5 ways to try social media without your boss’ permission.Posted on Thu Jul 23 2009
The good news? Your company will come around, sooner or later. The bad news? If you personally wait until that day to try social media as a marketing tool, you’ll have a hard time starting strong.
Using social media for business is dramatically different from using it for everyday life. Once your company decides to make the leap, you want to be ready to hit the ground running.
So how do you get social media marketing experience without the boss’ permission? A few tips, after the jump:
1. Promote your church.
Churches are perfect candidates for social media marketing. Each one has a passionate base of support, along with a commitment to attracting and informing new “customers.”
A few options:
• Facebook: Create a fan page, a “Causes” page for your church’s favorite charity, or a targeted advertising campaign (you’ll be amazed how many locally targeted ads you can buy for just a few bucks on Facebook).
• Launch a Twitter feed to keep members up to speed on events
• Put together a LinkedIn group for the professionals who attend your church
• Create a customized social network on Ning, just so you can see what a tremendously unappreciated waste of time it ends up being. Kidding. Well, not really.
Chances are, your church is already using some of these channels, but it’s still worth talking to your congregation leader to see how you can help.
2. Bring new life to your family history.
Maybe it’s your grandfather’s war photos, or your mom’s sprawling recipe collection.
For me, it was my great-aunt’s diary. That project required me to experiment with a range of Twitter tools to see which would work best. I’ve since been able to use that experience for client work, training and more.
The real challenge here is not just to create something, but also to promote it. That fact can really change your approach, especially if you keep asking yourself how you can make the project appeal to a larger audience than just your immediate family.
3. Create a niche blog for one of your passions.
Again, the challenge isn’t in launching a blog and posting to it on occasion. Can you create a great-looking, intriguing, well-written blog and keep it stocked throughout the week? Can you build an audience from zero and get it into the thousands?
It all starts with the topic. What do you care about so much that you would muscle through writer’s block and busy schedules to keep it updated? Is it something you collect? A favorite genre of literature? Your take on the best new iPhone apps?
If you’re serious about social media marketing, be serious about the blog. Treat it like you’re being paid to make it a success. Who knows? Someday you might be.
4. Go spec with major brand names.
One famous example is the Coca-Cola fan page on Facebook, which is now an official part of the company’s marketing but began as an unauthorized side project. Here’s how the blog Mashable summarized it:
The page was originally created by two fans who just loved Coke. Coca-Cola found the page, and rather than trying to buy it or create another “official” page, they rewarded the two fans and worked with them to continue building the page and representing the brand.
So while the most likely outcome of creating a “fake” social media project for a major brand is probably still a cease and desist warning, there is a chance that you could instead end up getting hired.
5. Help make your company “internally social.”
If your boss is scared of trying social media for your business, the source of the problem is likely just a lack of familiarity with the tools.
Luckily, you can bring almost any social media platform into the cozy confines of your office by creating a more advanced (and easier-to-use) intranet.
Thanks to ever-improving privacy settings, it’s easy to create a closed environment for your company on some of the most popular social networks. If you’re focused on discussion over file sharing, closed groups on LinkedIn and Facebook could probably do the trick.
Another option is Yammer, which is like a “private Twitter” that can give you all the benefits of Twitter’s approach to open dialogue, without exposing your every word to the whole world. Several companies have used Yammer to test the microblogging waters before staking out an official presence on Twitter.
So the moral is, there’s no reason that your social media marketing savvy should be held back by your company’s reluctance. Experimenting in the world of “professional social media” can be an incredible learning experience. But just to warn you, treating it like a job can also suck out a lot of the fun and leave social media feeling like, well, a job.