How can you use social media effectively as a social entrepreneur?
In our last blog, we explored building an authentic audience through social media. In this blog, we’re expanding on that, but understanding a little bit more about what social media typically is and how we can change our interactions with that.
And by changing our interactions, what I mean is seeing if we can change how we share information so that it’s not one way, but is in effect about the people that we’re connecting with to better build a community.
Recently, we had Gabriele Donati of TimeRepublik on the podcast, and he shared some interesting insights into why time banking builds trust into the community of your business.
But one thing that he said that struck me was that they’re the only social media platform that makes people happier. Time Republik’s platform uses a form of time banking that basically takes money out of the equation and puts back the importance of creating relationships between people, rather than the transaction.
There’s something special when you’re sharing your time and your skills to help somebody else. And really there’s this essence of natural joy inside of us, that arises when we’re giving, something that Gabriele has really enjoyed seeing blossom on his platform.
For me, it made me reflect on how much the information that we share on social media is one way. You put information out there other people consume it; it’s not designed to build the community.
For the community, you need to focus on answering questions or on what benefit you’re providing others and connecting with them and listening to them, and making it about them. So often with social media, it’s about us and what we want to portray to the world.
So, how is this relevant for social entrepreneurs?
Well, with the social entrepreneur, you’re making an impact in your community, and you have this wealth of information about the cause that you’re supporting.
But the questions here are:
- Can you educate people about the social issue that are you solving?
- How can you get more people involved, either through what you’re offering or through other means that they can support this cause as well?
Naturally, as a business, you want to find the right customers and people that want to support you in what you’re doing. Whether you are a nonprofit or consumer brand, there is an element on social media of being able to tell your story and communicate that to your audience.
One of the more powerful things is using that interaction to build a community.
Turning Interactions into a Community
Earlier in the year, I did one of the first events I had done since the pandemic began, I went out to 3 Tree’s C-bus clean crawl. We went around the community picking up trash. They had promoted this on social media and shared the story about what they were doing.
And I felt excited to kind of go out and participate. I felt great doing this, going out, and getting this feedback from the community. And that made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.
3Tree had done something really great, but using social media to bring people together to serve the greater community. And I think they’re a very good example of just how to use social media and sharing information to get people more involved.
Building a Community through Social Media
When you only use social media to share the story about what you’re doing or what you’ve done, this is your highlight reel. This is a very addictive, typical way that we use social media.
People will scroll through social media and take a look at what other peoples are doing and compare themselves. But for the person consuming that social media, it’s not really fulfilling. I often use Instagram as a distraction almost just to fill up time when I’m sitting around with nothing else to do.
Or I try to use it to feel more connected as if it connects me with the experience of others. But to be honest, it doesn’t really do that. The things that I enjoy about social media are when it informs him about events or things that I can get involved in.
For example, if a friend of mine is doing a Kickstarter and I see something about it on Instagram, it’s a great reminder to go and help them out. Or when Anthony was posting about his pop-up at freedom a la cart for his restaurant concept Fante Cina, which is solving food insecurity. It reminded me to go out and get some great food from what he was cooking.
What my point is, as you look at how are you using social media instead of trying to use it to get more customers or get more people to be aware of what you’re doing, use it to build a community. And with that, make sure that you give people a way to get involved and then put your attention on building that community and make sure that people are responded to, and that they’re included by you in whatever discussion that you are facilitating.
I can tell building a community is a hot topic right now. It’s something that Jay Clouse from the freelancing school and SPI talk about a lot in his workshops and the work that he does. And Hetzel, who is just a fantastic copywriter, has been offering workshops on building community as well.
In this last podcast with Gabriele Donati on TimeRepublik, he mentioned how, when you start a new community, that for the first six months or a year, you put in a lot of effort just to make sure that people are engaged. You have to show up, respond to people when they come in, post things that will generate a discussion, make sure that you’re listening to what people’s needs are, and hearing them. And then really giving it all the energy it needs to get going.
If you can get that spark in that momentum going, then, it’s like planting a seed in the ground. At some point, it comes to fruition, and it’s self-sustaining, but it takes a lot of effort in the beginning to get it going and people want to be part of something.
And so I think, especially with the pandemic where we’ve been more disconnected than ever in the last year, as people start coming out of that and coming back together in their community, they’re looking for experiences that will bring them back in.
So as a social entrepreneur, how can you take all these people who want to be involved and get them involved in what you’re doing and give them an easy way to contribute to their community?
The joy that we get from when we give our time and our attention is so invaluable. So how can you help others to give back and be part of this? That’s the question that you should be asking if they’re thinking about “how can I approach social media and use it more effectively?”
So with social media, step back and turn it around from the approach of ‘how can I get more followers and give them more information about what I’m doing so that I can sell a product’ to ‘how can I build a community and use our resources to make the people interested in my cause more of a part of it?’
Giving them, you know, a way to have that discussion a way to give their time, their energy, and their support to improving their community around them, through you, make it about them. And you’ll find it’s not only more fulfilling for them, but it’s also more useful and not just wasting time, tooting your own horn about your accomplishments and your highlights.