Social Media has as Nothing to do with Media

The irony about the term “social media” is that the category isn’t about media at all.  You should fill your social channels with content that appeals to the group you’re trying to engage.  Unless yours is a social community for journalists, then you should think beyond what interests media and find out what your community really wants.

That’s not to say that media won’t follow what you are saying in social media, just that the content that typically works best in social media may not always be of interest to media.

What you’ll find once you stop thinking about media as the audience is that it opens up the possibilities for content that may not have otherwise been conceived.  In traditional PR terms, that means things like timeliness, newsworthiness and appealing to the masses.  For social channels, you’re looking for the right context and content that will bring value to the discussion.  I’m not saying that it’s any less stringent than what you would offer media.  In many ways it’s more so.

The only way to know what will appeal to your community is to actually be in your community.  The ways and reasons to do that is the topic for another post, but it should be someone’s job to know what content the community wants, what it doesn’t and to know that it’s alright if it doesn’t draw in media or result in an article or post.

whole_foods_logoA great example is what WholeFoods has done with its @WholeFoods Twitter feed.  It’s billed as “Fresh organic tweets from Whole Foods Market HQ in Austin, TX,“ but what I get from it is a sense of the culture of the company, and useful things to know before I lay down my cash in the store.  It’s getting increasingly tough for WholeFoods to get out the information in the midst of addressing specific customer inquiries through this main channel.  But, you’ll see the variety in what they try to post and how it’s not necessarily something that media would have been interested in.  What they’ve created is as close as you can get to retail online in a Twitter feed – hints, tips, questions asked and answered.  Understanding what works requires someone(s) being in the community every day monitoring and interacting with the people.

This approach of not looking at media as a target also translates when deciding which content to post on social channels when that content originates as part of a program or campaign.  When deciding what to post to a social channel, have a discipline in place that says it’s not a foregone conclusion that all content will make its way to your social channels.

Remember that you’re building the trust of the communities that form around your content.  Every time you post something, you’re leveraging your brand’s social capital.  These are the daily decisions that can determine the overall strength of your social program.

(Originally published on

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