Sunday, July 22, 2012

My top 5 lessons in social media from Social Capital Ottawa

If you happened to be at Algonquin College in Ottawa yesterday and noticed an inordinate amount of people tapping away on iPhones, tablets and other mobile devices, you might have spotted me in the crowd.

Yesterday was the 2nd annual Social Capital Ottawa conference - or #SoCapOtt as we trended on Twitter. This was an event where it wasn't bad manners to be typing away during a workshop or keynote address - you were just adding to the virtual conversation being held simultaneously. Wondering what you were missing in one of the other workshops? Just check the twitter feed for updates from people in that room.

I don't consider myself a newbie to social media. I've had this blog since 2005, been on Facebook for several years and Twitter a few less. But any knowledge and experience I have in social media paled in comparison to some of the people I met - like Andrea Tomkins, who's been writing her blog, a peek inside the fishbowl, since 1999 and has become Ottawa's most celebrated parent blogger - and who was also kind enough to find and return my indespensible phone which I'd set down to get some water and briefly forgot.

Since launching myself into full-time freelance writing and communications work, I've been networking like mad. So being at a conference aimed at connecting people and sharing wisdom on how to best use social media to connect even more, was fantastic. It didn't feel forced to just walk up to a stranger and start talking - everyone was doing it. And in addition to meeting some friendly and savvy folk, I happened to talk to someone who has hooked me up with precisely the resources I need for a contract I'm currently working on.

And in case you're wondering what are some of the tips I learned, here are the top 5 pieces of social media wisdom I took home yesterday.

#1. When using social media, don't think like a publicist - think like a publisher. The point is not to put everything out there, but to put out good, interesting content that people will respond to.

#2. Know what your goals and key messages are - especially if you are using social media for your business. Be strategic.

#3. Measure your impact. If you want to know if what you're doing is working, then use some of the tools out there - like Follower Wonk, Social Bro, and built-in tools in Facebook - to see how well people respond to you. If you get a lot of 'likes' but not much actual engagement (comments, RTs, etc.) then you might want to tweak what you're doing.

#4. Create an editorial calendar. Whether it's for a personal blog or for a business communications strategy, map out the next annual quarter. Chart the milestones (holidays and big events, product launches, etc) and the topics you plan to cover. Mapping everything out will relieve that common stumbling block of not knowing what to write about. (Wish I'd thought about that for my 365-year of blogging!)

#5. And finally - content is king. Even if you're writing from a basement cave 5 miles from nowhere, if you have good content, people will find you.

Have I missed anything? If you have any tips for making the most of social media, please add them as comments.


  1. Fabulous things to take away! Also, you did a 365 year of blogging! And each post 365 words? I am beyond impressed! :) I did a few 100 word posts - it is HARD to make your thoughts into an exact number of words :)
    Nice meeting you yesterday!

  2. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Be authentic! People can "hear" your real voice and they'll know when what you say and how you say it don't mesh, or when you're trying to be something you're not.

  3. Found this post via Twitter. Love, love, love the tips! I'm such a newb...I heard about #socapott too late to join this years party but next year I. am. so. there.
    Off to explore the rest of your blog. (You wrote a post a day for 365 days...*cyberhatsoff*)