Butterflies in the stomach, fresh crayons, so many new faces, and each day a new adventure. As each school year starts and closes, I'm reminded how much of what I do today in social media builds upon what I picked up when I was five-years-old, dwarfed by a boxy backpack, fresh off the school bus.
Social media can seem like an intimidating force -- full of platforms, algorithms, and statistics; leaving us to coordinate, analyze, and translate. The truth of the matter is that it's only as complicated as we make it, and we may all be better off guided by what we learned that first year of school. Here's what I mean.
Pictures are awesome
Drawing pictures, coloring pictures, painting pictures -- you name it, pictures have been winning us over since we first pressed a crayon into construction paper. Images in social media wallop text-only threads in engagement and reach, and it's not just because they are pretty. Images take less time to process, are more impactful, and tease out emotional responses more readily than words ever have a chance to do. Images are also more easily translated and relatable, making them a celebrated form of created content. Just ask Instagram and Pinterest…and Facebook, and Twitter.
...So is show-and-tell
Bring your favorite toy from home, talk about it in front of the entire class, field comments, and answer questions about what makes it so amazing. Show-and-tell is just classic, old-school social media. And the best ones were interactive and included some audience participation. Channel that show-and-tell excitement into your social media campaign with insights into a featured product or service, and make sure to explain why you think it's amazing and why you hope your followers do, too. Encourage them to ask questions. You never know when they'll show and tell you a thing or two.
…And birthday cupcakes
Where else can you celebrate a birthday and not have to do anything but eat the delicious cupcakes that the birthday boy or girl brought in for everyone else? In social media! Except instead of cupcakes, forward-thinking companies capitalize on their anniversaries (and really any day) by running exciting promotions and giving away free stuff. Everyone wants to feel like they are worthy of a party invite -- so invite everyone to party.
Writing is hard work
Writing words isn't easy, whether you are holding a pencil for the first time or writing Facebook updates for the one-thousandth time. Either way, when it comes to doing good work, you are going to have to put the time in to make sure your posts, headlines, and image content come out exactly as you intend them. Be guided by example, don't overthink it, and don't press too hard.
...So is being liked
Wanting to be liked isn't just a Facebook thing -- it harkens back to the very first time we set foot in a classroom, eyes flitting about nervously looking for familiar faces. We would make friends by finding things in common with each other, be it the same backpack, same love of peanut butter and banana, or the same soccer team. Businesses use social media in much the same way, devoting time and resources to figuring out what drives and excites their fans and followers to make them feel deeply connected to the brand and each other.
There is great comfort in knowing where you sit
I remember the first time I walked into my kindergarten classroom, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of all the activity and kids. So many games and conversations had already been started, and I wasn't sure how I fit into the mix. It wasn't until the teacher guided me to my cubby and my desk that things started to feel less intimidating. Seeing and hearing my name was a great comfort.
Of course, you can see how this translates into social media; the more people who know your company and the products you create on a first name basis, the better you feel about your general outlook. Keep making introductions, be approachable, and encourage people to keep saying and using your name in a positive way.
Above all, just be nice
This one doesn't need further description. We all learned fairly quickly how well the day goes when everyone gets along, treating each other with kindness while still learning from moments of managed disruption and conflict. Keep your message positive and genuine, and everyone benefits. And if you have a way to encourage a good sidesplitting giggle once in a while, we're all better for it.
Your social media campaign doesn't need to be complicated to be successful, although sticking with the basics is often more easily said than written, captured, and posted. When you get too bogged down in the details, pick up what got you through kindergarten and start from there. Crayons optional.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.
"Kid playing mathematics game with toys in kindergarten" image via Shutterstock.