It is such a pleasure to be blogging for all of you and I really hope that you will find these bi-weekly posts useful.
Three years ago, I was hired to work as the Editor-In-Chief here at PBD. I knew the moment I was hired that I was about to embark on my “dream job” but it wasn’t for the reasons I imagined at the time. Well, not only those reasons. Back then, I thought it was because I would be able to spend my days writing for one of the most incredible designers in the world. Today, I know that, yes, it was that, but so much more than sitting at a desk typing away. I soon realized that I was working for a man who strongly encouraged a dynamic, flexible and creative environment and was inspired by growth and experimentation. This meant that my job description would shrink and expand in accordance with my initiative (a great feeling). I felt this was the perfect energy to be surrounded by when pitching the idea of spending as much time on the content of social media platforms as on the website. Back then, social media consisted mostly of personal Facebook pages on which links to blog posts were uploaded on occasion, or in our situation, on a specified hour, three times a day. Business owners were just beginning to wrap their minds around the idea of branded pages and most really saw them as little more than a collection of “likes” from current customers and kind family members and friends. When I mentioned that I wanted to utilize Facebook as a platform to engage readers in a new way (and subsequently re-launch and launch Twitter and Instagram, respectively), the boss was as supportive as ever, but a little apprehensive about the time I wanted to spend on the project and not entirely convinced of its usefulness in terms of the overall brand.
I then asked him the question that would be asked dozens of times later over the years:
“Can I have some time to show you?” I asked.
He looked up with a smile. “Yes, show me!”
I had (big) goals, but didn’t share them at that time as, frankly, I was a little nervous (“please don’t fail, please don’t fail”) and he was OK with giving it a try and seeing what happened. We did just that. There were mistakes and stagnant posts and ones that got three or four comments, and then ones that had 5,000 shares and over 1,000 likes. When that happened, I ran to him excitedly, and again, he was supportive, but it took some time for him to get to know the platform (and let’s face it; he’s kind of busy). A year later, we had doubled our followers, but aside from the blog, there was still a wall between Preston and his audience and we hit a plateau. One morning, in our early brainstorming sessions, we decided to try something new. Instead of talking “at” the audience, we decided to have Preston talk directly to them. We shared his personal and candid comment about one of his designs that really showed off his sense of humor.
Boom! The wall came down.
Preston saw the impact of the post immediately and we began to open the doors of our offices and give readers direct contact to PB and the entire staff. Before we knew it, our platforms–and online brand–were expanding, and not just with likes and shares, but with real time conversations with readers, fans, colleagues and industry professionals; we had started a conversation and were building a community. Editors and other brands were reaching out in new ways and we were able to express Preston’s thoughts in a space that we controlled. That’s when things became very, very exciting. Not only were our readers gaining access to Preston, he was gaining access to them; a a huge benefit to a business owner.
Today, Preston is actively involved in all aspects of our our online brand, and he takes each area very seriously. He reads the comments on all of his platforms daily, and we, as a team, do our best to give the feedback our readers ask for. We have learned (and are still learning) what works and what doesn’t, and this will never change as social media and online content strategy is an ever growing, ever-changing community.
The Bottom Line: Like many of you, Preston was not aware of the power of social media and online branding, he didn’t really understand it and he wasn’t that interested it (sorry, boss; being honest). But he was open and flexible and curious, and he allowed the space and time to see what was possible. That’s what made everything possible.
If you’re one of those people who is open, this series is for you. Over the next few months, I will be sharing tips, answering questions and doing all I can to support you as you launch and relaunch your own social media platforms, blogs and websites. It is my hope that the series carries the same energy as is found in our office. I want it to be dynamic, interactive and fun! Feel free to ask questions, leave comments and share your own knowledge! That last one is important. If you’re going to join us, let’s do this. Let’s commit. We are all going to bring something to the table. Each and every post, I want you to share something you have learned in the comment section. Your tidbit could be an a-ha moment for someone else, even if it simply encourages them (or me) to do a bit more research.
Here is your homework this week:
Accept there is proven value in social media, even if you don’t know what it is yet. This is a tall order, I know, but there is a reason that timeless, traditional–and successful–brands like Vogue, Chanel and Dior have invested time, money and energy in building a strong online presence. That reason? It works. Used correctly, these platforms can be used to increase brand awareness and legitimization, distribute content, offer access to existing and potential clients, help a brand owner to tweak and improve their services and branding strategy while increasing the ROI (return on investment).
Allow Yourself To Be Overwhelmed. Then Let It Go. Think about the times in which you approached something new in the past. Be it tying your shoe at three, learning to ride a bike, applying for the college you were sure you would never get into or starting your business, there was always a point in which most of us stopped and felt a little anxiety. The unknown can be exciting, but also fear-inducing, which is why knowledge really is power. Take some time to get to know your options before you start to launch or revamp your social media platforms. I say this because if you’re anything like me, you’re likely reading this and thinking, “oh no, I need to do this now!” You don’t. No, seriously, don’t!
Know what you’re committing to. Right now, you’re committing to being open-minded, rethinking your current strategy and dedicating some time to your virtual business.
Finally, try not to make your blogs this long. First post, we had a lot to cover (that will be my excuse).
Tell me what you’re most looking forward to learning in this series? How do you feel about social media for business?
Brenda Della Casa is the editor-in-chief and social media strategist for Preston Bailey Designs.