It is a few weeks into the spring semester and the MU School of Journalism students are out IN FORCE to interview all sorts of willing subjects for print, video, and/or audio assignments. And we at PJP never turn down a request because our theory is a) the more, the merrier in the PJP kitchen and b) if you are brave enough to call and ask for an interview, you are automatically equipped with way more moxie than I was when a sophomore in college...and that should be rewarded with an all-access backstage pass to PJP. One of the most common questions I receive during my extensive second-year-journalism-student-interview-experience is about the role of social media in building a small business. And it isn't just future Tom Brokaws and Katie Courics that want the answer...I average at least one or two emails a week from someone considering starting a new business and wanting to know what I think about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn, and blogging.
To sum it up nicely, I think YES. Absolutely, served with a side of without question, and followed up by a chaser of do it now.
But with one small caveat (and isn't there always a catch?)...the person doing the Facebooking, Twittering, Instagramming, Vining, Tumblr-ing, pinning, Google +ing, LinkedIn-ing, and/or blogging has to like doing it and put substantial effort and thought into it. Otherwise, it really doesn't work and the results are worse than have no social media presence at all. Ever look to find a business on Facebook and the last post on their page was two years ago? Or the grammar in the latest post was cringe-worthy? KILLS ME. I saw a post earlier this week on my personal Facebook from a business that I very much like, but has little social media presence. Without revealing too much, it was a rambling narrative that made little sense and was just, well, weird. And now I don't find myself thinking about what I like about that place...I find myself thinking about that weird post.
Our businesses - and in turn, our branding efforts - are more accessible now than ever through all the social media outlets. I've found that providing the most authentic view into PJP and World Pie Domination is the best fit for me...and notice that I say "me" and not "us"...Jeanne perpetually forgets her Facebook login, distrusts all hashtags, has never heard of Tumblr, and has guest blogged here once in almost 300 posts. And that is ok, because I couldn't make a chocolate rose or put a lattice top on a pie in under 30 seconds if my very life depended on it. Working toward our strengths has been an important part of our learning curve. The point is that blogging once every 300 days or so doesn't work, so if you are like Jeanne and the thought of logging in and writing more nights than not makes you stabby, then you should probably hire someone to do it. (Or make a playlist full of Jason Isbell, Angus & Julia Stone, and The National and see if that helps you because I've written a lot of words with "Songs That She Sang In The Shower" blasting through my Beats...) And all that said, maybe your personality doesn't lend itself to perpetual over-sharing about your madcap antics and epic fails...so maybe you need another strategy for sharing your business strategy online. That is really the beauty of this whole game...it is uniquely subjective.
So that is my take on social media. Love it and do it with all that you have. Oh, and I still can't figure out why people like LinkedIn. #SorryNotSorry.