Ten Things That I Learned Today About Social Media, Marketing, Engagement, Etc.

Day Day No. 33 of the 2015 Ten Ideas A Day Challenge.

This morning, I spent about five hours reading through Buffer's blog posts and Belief Agency regarding social media strategy, content marketing, guest blogging, curating, ROI, etc. It was fascinating. It was probably the opposite of the productivity they themselves suggested, but I've been wanting to dive deeper into the ins and outs of digital marketing, anyway, so five introductory hours this morning felt pretty productive to me. Here are ten things that I learned or, at least, ten things that were articulated clearly enough to give me a better understanding of what I may have already grasped in partiality:

  1. ROI means "Return On Investment." It'd be good to put the time and effort into understanding the tools at my disposal for maximizing ROI for social media so that I can both spend less time with my phone in my face and interact well with the people who support what I do. Seems like a lesson in stewardship, to me.
  2. Content Altruism, as defined by Rebecca Churb (amazing name), is adding value to the web without worrying about what you might gain. This strikes me as interesting because I either worry a lot or not at all. For instance, I'm confused about what it is that I'm actually doing with LTP vs this blog site - like an identity crisis. That worries me. The other end of the spectrum is that, throughout the course of my time as LTP, I have known next to nothing about poetry, and the irony is that a lot of poets ask me how to be one. I don't know. But I've never been that worried about it. 
  3. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has practically branded something called "uncopyright". His practice is that all of his content is free and available to anyone and everyone. He believes that "the creative community only benefits from derivations and inspirations." I'm interested in it, because I've given art away before based upon a biblical conviction that a gospel given freely to me is a gospel I can extend freely to others. I still believe in that freedom. I'm just not sure how that works itself out in a business world because it (potentially) sounds more like stripping your content of value. My friend Jared suggested tonight that uncopyright works in a celebrity economy where popular people receive "payment" (monetary or no) based more upon social status than anything that actually relates to content or artistic endeavor (not to say that necessarily applies to Leo B). I suppose that's controversial. Whoops.
  4. If you're going to curate other peoples' content, "hand-pick" it. People know when they're dealing with a person, and when they're dealing with an algorithm. "Curation is not aggregation."
  5. When there’s nothing else on, you’re more likely to watch an infomercial. Sometimes, scheduling posts (or, if you're awake, posting in real-time) at 3 AM is helpful for late-nighters, or folk waking up in a different time zone. "When there's little else being Tweeted, your tweets are more likely to stand out."
  6. Tell your audience about what you believe, not about what you do. Inspire people, don't manipulate them, and they will become loyal to your brand for the long term. Don't buy attention, earn it. 
  7. Another thought from the Belief blog above - sometimes, when I'm reading through marketing strategy, I'm reminded of a quasi-seminary course on gospel contextualization that I took a few years back. It's theology. It is understanding the culture you are entering into and working for the good of that culture. ("Inspiring, not manipulating, etc.") That comparison will immediately turn people off. I'm not saying that the best gospel approach is always the equivalent of excellent marketing strategies. Personally, if it's only for the sake of the show, then I'm over the show. But if it's true that the best "marketing" is truth telling via inspiration for the purpose of inspiring, then I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, either. 
  8. Unplug. "Notifications create a sense of urgency around something that is not important at all."
  9. Manage your energy, not your time. I'm usually disappointed in myself if I start to mull over how many hours of work I've put in for the day - even if I've put in more than the conventional 9-5. I never think that it's enough. This idea of energy management was first introduced to me - and I already know what you're going to think here - by Mark Driscoll. I suppose that doesn't lend any credibility to the idea, but I find it helpful, nonetheless, for a self-condemned workaholic who rarely feels like he's done enough to justify stopping for the day. 
  10. Stop saying "yes". This is another idea from #9. It's something I've always been terrible at, but have been trying to practice more and more. I'm sure it makes that there is a connection between always saying "yes" to everything, and workaholism. I don't know that I'm actually that - this is, after all, a self-diagnosis - but I haven't said "no" more and more because I've enjoyed it. More because I feel like I have to if my brain is going to continue to function well within the most important spheres of life, here and now - aka: marriage, friendships / family, local community, job, etc.

I'm extremely interested in all of this stuff. As an experiment, I've started to post a little bit more about it from both Levi Macallister and Levi The Poet channels and it has become clear to me that - for better or worse as it relates to my social media strategy - the majority of you who read what I write are not interested. (Granted, my social media "strategy" is not currently a strategy as much as it is sharing funny things and quoting people who are smarter than I am.) Perhaps it's an opportunity for me to learn. Is it the content or the way it's presented? Would others be more interested in learning alongside me if it were pitched in more of a "How To / DIY for Independent Artists" type of thing? My friend Andy Othling killed it about a year ago with his own Toolkit for Independent Artists course. At any rate, writing this out today has helped me understand a bit more of what I filled my brain with all morning, and whether anyone made it this far or not, it was good for me. 

If you do have any thoughts that are in any way related - whether as an entrepreneur in business, an independent artist, or as a fan or follower of one - I'd be interested in hearing any feedback you might have. Feel free to comment below and I'll try to continue the conversation as soon as I can.