Thursday, September 7, 2017

Note to Techno Dinos: Don't Worry, You Can't Break Social Media

To all you late adopters who somehow managed to get through decades in advertising and public relations without tackling social media, here's a comforting thought: you won't break it, so go ahead and try it.

Recently, I had a tutoring session with a colleague, a PR pro, who is not using social media in any way. Knowing that I manage various social media accounts for clients, she hired me to create pages on two platforms for one of her accounts, and post there on behalf of the client. After a few days, we decided the time was ripe for getting her acclimated to the world of Facebook and Twitter, where the client's pages now reside.

Word of caution to younger readers: Please remember that not all of us grew up as "digital natives" and even navigating a computer or making the most of certain software can be a challenge for some ... so don't judge.

However, if you categorize yourself as a techno dino who only uses what you need when you need it, have difficulty learning computer skills, or shudder at the thought of rising to the challenge of logging into multiple accounts and platforms and engaging there, relax. Remember, you can't break social media.

My friend and I sat down at her computer and began at the primordial ooze tank of understanding where to go online and then signing up for an account. Interestingly, we discovered there were phantom accounts in her name or under her email address already there (on both networks) from several years ago. We got around that, set up new accounts and got rolling.

First, I explained the difference between profiles and pages. Then on to the images; profile pictures ("yes, those always stay that small") and cover images ("they're like billboards") were explained and we uploaded a Facebook profile pic (nothing yet on Twitter).

Account names got done and the descriptions were easy, since she works in public relations and is a good communicator.

I could see that my colleague was overwhelmed by all the tabs, cards, text and images on the screen. All the while, I told her to take a deep breath and take it slow. Take the time to read what's on the screen -- the platform will tell you what it wants you to fill out if you just relax. I encouraged her to click, explore, check out other accounts ... because you can't break social media. Nothing will happen but you might learn something! Deep breaths! Go line by line ... it will get done and you'll have mastered another step. And don't forget, there's always the HELP tab.

We discussed posting in general, various types of content, and how to get other pages and people to engage. This led into a discussion about privacy settings. Lots of concern about who sees what. We set Facebook to very private, only friends can see posts. However, as we users know, it's all about getting more people to see, like and share those posts so if you have a professional page, don't be shy! But also don't be lax. Be sure to monitor the activity and address any negative activity happening on your feed. Remember, you're the boss (to a certain extent, at least).

Of course, it's also a good practice to retweet other users' posts when it's relevant, quoting the original tweet as well for additional commentary or context related to your field. On Facebook, helpful to share other people's content and tag, tag, tag (but not be annoying).

Ratings and reviews -- tricky -- depends on how open you want to be and perhaps what industry your business is in. The client's business is in a highly regulated field so for her client's page, we did not allow ratings and reviews (enabling ratings and reviews requires the admin to attention tp activity and the notifications on a daily basis and to address any review issues right away). I explained that we can open up the privacy settings later for her client and for herself when she is more comfortable. At least now, she can see how her client's posts look on Facebook and Twitter and check out interactions with the pages, which was the goal of the session.

We looked at other accounts, zoomed around to see other users' profiles, checked on some posts and got her comfortable. Her confidence rose a little bit with every click. She emailed me later to say that she felt encouraged enough to put up a cover image by herself on Facebook (bold step!). You see, you can't break social media ... but you can break into it at any age at any stage.