How to Use Social Networking in your Community

This past year, I spent a great deal of time putting together HootUps (TweetUps sponsored by Hootsuite) in my community. When I started, I had a plan of bringing a HootUp to various local businesses, as a means of promoting local business. It started out very well. Over 100 people showed up for our first one. Six months later, though, the shine had worn off. Like many things in Social Media, the novelty of the idea had disappeared as quickly as the idea.

When analyzing the concept, I realized what wasn’t working. The Social Media gathering was fine, but the activity had grown stale. A bunch of people standing about, chatting about Social Media and community just wasn’t interesting any more.

Adapting the Game Plan

The interest in Social Media, where I live, is there. Everyday there is a new business or a new user jumping into the stream. It is obvious that the businesses all want to be seen by the community and the community wants to be heard by the businesses. If I was going to try and bring those two groups together again this year, it was going to have to be something other than the old “grip and grin” over a beer.

Following a successful food and toy drive over the holidays, in which Social Media played a big part, it hit me. I don’t need to bring people to a Social Media event. I need to bring Social Media to a people event.

How to Use Social Networking in your Community: Find Fun, Then Be Social

Think about the events and activities that happen around your community. Lots of people, lots of fun and lots of good vibe. It’s the perfect atmosphere to share with people, because there is stuff happening that is worth sharing. Fireworks on Canada Day, organization fund raisers, and grand openings of whatever – all with people enjoying themselves in the company of others. Throw in some Smartphones with a variety of Social Media platforms, and you have yourself a Social Media gathering.

If you are a business, it’s the ideal time to share your name and brand, showing that you are part of the community and enjoy being out in it. The chances of a Facebook post, on your FB page, of people having fun where you live, has a better chance of being shared than the regular post you have on your product or service.

Here are some thoughts I will be applying to Social Media in my community as I grow the 2013 #HootUpCR schedule:

  1. Canada Day. This day screams Social Media. Pick 2 or 3 events and invite the Social Media community to join you at them. Have a little contest to see who posts the best pic to Facebook or Tweets the most from each event.
  2. The Grand Opening. New buildings and businesses are slated to open their doors during the year. Touch base with the event organizer and have them offer some fun incentives targeted at local Social Media users.
  3. The Rally Race. Some organization in town is going to have a rally race sometime during the year. On top of the usual prizes for wildest costume or first to get all the items on the list, throw in a “who does the most check-in’s on Foursquare” prize.
  4. The “Tweet This #hashtag Challenge”. Share a template that people can print out with the community hashtag on it (#campbellriver, #yyj, etc.). Then challenge your local Social Media community to Tweet out a picture with the hashtag sign in it. Gather, after a couple of days, and hand out prize for Best Pic, Most Unique Location, etc. Good for a laugh and GREAT for community promotion, especially for sectors like Tourism.

What it comes down to is that no one ever said a Tweet Up, Social Media gathering or community promotion had to be in a single place and that it had to be a “Burger & Beer” event. All it has to be is Social.

Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in ThatSocialMediaGuy.com, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. In 2009, Sean started focusing on the world of Social Media, something he had been learning about since jumping into Facebook in 2006 and Twitter in 2008. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, and has been guest speaker for numerous business events.

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