Storytelling with Social Media

1 10 2012

I had in mind a post about social media and how everyone uses it for different purposes.  A fellow WordPress blogger provided the following inspiration:

Would You Behave Like A Prick If You Knew That There’d Be A Book Written About You?.

No matter who you are, or how you use social media, it really comes down to the fact that we’re all just trying to tell our story.

Personally, I use social media for a few reasons.  I use LinkedIn to develop professional connections (my career story).  I use WordPress for my blog and web site – to promote my business (my business story).  I use Facebook for entertainment, finding and staying connected with family and friends (my personal story), and – just today – I created a page for my business.

Personal users seem to share either a little (visiting occasionally to lurk and see what everyone else is doing) or a lot (some definitely enter the TMI realm) – games, memes, recipes, events, travel, shenanigans with family and friends, opinions, likes, loves, hates…LIFE.

Business uses are essentially about marketing.  Finding customers, communicating with them, and selling to them.  The challenge for business is the separation of the business identity from the personal profiles of its admins (particularly on Facebook).  Effective social media policies are few and far between – putting many businesses (particularly small business) at serious risk of damaging their reputation.

My current (9 to 5) role in local government has highlighted yet another use – public relations.  The posts we write (predominantly for Facebook but occasionally for Twitter) are about communicating Council (good) news to ratepayers – an additional platform for media releases that reaches a slightly different audience to the usual channels.  Social media has also improved our responsiveness to ratepayer issues.  We regularly answer questions, respond to criticisms, and quash rumours.  During natural disasters (floods and cyclones are a regular occurrence in our part of the world) social media has proven to be an essential communication tool.  It’s instant, it’s accessible through the mobile network, and we can get accurate and timely information to the community when they most need it.

If you use social media – no matter how you use it – it pays to remember that you’re telling your story, and (if you’re lucky) like any good book, it will be a story that people will read for some time into the future.  By all means share, but share with care.

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