However, I did see that it could be a viable channel to disseminate information. For about a year, I used Twitter like a bulletin board. I posted 5-10 tweets a week on the handle for Hay Group’s healthcare practice, @HayGroup_Health, and that was about it.
But then in March, something changed.
I was flying to Washington D.C. for a two-day healthcare symposium and was reading UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, a book about marketing in the age of social media. If I can boil the book down to a single point, it was that we should apply the age old “Golden Rule” to marketing: do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. And that’s when I realized, I was enabled to use social media, but I was not engaged and therefore, not a productive participant.
To help feel more attached, I changed the avatar to a picture of me. It had been a basket of apples, but who wants to talk to a basket of apples? I would think that conversation might be a little dull.
But that was just window dressing. In order to truly be engaged in the Twitter cocktail party, I needed to dive into the conversation. I needed to tweet, re-tweet and reply with determination and personality. Here’s what I learned:
- RTs create a bond. To apply the Golden Rule, it makes me feel validated when I see that someone else has re-tweeted one of my posts. And often, it does the same for others.
- Automation tools can support your engagement efforts, but they shouldn’t replace them. It’s critical that you engage and interact online.
- Twitter is a great newswire. I came across many news items important to the healthcare organizations Hay Group works with from monitoring relevant Twitter feeds.
- Social media is about building relationships – so, don’t be afraid to do so. Take the relationship to the “next level” by listening, engaging and establishing meaningful connections.
- Being engaged will get you noticed. My monthly average of new followers went up 400% when I decided to engage. But it’s not just about the quantity. I found I began to make real connections with key online influencers when I began to truly engage with individuals, rather than blast messages with no dialogue.
Years ago, companies paid five-to-six figures for marketing intelligence about how people felt about their brand. Now it’s free and accessible by anyone. If you are somewhat intimidated by social media because the 20-somethings in your building lobby keep using words that sound like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book, try not to be. It’s for everyone (especially us marketers). However, it’s important that you are real, engaged and as much as possible, accessible.
So, I am back in the cocktail party and have checked my curmudgeon self at the door. Oh, and by the way, I still haven’t found that bartender so send me a direct message if you can point me in the right direction…
Colin Owens is a Senior Marketing Coordinator at Hay Group. He is based in Atlanta, GA, USA.
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