Social Media: Is It Worth Your Audience’s Time?

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Social Media: Is It Worth Your Audience’s Time?

I believe Facebook at its best is a narrative medium. I read stories about people’s lives, about their children, grandchildren, health, aging parents. In following various media, I look forward to the next installment in the unfolding developments in entrepreneurial and technological changes in our culture.

The idea of social media as narrative came from PJ Loughran, CEO, The Distillery, a marketing agency focusing on movies and entertainment, using social media as its primary source of fuel. PJ spoke Wednesday as part of a Social Media Week panel Christina and I attended, called “What’s the Revenue Impact of Social Media,” sponsored by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce at Bull & Bear.

All four panelists had insightful comments on using social media to create business value, and we liked the food and atmosphere at Bull & Bear as well (we’re pictured with owner Luke Stoioff).

As journalism school alumni, Christina and I found PJ’s comments about narrative resonating with our old lessons.  And because content marketing continues to grow in use and importance, we are always searching for new ways to help businesses tell engaging stories. “We’re writing a lot more than we were,” he said, constantly thinking about how to keep people engaged in a narrative over time with a series of posts.

“You know, that’s how novels were initially published, serialized in magazines. People couldn’t wait for the next installment,” Christina said to him after the panel. “He brightened right up,” she told me later, listing Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle as examples.

How do you tell a story through social media while keeping people engaged?

The answers are not easy, but they go to the heart of the panel’s primary question, “What’s the Revenue Impact of Social Media?” It lies in the level of audience engagement with the brand, person, organization, idea. It’s how much people participate meaningfully that makes a difference, not how many people are connected.

And for those who are engaged in the narrative, it’s critically important that the message is on target.

Does the narrative connect with who you or your business is? It may seem basic, but the number-one mistake marketers make in social media is delivering a message that doesn’t align with the brand identity or business objectives. This kind of mistake is often the result of a company not thinking through its social media strategy, noted panelist J. Christine Feeley, CEO, Amptopia.com.

So keep an eye on the nuances of the message, and tailor them to the format of each social media channel, advised Zach West, social media manager at Walgreens.

“Create value,” Loughran said. “There’s plenty of noise in the space. Do something good. Make it worth people’s time.”