Sharing is the new normal

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Above: Conner Galway leads a discussion on social media opportunities at the Kapok Hotel. Photo by Mark Lyndersay.

Originally published in the Trinidad Guardian on April 19, 2016.

On April 06, Pepper Advertising hosted the second of two social media bootcamp interventions with Junction Digital’s Conner Galway.

This was a for pay exercise, but Pepper’s Dennis Ramdeen extended invitations to a range of players in the local market, including this reporter.

Why did he do this?

We believe that sharing is the new normal,“ Ramdeen explained in an online interview after the event.

”That you don’t have to hoard information to gain an advantage. In fact, when you share with even your competitors you gain partnerships, shared opportunities and might also benefit from being seen as thought leaders. It’s also a test for possible opportunity as ’training as revenue stream’ for the company.“

The social media training wasn’t general and focused on the tourism and travel industries.

”Our tourism operators are struggling,“ Ramdeen said.

”No research, just based on anecdotal feedback from a few operators and news stories and Facebook. This workshop gives them access to a specialist within deep experience in the category at an accessible price.“

I did manage to slight that invite by arriving halfway through the exercise, though the second two hours yielded several valuable tips (see sidebar), that people working in social media professionally at all levels will find useful to review.

In the audience were representatives of at least one car rental company, bed and breakfast operators, travel agencies, and Caribbean Airlines.

Attending as a guest was photographer Maria Nunes.

”I primarily post to my profile page but realise that [business pages] operate very differently and that I should take the time to understand how to optimize my business page.“

”I’d never considered buying ads on Facebook, but the session did open my mind to considering a few small well thought out spends to see what kind of response I might get.“

Representatives of the local tourism industry listen attentively at the recent social media bootcamp hosted by Pepper Advertising at the Kapok Hotel. Photo by Mark Lyndersay. Click to enlarge.

”[Instagram is] one that I’ve hardly used but have been wanting to understand better. Describing an Instagram page as something that he [Galway] thought should feel like a magazine with content that is somehow connected/related helped me to get a better feel for how to use this platform effectively.“

Also attending as a guest was Caroline Taylor who works as a writer and editor at MEP, publishers of Caribbean Beat, CAL’s inflight magazine.

Taylor handles the digital presence and social media for Beat and Discover T&T, as well as social media for some non-profits and small businesses.

”For those not trained in or making a living from social media or marketing, workshops like this help clarify, demystify, and even reframe things that you may have only read about or experimented with,“ Taylor said.

”In addition to the specific recommendations for those in the travel and tourism industry in particular, two reminders were especially resonant for me: ’don’t let perfection be the enemy’ (this is an ongoing challenge for me); and ’do less better’— which I translated as working smarter, and essentially uncomplicating and decluttering my approach.“

”My one wish for the workshop was actually that it was a little longer so we could pause for a cause a little more at certain points for discussion.“

Conner Galway’s hot tips for amplifying social media presence.

When posting to Facebook, video rules, followed by posts with an image. All text posts are useless.

Use great photography across all your social media channels if you want to do social media better.

On Instagram, you’re creating a magazine, it’s an opportunity for slow storytelling.

Influencers and thought leaders tend to be on Twitter but your market may not be there.

YouTube is the second most used search engine on the Internet, people search for how to do things there.

Ask this question first: ”People will follow your content because…?“

Then ask these questions…

  • Are you liking other people’s posts?
  • Are you checking your analytics?
  • Are you reaching out to other, complementary organisations offline to encourage collaboration?

Decide on the focus.

  • Is the social media channel appropriate to your industry?
  • Can you produce the content?
  • Can you commit the resources to producing it ?

How to produce content for social media channels.

  • Batch professional content, do all the work upfront, stage it then hold it for scheduled release.
  • Encourage a network of ambassadors and user generated content
  • Equip and train staff to produce content. They are usually on the spot to capture the right moment.