Recommendation: Marketing with Social Media by Linda Coles

In preparation for my new role, I’ve been doing some focused reading about social media – platform pros and cons, engagement, content development and so on.

One of my favourite books on the topic, so far, is Marketing with Social Media: 10 Easy Steps to Success for Business by Linda Coles (who actually lives here in New Zealand).

I found her book filled with practical and applicable tips. It was particularly useful to have dedicated chapters for specific platforms, as it made it easy to digest the information, and then dip back in for another look. I thought it was worthwhile to have real-world examples of strategies that have been used – and some discussion of what did or didn’t work – to ground the suggestions provided.

There are detailed discussions around development of a social media plan and a content plan, with blank templates provided, which the reader can use or adapt to their own needs. I think it’s massively important to do some thoughtful planning before embarking on any kind of social media project, especially when brand and reputation are one the line. And I found the resources provided strong support to achieve this.

Not just applicable for business, I believe there are also applicable tips, information and resources for institutions (cultural or otherwise) and even individuals looking to build a more professional social media presence.

Here are five things from the book that stood out for me.

“No one wants to read uninteresting articles.” (Pg 18)

Sounds obvious, I know, but I think it’s a good point to emphasize, and leads to the importance of developing strong content, knowing your audience (or the platform’s audience) and putting some thought into the content you share.

“If you can dress your message up in a true story rather than a bunch of facts and figures, it will become more memorable.” (Pg 24)

This harks back to a point I also discussed in my review post of Beverly Serrell’s book about museum interpretation. It’s good to consider that stories also serve as an effective interpretive tool when creating content for social media.

Add value, don’t sell. Nobody likes to be sold to, so gain people’s trust and respect by sending out interesting article links about your field of experience.” (Pg 87)

This is really true – I’ve stopped following more than one account that I felt wasn’t actually delivering much in the way of content, that was all ‘me, me, me’. This links in well with the idea that when you’re sharing content on social media, you should follow the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your content can be your own, but it’s a good idea that the other 80% is content shared from other (reputable) sources.

“Remember, first impressions count, so don’t let all of your hard work be undone by spelling mistakes.” (Pg 108)

It’s likely highly unsurprising that I’ve pulled this one out – but it is really frustrating to see good content pretty much ruined by a typo. It’s something I’m a bit paranoid about myself when posting, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes. If I can’t get another set of eyes on my content – which is not always possible with fast-moving social media – I spellcheck where I can or leave it for as long as possible after the first draft before having another look, and then posting.

“Unless there is a mutual understanding between you and your contacts regarding jargon and etiquette when using social media sites…rather than creating greater engagement you may, instead, not only confuse, but exclude.” (Pg 123)

I like the idea of creating sharing social media content as contributing to a community. To do this, and to be heard and understood, it is important to know the tone, terminology and voice of the audience, and the medium, to minimize the risk of alienating your readers.

I’d recommend reading this book if you’re starting out on a business-focused social media endeavour, or making the transition from personal to professional profiles.


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