Frank and I are entering our second year as participants in WVuncovered, a program of WVU that mixes print media with new media experiences. Most participants in the “business” end of the program are weekly community newspapers from around the state, and us – a free newsprint monthly magazine. We were recruited when I friended Mary Kay, one of the project’s leaders, on twitter.
Each month, Frank and I head to WVU’s Morgantown campus for an intensive day of learning new media. Audio, video, web, slide shows, social media. We’re learning how to implement these options to support and enhance what we offer in print.
Most marketing advice suggests that businesses have a social media strategy. Some kind of plan. When you’re learning as you go though, I don’t see how you can have any semblance of a plan.In fact, Now that we are entering our second year of “new media school,” I thought perhaps I’d better figure out what exactly I have going on in the field – especially social media.
Now, I have had a web site since 1997. I’ve had blogs since before they were really considered marketing. I skipped the myspace phase, but I have become a facebook addict, and have a twitter account – but I really didn’t take too well to twitter. Even so, that account is one of the most active outlets we have. How? Why? Well, I assure you, there was no strategy. It’s just how it all ended up working. But to explain how everything ends up at 2LaneTweet, I first have to tell you about some of our other online outlets.
HERE’s HOW OUR SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS:
Two-Lane Livin’ has two main web sites: twolanelivin.com, and twolanebloggin.com. TwoLaneLivin.com includes features from the print edition, headlines from our columnists’ blogs, and headlines from twolanebloggin.com.Two-Lane Bloggin’ includes posts from behind the scenes, garden updates, news, etc.
Our Page includes delivery notifications so readers know when the print edition is available in their area, and updates from twolanelivin.com, twolanebloggin.com and updates from all of our columnists’ blogs. Anything posted on our Facebook Page is also sent to 2LaneTweet.
Only the posts to my personal Facebook Profile aren’t forwarded to something else. Why? Because for some reason, Facebook won’t allow it.
Now, if you want to call that strategy, fine. If that’s the way it should be done? Even better. I would say that it falls into the “chaotic overkill” category myself. I can’t even really keep track of it all, and I tire of trying to learn how it should be done because the teaching on the subject keeps changing with the trends and technology.
The best option I think, (to make sure you’ve got all of Two-Lane Livin’ outputs covered) is to either like our facebook page, OR follow us on twitter. These two options will lead you to anything else (blogs, online edition, etc.) you might want to check out.
Two-Lane Livin’ and two main social media options to follow. That makes sense to me.
It was supposed to be a networking tool. You know, a way to legitimately build connections for our business, Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine. Having managed proudly to never have built a MySpace page, I was a little cynical when I signed up for facebook — feeling that it was something else I had to do.
But I did it. I made a facebook profile, first listing my “data” — the movies I like, the music I like, the books I like… It took longer to find a photo of myself I liked enough to use as my profile picture.
And, since I was sorting through photos, and didn’t have any facebook friends yet, I also uploaded some of my favorite photographs to share.
Then came the search for friends. The way facebook’s search is set, it’s easiest at first to find people you went to high school with, to college with. You know — people you haven’t seen in years, who live far away from you – who really know nothing of your life and your business…
But it’s like an online high school and college reunion. You find your first boyfriend. Then, your bestest friend from third grade. And while you’re catching up with all those people, facbook applications start kicking in.
People start sending you virtual flowers, butterflies, cars, fish. And oh look. You can play Scrabble together online. You can send good karma, virtual drinks, hearts, smilies, retro gifts from the 70′s. Of course, then there are the polls. What movie are you? What color is your heart? Take Dr. Phil’s personality test!
I have a facebook farm. I have 237 crops that I need to tend daily. I have 1,793 trees that need harvested – daily. I have five chiken coops and 254 animals that likely, as the application grows, I’m going to have to feed – daily. I have 124,209 virtual dollars to spend, and I already have at least TWO (if not 1,793) of everything that’s available for sale.
Of course, every day, you find more friends, and they find you, and that’s all wonderful. I have a friend I haven’t seen in person in two years. Now, we play Scrabble together every day.
I have also become a member of several Facebook Groups. My Hometown Neighborhood, My High School Band, all sorts of pro-WV groups. There’s even a group called, “You don’t know what a pepperoni roll is?” That group has 3,519 members – and I am proudly one of them. See, anyone on facebook can make their own group and invite folks to join. I have a facebook group for our magazine. Â In two months, we’ve had 110 members join. Most of them are people I know — but some? I have no clue.
Anyone on facebook can also make their own Page. See, a group is a group, but a page is something different. In groups, folks can become members. In pages, folks become fans. You can invite your friends to become members of your group, but your page you have to advertise. Each works differently, and so I also created a page for Two-Lane Livin.
I try to make all my applications work together. There’s a way to make my blog entries appear on my profile, my group, and my page. Same thing with photos, videos, posts, notes, status updates, tweets, — believe me, there’s a facebook application for everything.
I haven’t yet found an application that tells me how much time, exactly, I have spent on facebook since I joined.
You can’t call it time wasted, exactly, because it’s social networking. It’s today’s mantra of marketing. Of course, without the right friends, and the right structure and framework and applications and purpose it does little to nothing to enhance your marketing efforts (and if not professional, may even hurt).
Somehow I’ve got to reign it back in. Take this newly found bubble-gum for the brain and whack and chisel it back into a legitimate public relations and marketing tool. Just as soon as I’m done checking out the most recent photos of my facebook friend’s kids and play my turn in Scrabble. Oh, and then I have to go harvest my virtual plum trees. And look! One of my facebook friends is wanting to chat.
I swore it would never happen. Swore up and down that it would NOT be me.
I got sucked in by social media.
Thank goodness I didn’t take to Twitter like this.
I joined facebook.com this past week, finally bowing to the “social networking” demands of today. Until now, I was very proud to know I never had a myspace.com account, and wasn’t into the “find friends” online bit.
I have friends already. I know where they live, and I have their phone numbers. (Incidentally, almost none of them are on facebook or myspace.)
I’m not a social networker. In person, or online. I was never one to chat online, or participate in an online discussion group. In person, I’m not good with small talk, and in discussion groups? I always leave feeling as though I’ve said or revealed too much of what I really think…
I was however, surprised to find several of my high school classmates on facebook (as well as my band director, our newspaper delivery girl from 30 years ago), and have spent a couple of days catching up with old friends.
At one point, I had to get my yearbooks out to refresh my memory. After all, it’s been several years since the Class of ’85 walked those high school halls.
Finding friend on facebook is like researching a deed at the courthouse. One discovery leads you to another, which leads you to another, and another, and another. As someone who enjoys research, the search for old friends became almost addictive for a couple of hours.
I even hated to get up to pee.
But after two days, I feel a little overwhelmed by facebook. I now have an online “Green Patch” that needs tended, and found that I also am expected to help tend my friends’ Green Patches.
This, while my vegetable garden outside desperately needs weeding.
There are games and groups and quizzes, all of which interest me very little.
My search for friends is exhausted, with married names replacing the maiden names I know, and no “network” existing for my local, rural region.
What do I have in common with the urbanites in Charleston? How many years since I left the city limits of Parkersburg?
Do I really need bumper stickers on my facebook page? Do I need to keep up with the writing on all my friends’ walls?
I have enjoyed touching base with names and faces from the past, and hope to reunite with more of them.
But I’m done “finding friends.”
They’ll just have to find me.