A Community For Your Community

Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community
Sky view of Long Beach, NY - My Community

Does your local community have a web community?  My neighborhood just started one on facebook and I think it’s an awesome idea that really takes advantage of the benefits that social media provides.

The group description says it pretty well. “Our group aims to grow, build and strengthen relationships in our local community of Long Beach in order to bring about progressive change.” Those of us familiar with social media, know that it is all about building relationships.  In a local community, relationships are everything.

Bringing your neighborhood together creates a general compassion for eachother’s issues.  When you feel like you know someone personally, you feel more inclined to want to help them.  By creating a common place for discussion and relationship building amongst local community members, you give people a chance to tell their story, and to care about those around them.

The Long Beach “Community of Hope” facebook group aims to educate community members on issues discussed in meetings and events in order to bring about change.  Let’s be real, not everyone in your community is always involved in community issues.  By creating a place for these people to quickly and easily stay up to date on what’s going around them and express their opinion from their home computer, you allow them to contribute to the voice of the community, while staying connected with other members.

Social media, because of its ability to reach anyone in the world, is commonly applied to large, widespread campaigns. There are so many more opportunities through social media that can be applied to local, real world communities as well. What are some that you’ve seen or come up with?

7 Tips to Engage College Students

picture-11Are your messages reaching college students or are they being tossed away quicker than class notes after a final? Today’s college students and recent graduates, including those from online colleges [ad] have been using services like livejournal, myspace and facebook for a very long time and have developed a talent for sniffing out worth while messages from the noise that floods their mailboxes and social websites.  If done right however, word spreads through college campuses like a cold in a dorm building.  If you have something valuable to provide and you don’t want it to get lost in the noise,  here are some things to tips and things to keep in mind when attempting to engage college students…

  1. If you’re direct emailing off of a research based database…stop.  If students want to be emailed about something, they’ll sign up for it.  Even if you have something valuable, the minute they see a “pitch” in the subject line, they’ll delete it.
  2. Students join groups that their friends are already involved in.  Facebook groups are a great example of this.  In your feed, you are told when your friends join a group or become a fan of something.  They don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something that their friends are involved in.
  3. Organize your job board.  I can’t tell you how many students, including myself, are searching online for job opportunities.  The problem is, 99% of the jobs they find are for more experienced professionals.  If you want to drive college traffic to your blog or site with a job board, make a clear section that is specific to entry level jobs.
  4. Add a little wit to your twit. Whether you’re reaching through blogging, twitter, or other social networks, keep your content witty and fresh.  College students spend 5 days a week reading boring, bland material.  If you make your content fun to read, they’ll appreciate it.
  5. Brevity is king. Think about how willing you would be to read a long email or blog post after reading 10 chapters of Freud, or sitting through an hour long exam. Time is valuable in college, so take up as little of it as possible and you will be well received.
  6. Sponsor student reps. College campuses are extremely viral environments.  If you don’t know someone, you probably know someone that does.  Create that facebook group then sponsor a couple students to represent you on campus. As I said in #2, students are attracted to groups that their friends are already in, so hire their friends!  A familiar, friendly face can get students to listen to your message. The only companies I have seen on my campus have been red bull and skoal (says a lot about us huh?) so there is a lot of opportunity to embrace a practically untouched marketing method.
  7. Collaborate with clubs and organizations. This is a great way to reach out to college students that can be relatively inexpensive as they receive funding from their school.  Contact the marketing club or any college business organization and give them an opportunity to collaborate with you. Clubs are always hosting events that you can sponsor.  Or you can really collaborate.  Give them some merchandise, have them create a marketing campaign for your company and test it out in their own college campus.  They will appreciate having the opportunity to do something real with an actual company instead of dealing with hypothetical situations.  (I’m trying to find opportunities like this for the Geneseo Marketing Club)

There are so many ways to reach college students.  If you do it right, the viral power of a college campus can pay dividends.  Not only will it spread through campus, but to all those college students’ friends from back home with the help of facebook and other social media platforms.

If any companies are interested in collaborating with the Geneseo Marketing Association Club (GMAC) email me at dspinks5@gmail.com

How “Human” Should You Be?

serious-businessPeople might not like who you are or what you have to say. Sometimes customers can be over-sensitive about certain comments because lets face it, the traditional professional community isn’t exactly “laid back”.  In social media, it is expected that we show our “true” form, and be honest to who you are, or transparent as we like to call it…but what if an honest statement is offensive to a customer?

Last night I had a great twittersation (yea, I said it.) with Tara Hunt (@missrogue) after reading this story about James Andrews,  VP of Ketchum, making a negative comment about Memphis on twitter that offended some people at FedEx.

The Question:

With social media still not close to universally understood and accepted by businesses:

Is it the responsibility of the businesses / people who haven’t embraced being human in communications to “take the leap or get left in the dust” and become more “human”?

OR

Is it the responsibility of those businesses / people, who understand the importance of being human in social media, to censor some things that may not sit well with a business world that only gradually begins to understand social media and how it’s effecting the way we communicate?

The Arguments

You will inevitably offend people once in a while, no matter how careful you are.  Some people are just more sensitive to certain subjects.  What if you can avoid it?  You need to think about what you’re writing and how your customers may view it.  If you know you’re customers will get offended by what you’re about to say, unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t say it!  No point in losing a good customer for something so petty.

On the other hand, the business community used to be uptight and all about creating an image for the public to see.  Now the business community isn’t about creating an image but rather being true to your actual image, or personality.  Companies need to learn how to lighten up and be “human” in their conversations.  Don’t get offended by someone’s opinion if it isn’t clearly and directly meant to offend you.  People have different views and opinions and they need to learn how to accept that. “Embrace differences. Make mistakes. Get dirty. Have fun.” as @missrogue described how she advises her customers.

My Thoughts

There really is no right or wrong answer as different situations and people will warrant different approaches to this issue.  I love the advice to Embrace differences. Make mistakes. Get dirty. Have fun.” as that is what being human is all about. Choose your battles wisely however, as it is something that is new and unfamiliar to the traditional business world. The sooner they start to understand it, the better, as being “human” is quickly becoming more and more acceptable and they could be left behind in the dust.  They’re not left behind yet though. We have to realize that when communicating with them.

It’s important that those who have embraced transparency encourage those who haven’t.  It is not something that they can just leap into without understanding however, or they could end up getting too “dirty” or making too big a mistake.  Gradually, we can help them get there by helping them to understand it first.

I’m sure many of you will disagree with my recommendation.  I welcome your thoughts…