Chip Smith of SOAR Communications asked me to attend the Social Media panel discussion during the Bicycle Leadership Conference in Seaside, California on April 17. SOAR, as a sponsor of this conference, kindly got me registered after I eagerly accepted his invitation.
At about 11 PM Thursday night, I noticed the Social Media discussion starts at 7 AM. It's a 50 mile bike ride from my home to Seaside. Bus connections across Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties aren't that great. I was excited about this panel discussion, but there's no freakin' way I'm getting up at 3 in the morning for this. So I had to bail and offer my lame excuses to Chip when I ran into him later on.
Fortunately, Chris Matthews (the guy in charge of marketing at Specialized Bicycles), posted the discussion notes online. Read the presentation slide show, it's good stuff. My takeaways and add ons:
Strategy and goals are important if you want some marketing value out of your social media participation. My goal: increased traffic and inbound links to Cyclelicious. Another goal is pure social networking: I honestly enjoy meeting with and interacting with the people who read Cyclelicious in a more "real time" manner. Sites like Twitter give that to me.
Be authentic, but provide something of value to me also. I do this by mixing up personal thoughts with links to bike news mixed with links to my own website. The people I follow closely do the same thing. "Value" to me often means humor.
If you post nothing but pure marketing, you'll fail.
Develop the relationships before the public relations disaster hits. If your customers are already your friends, they're a little more likely to forgive when that horrible unauthorized video goes viral.
The numbers of people participating online are stupendous. I won't claim to have nearly the breadth and depth of reporting or the influence of something like Velonews, but in sheer numbers I win. The number of people who visit my tiny little corner of the Internet in a month exceeds the monthly printed circulation of Velonews. For real.
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