A Year’s Worth of Knowledge in 801 Words
The old expression “Time flies when you’re having fun” has been the slogan at Lake Arrowhead over the last few months. About 15 months ago Leslie McLellan and myself set out on an adventure to try and understand and even capitalize on the social media industry. I was brought on as the Lake Arrowhead Marketing Intern a little over a year ago, after Leslie’s assistant moved on and the position was not replaced. The first thing Leslie asked me to do was research and develop some goals that we could achieve via social media.
An Internship for the Ages
Now, at the beginning of this adventure I can honestly say I had no idea what I was doing (I didn’t tell Leslie that). So we basically started by just setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts. We updated regularly but we didn’t notice any huge improvements or feedback from our posts. “Well,” I said to myself, “Maybe we need more social media sites?” So we created a Digg account, YouTube channel, FriendFeed profile, and started blogging. However, we still had problems tracking “tweets” and finding the time to update our accounts consistently. So we researched some exciting management tools for social media sites and we found fantastic sites called Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. These two sites allowed us to manage our sites and track tweets that dealt specifically with Lake Arrowhead. After we had created these profiles we made a tab on our main website, http://www.lakearrowhead.net/, called Social LA and linked out all of our social media outlets directly from the site. After we both began reading social media blogs more frequently and using the old method of trial and error we began to notice a lot more traffic through our social sites and website. We started to understand how to use #hashtags appropriately, and how to use trackbacks on our blog sites, as well as blogroll, and commenting on other posts and sharing ideas. After all, it’s called SOCIAL media for a reason.
Once we felt that we had gotten our feet wet with some of the social sites, (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) we integrated elements from the Chamber’s newsletter that would update our customers on events, news, and special offers being provided by Lake Arrowhead. We still continue to use this newsletter today, but are actually starting to develop a new and improved form of information distribution. We have also begun the process of setting up a mobile marketing campaign specifically for Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce. It is no surprise that cell phones are now the primary source of information gathering by people all around the world. People are surfing the web, developing applications, updating their social sites all directly from their cell phones. As marketers, it is also no surprise that we must utilize and take advantage of the tools that our customers are using. More and more people are moving away from print media and radio advertising and moving into social media. Knowing this has allowed me to find great success not only in my professional career but also my personal career.
Social Media Supports the Cause
Last year I started a non-profit called Compassion Grows and our primary goal is to implement clean water systems in Uganda, Africa. It was hard getting the word out because the company was on a really tight budget. So I decided to apply some of the social media strategies I had learned during my internship with Leslie at Lake Arrowhead. I set-up multiple social sites for Compassion Grows like Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/cgteam) Facebook, and our blog (http://www.compassiongrows.posterous.com). In less than three months I had donations coming in from around the United States and people personally emailing me on how they can help the cause. I’m sure this is just one of many stories social media has to offer but I do believe the majority of the population is moving to a digital preference and social media is the gate. If you are not using social media to promote and expand your non-profit then you are missing out on some excellent exposure that the internet provides. However, simply having a social media account doesn’t mean you are using social media. Social Media, at its core, is interacting with people on the internet. It’s a two way street. You have to spark conversations and comment on other people’s ideas and thoughts. The web is the primary source of information gathering for most people now and social media is just a small tool that businesses are using to connect with their customers. I strongly suggest diving into social media and see how it can benefit your organization. Whether it’s corporate, private or personal ~ social media has a use for you.