They are more similar than you may think.
In the same week I put in my two week notice as the Senior Manager of Digital for the Phoenix Suns I also found out that my wife was pregnant. It was a lot of life change all at once but, little did I realize, parenthood was going to be a journey that felt quite familiar to my career in social media.
It’s sounds a bit crazy, but then again, so does parenthood and social media when you think about it at a base level. Parenthood is all about a stranger who can’t do anything for itself, including fall asleep, moving into your house and changing every aspect of your world. Social media is all about welcoming complete strangers into your “home” and communicating with them as if they’re your friends. Like I said, kind of weird.
The good news is, if you put forth the right amount of effort into taking care of each you’ll have both a beautiful and growing child and a beautiful and growing social community. But how do you get there? There are five common steps.
Understand Each Has a Unique Personality
Whether it’s a baby or social media accounts, you have to accept the fact that no two are alike. No matter how many times you’ve seen it before, each is different and the way you handle and approach them should be different too. There is no one size fits all approach.
While advice, books, blogs and old wives’ tales are all well and good and some great insight can be gleaned from them, you have to spend the time learning about each new situation you find yourself in.
With both my daughter and my new social media job in a different industry, I had to spend the time getting to know each and learning what made them tick before understanding how to have a positive impact on them.
What no one tells you about having a child is that there comes a time a few days after they’re born that you have to leave the hospital and all the nurses and doctors who helped you with every little thing don’t come along. You have to learn the best way to feed, change and care for your newborn in every situation.
Your social media following is the same way. You have to nurture it and take care of it constantly and there won’t be group of experts there to help you (unless you hire them). Unique and creative content is the key element. Creating fresh content regularly and quickly responding to all the questions and comments on your account keeps your followers active and growing.
About six months ago my daughter started eating more than just breastmilk. I was in charge of helping her eat at the table for the first time. She had one of those bizarre fruit/vegetable mixes that was a green pear and pea — why we punish our children like this, I don’t know — in one of those squeezable packets. I looked down for less than a second to check an alert on my watch and by the time I looked back up she, and her entire outfit, looked like it had had a close encounter with Slimer. Green puree everywhere except for in her mouth.
Your social accounts can fall prey to the same thing. Take your attention away from them for even the slightest amount of time and you’re going to have a complete and utter mess on your hands. The difference between a kid and your accounts? Baby wipes and a few minutes gets rid of the puree, angry followers or a public embarrassment take a lot more time and effort to clean up and, if it’s bad enough, you might not even get the chance.
It may sounds like an awful idea to experiment with your child but I’m not talking about any Dr. Frankenstein stuff. I’m talking about experimenting with what they may or may not like. As we’ve already established, each are different so you have to figure out what entertains them, what they like to eat, what soothes them and a myriad of other things. Believe me, you’ll try almost anything to make your little one feel better when you hear them cry the first few times.
You’ll need to experiment when it comes to each of your social channels. There is no one size fits all answer to content. In fact, what works one day won’t necessarily work the next thanks to algorithms, burn out and audience’s preferences. Constantly change your content up and try new things on new channels. Don’t be afraid to see what other industries are doing and implement them in yours as well.
The most rewarding thing as a father is hearing my little girl giggle. It’s the best sound by far. A million times better than the roar of a crowd in sports and at least a couple times better than the theme music for NBA Jam or even Saved By the Bell. The easiest way to get a great reaction from your child? Simply entertain them. The simplicity of a well placed goofy face will get the job done every time.
The social equivalent of that giggle is the share, retweet, like, etc. The easiest way to get that? You guessed it, simply entertain your audience. Fancy graphics, well produced video and the perfect copy is always nice to have but sometimes simply understanding your audience enough to know what will make them react is the real winner.
This is just the foundation of growth and by no means the end. Just like you bring your child to the doctor for a checkup regularly during the first few years of their life, you need to be putting your social accounts through rigorous check ups as well to make sure they’re healthy and growing properly. You’ll learn, you’ll adjust and you’ll keep changing your strategy as time moves on.
As a ten year veteran of social media and a one year veteran of fatherhood, I can tell you you’ll constantly refer back to these simple steps and implement them over and over and it seems to be working as both the accounts I manage and the little girl I somehow was put in charge of are both healthy and growing.
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