Welcome to part two of our social media tree analogy. You can find part 1 here and part 3 soon!
Break Through to the World Above
In our first installment, we discussed how your owned media needs room and nutrients to grow. Once your roots begin to spread seeds begin their journey up, seeking different nutrients. Two important things happen at this stage. First they grow leaves and second they go through a hardening off phase. Lets look at these in depth.
Leaves are essentially solar panels. They gather light and allow water and air to move through the plant. For many species, the leaves direct the rain fall closer to the root system as well. Your social media leaves are your entries to new networks and communities. They are your profiles that collect feedback from your environment. The interaction with your audience is the one part your owned media (your seed) can’t do for itself. As you reach further into the social world you have an opportunity to attract and interact with your audience. This helps foster relationships, create awareness, and ultimately generate sales. Just as some plants use leaves to direct water, you will use social media to drive traffic to your roots/ owned media.
Hardening off is a term used to describe the process new plants go through when exposed to the elements above ground. WInd, rain, drought, animals, and human interference all have a significant impact on a small plant. This process helps plants adapt to their environment and grow a strong base. In time, this will often become the trunk of a huge tree. Ask yourself how well you have adapted to the social media environment. Each network has its own climate. Living on Facebook is not the same as Twitter. Living on Reddit is miles from Pinterest. You can live on each but you need to adapt. Part of hardening off in social media involves learning how to deal with negative feedback, backlash, and failed campaigns. Expecting these issues is important but having a process for dealing with them is even more crucial to long term survival. Many plants cling to others or to buildings such as vines. You can attach your brand to trends if it is done well. Recently there was a major leak of celebrity images. Mostly they were private pictures that were taken with cell phones and never meant for a wide audience. Spirit Airlines tried to jump on the hacking news by releasing an email that said, “Our bare fare was hacked!” As you can imagine, this did not go over well.
Social media is an extension of our roots but in a new direction. One with risks and concerns because now you are a sapling in a forest. You are not protected by the soil. Many people seek to move from sapling to tree as quickly as possible. There are techniques to speed the process but they are not without risks. A plant given too much of the wrong nutrients or not enough of the right ones are susceptible to bolting. This is when a plant grows too much in one direction without balance. You may find plants with large gaps between leaf nodes or perhaps they have lots of leaves but no fruit. What we’re addressing here is paid media.
Paid media will help you grow awareness quickly but there are drawbacks. Simply put, paid media is any attention you pay for. It could be an ad, a PR placement, or buying fans on a social network. Once you stop paying, your awareness drops. Ideally paid media is part of a well rounded campaign. It should be closely monitored and targeted. Buying fans is never a good idea. Buying tons of keywords without a strategy is never a good idea. Just like plants you want to have a specific fertilizer in mind. Test often and refine based on your results.
In our final part of our series we will discuss branches and seeds. How you grow tall and help produce real returns. Stay tuned and please leave comments below.
Image courtesy of Flickr user mr_t_in_dc