I was recently invited by Digital Citizens co-founder James Fridley @fridley to be on a panel discussion entitled “Startups, small shops and bootstrappers: the real value in social media and digital PR for small business”. Digital Citizens is an inclusive, informal organisation dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of social, political, ethical and professional issues related to new technologies and the social web. So my first response was along the lines of “Are you sure you want me”? I don’t profess to be an SME, SMEG or any other acronym that gives off the illusion that I am some sort of expert with social media. But that’s precisely why I was asked.
I mean to be honest, I get really annoyed with social media, particularly Twitter where half the time I feel like I’m talking to myself and lack of response or retweets can really send me into a sulky tantrum and Facebook where I find I do get a lot of response time however constantly stalked by lonely men wanting to build up their online female friend list or potential “wannabe” friends only out to post and promote their business on my wall! Sometimes there’s no point to it but then I think about all of the connections and friends I have made and that regardless of the response/s I do have an impact on someone, somewhere, out there and that’s what’s important to me. It’s all about the connection. (Just as an aside, I must pay tribute to @iggypintado for flogging the whole “connection” thing as he taught me that).
So as nervous as I was to attend and speak (as the set resembled something out of Q&A albeit more relaxed), I was also honored that someone out there thought I was relevant and interesting enough to listen to and I was flattered to be sharing the panel with Jeremy Somers (@itsartdammit) designer and co-founder of We Are Handsome, Craig Macindoe (@chefmumu) head chef and owner of Mumu Grill and Lara Solomon (@LaRoo) creator of Mocks, and author of Brand New Day.
The plan was to take questions from the audience and online although the majority of the questions came from the audience who were an eager bunch wanting to learn more about social media success in your business and how you can attain it. One of the questions we all fielded was around “measurement of social media” i.e. how do we measure the fact that a sale or lead can be directly attributed to a tweet, how do you know how much time and effort to invest in order to get a return?
I could hear the sharp intake of breath when my answer to this was not as expected. No, I didn’t hook up my iPhone to a pocket projector and beam colourful charts and graphs plotting time spent being “social” (x axis) against dollars flowing into the business (y axis). My answer was simple, I don’t measure. While many strive for the magic social media combination and formula for me it is just about being me. I am the representative of my brand and fortunately I like to chat, with anyone, about anything. I can sense the puzzled look on your face!
For me anyway it is about building and maintaining connections which in turn become friends. Over time these maintained connections will be beneficial (mutually hopefully). I am sure it is something to do with six degrees of separation but from my connections I can summon all matter of things: tech help on my website, an invite to an event, opening a door to a new client and so on.
And you just can’t put a price on that!
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