Social media is not hard to understand.
Of course, if you read the Wikipedia definition, it makes it seem hard to understand. “Social media is media for social interaction as a super-set beyond social communication. Enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques, social media has substantially changed the way organizations, communities, and individuals communicate.” They could have stopped at “Social media is media for social interaction.”
That’s it. Social media = media for social interaction. It’s not that complicated.
“Winning” in social media is also not hard to understand.
Winning at social media simply means you’re engaging in a lot of meaningful social interaction. People are commenting on and sharing your blog posts. They are liking your status updates, adding you to their circles, replying and retweeting your tweets, or even pinning your images. In the business world, winning is extended to mean that some transaction event happens as a result of all that interaction, but none of that is possible without the interaction.
The key to winning in social media is creating great content.
The people who are winning in social media are creating great content. It’s that simple. They write interesting status updates, they post compelling photos, they add value to other people’s content through comments, they share relevant content and add thought provoking commentary to it, and they write quality articles about topics their friends and followers want to read. They interact. They initiate conversation and they reciprocate.
If you’re not winning in social media, it’s because you’re actions don’t spark conversations. The media you’re creating is not driving interaction. If you’re not winning in social media, it’s because your media isn’t social.
Pinning isn’t winning.
Let’s apply this thinking to Pinterest. There are lots of conversations around “strategies” to create business success on Pinterest. Just google “Pinterest For Business” and you’ll find more results than you could possibly imagine. 128,000 at last count. They include advice and what to pin and how to pin. Whatever. What’s the most important thing you can do to be successful on Pinterest? Create pinnable content. Pinning isn’t winning. Creating pinnable content is.
I had lunch on Monday with Kelley Koehler, Morgan Brown and Erika Lehmann. Erika is the VP of PR at Design Public. Pinterest came up in our conversation and Erika shared that Pinterest was the largest source of inbound traffic to their site, behind traffic from Google. “The biggest thing we did to help our success on Pinterest,” Erika stated, “was to execute on an intelligent implementation of the Pin It button. We made sure descriptions of our products were properly inserted into the pins without having to rely on our customers to do that themselves.”
And the key to their Pinterest success? Other people pinning Design Public’s great content. Their success on Pinterest is only loosely tied to how well they have pinned themselves. Rather, their Pinterest success is a result of having pinnable content and making it easy for those who visit their site to create their own pin. Their products are visually appealing and they automatically insert their product descriptions anytime someone clicks on the “Pin It” button that appears on each individual product page. They have made their media social in a way that appeals to the Pinterest community. That just makes complete sense to me.
So, pin away. But if the content your pinning isn’t worthy of being pinned, you really have no chance of “winning” at Pinterest. The same is true about the content you post on every other social media site. Create posts, curate, tweet, and create videos until your hard drives are full. None of it matters if you don’t know how to create that content in a way that generates interaction, in a way that makes others want to talk about it themselves.
Great content creates conversation.
If you’re not winning at social media, it’s because your media isn’t social. “Markets are nothing more than conversations, Doc Searles wrote. “For thousands of years, we knew exactly what markets were: conversations between people who sought out others who shared the same interests. Buyers had as much to say as sellers. They spoke directly to each other without the filter of media, the artifice of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading of public relations.”
Your content is your voice in the conversation, and great content generates great conversation. That’s winning in social media. It’s that simple.