Last night I read a story about a 4 year old who received a hand - and not just a helping hand. She received a prosthetic hand, which had been made by high school students and a 3-D printer. The nutshell of the story is that this little girl had outgrown her first prosthetic hand, and the insurance wouldn't cover a new one. However, thanks to a high school's robotic team, she received a new hand for Christmas, and has the potential to have new ones made as she grows.
This made me think of all the hopeful stories that come through our newsfeeds. Sometimes they are small, though important, triumphs, such as told by Ronald McDonald House, or a pet rescue, and sometimes they are as over-the-top as Westjet's Christmas surprise. And sometimes they are buried in the more dire stories, family stories, or business news. All of which rushes at us in the speed of thought.
Yet they are stories of hope are there all the same.
Something to remember in the dark of winter - that those little stories remind us that there are bright moments of hope in the world.
Bright And Healthy Holidays To All!!!!!
As I have been organizing the "Community" exhibit for "Creative Pulse" it occurred to me that some might wonder, "Okay, why are you doing a virtual gallery on a social media site?"
While I am have no artistic ability I have always loved the sheer variety of artistic talent in Springfield, and several months ago I had the pleasure of seeing Jan Sorenson's Barnes and Noble exhibit. I was particularly taken with her "Doe A Deer." Of course, I am something of a soft touch when it comes to deer (and of course....foxes).
At the time I posted a comment in praise of the exhibit on Jan's Facebook page, but I was already pondering an idea.
One of the organizations I have been involved with for a long time is Nature In Legend and Story (NILAS), which is a nature education organization. Over the last year we have been re-developing our website, and trying to expand what we offer. Basically, trying to touch on the many ways nature's "story" is told. And after a little brainstorming with Jan - we created the virtual gallery for NILAS.
And as I worked on it I began to realize I could offer something similar for Springfield, and the surrounding communities. I would not only offer a page, but the social media exposure. I know that many groups have their own Facebook pages, but many of our creative individuals are not yet familiar, or have the time, to use the full spectrum. That I could do for the contributors.
The vision began to form of a virtual gallery which would not only be for the visual arts, but the written as well. Hopefully a place where the many groups could share and communicate.
It would be grand if it could help stimulate discussions in the community, and bringing in individuals from the surrounding communities.
So "Creative Pulse" was born. Someday it may develop into a site of its own, but for now, hopefully, it will bring broader exposure to the artists, writers, poets, and photographers in the area.
When you are thinking about doing social media what should you have ready?
1. Look around your business, and think about questions your customers have asked. Are there reoccurring ones? Are there special products that normally need a little more explaining. What is your history with the business? And general trends that you are aware of in your profession?
2. Then think of your seasons. What is your down time? What is your busy season? What produces these highs and lows?
3. What pictures, photos, or graphics do you associate with your business? Always keep in mind that images are a powerful tool on social media sites.
4. What organizations, hobbies, or charities are you involved in? What industry magazines do you subscribe to?
5. And never forget to keep track of special events that might be coming up, or are reoccurring.
All of these provide the "meat" for your ongoing social media campaign. It doesn't matter whether you, a staff member, or a consultant is handling the day to day - all of this will be needed. The knowledge of the highs and lows, and the special events, will help to create a calendar for your campaign.
Just keep in mind, it really is no different than the thought processes that every business owner uses in the life of their business. You know it better than you know your home, and you can discuss it at length. And all of that is what it takes to make a good social media campaign.
I am starting to think that one of the scariest thing for many business owners is that social media demands ongoing activity. The fact that business is coming into an era of "digital word of mouth" is intimidating.
Recently I was speaking with a prospective customer, and was working with a new approach. I had decided to develop this approach because I thought the term "social media" was what was terrifying people. So I set off to explain that instead of worrying about the technical end of social media that they should first think of it as doing what they always did - interacting with their customers. To look at it as an extension of the local word of mouth.
As we were discussing traditional advertising, and what made this different, I pointed out that standard advertising was one way. You develop your flyers, your newspaper ads, T. V. spots, and radio strategies, and all of these are sent out into the great world. And basically, unless someone mentions any of the business's advertisements, you will never really know what brought the customer in. With social media you have a better chance of interacting with your customers, and giving them a chance to know you. They know they can contact you quickly from any number of mobile tools, and express themselves in "real time."
And as I was listening to my potential client I realized that it may not be a fear of the term "social media," but stage fright. That the need to come up with interesting material on a weekly basis caused him to freeze. It didn't matter that I can help with finding content - it was that owner input would be required.
Nor was it just a terror of needing original content it was that there had to be a consistent strategy.
This also got me thinking of some of my other clients.
When I am setting up for a new client I will talk to them about the aspects of their business that could be used for blogging, or helpful hints. And I will also ask about organizations, hobbies, and charities they are involved in. The later gives me filler material to work with when I don't have original content. The first response I often get is, "Oh, I'll leave that to you!"
I always do a follow up email after the initial fright goes away. In the email I will ask the same questions, and usually get better input.
Really it is a case of realizing that while social media is more interactive that basic marketing still applies. The business owner knows their products, and when they create the standard advertising they know they will need images and focused content. With social media you need all of that, but you also need to have an idea what you want to do week to week. You need to know consistently, "what is the meat of the story?"
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.