the question of ‘what do people need from us in the recruitment process?’ Or we’ll answer the question of ‘how can we improve recruitment through social media?’

That will produce ideas like putting together a 60-second clip from your leadership talking about what it’s like to work for your organisation.  Or you could do a clip featuring people who’ve just started with you, outlining their learning curve and the warm welcome they’ve received.  Why don’t we give people 90 seconds from the HR director in terms of what is required in terms of putting together a job application or even how to present yourself to a job interview?

Now that’s going to take time and resources to do, but with that particular Government client, we have saved them 10-15 minutes PER APPLICANT.

It’s not about finding extra time – it’s just redistributing it.

So step one in creatively harnessing social media is to harness the opportunities and not get lost in the content. Good content will capture the opportunity and delivery a response … but the focus is still on the opportunity.

So what are you focussed on?

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