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The First Step in Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t What You Think

Social media is vital to content distribution. Filmmakers, photographers and journalists who don’t use it are missing out on the opportunity to build direct relationships with their audience. But getting social online can feel overwhelming to storytellers who don’t use these tools in their personal lives. In our Methodology workshops, the first questions participants looking to get started with social media ask me are: which platforms are worth my time and what in the world do I talk about all day?

It seems daunting, but the answer to both questions is simple: Listen first.

It’s easy to overlook the value of listening when socializing online or in person. Our instinct is to just dive in. But that’s not a strategic way to build your business. As every great procrastinator knows, new social platforms and tools are debuting all the time and it’s easy for social media to turn into a time suck that steals productivity rather than a tool that promotes your work.

Aly, Cortney & Samia – The women of MediaStorm get social.
Photo: Shameel Arafin / MediaStorm


Before you jump in to something new, pay attention to where your network is. Ask yourself:

  • What social networks do potential clients I want to work with use?
  • Where are my competitors active online?
  • What companies and creators do I look up to? How are they sharing content?

These are the places you want to be. It’s the same reasoning you use to choose what party to go to. You’re usually going to choose the event you know everyone is going to attend (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) or the one where you know people similar to you will be (for a photography and film advocate like MediaStorm, that means sites like Instagram and Vimeo).

Ok, you’ve set up a social media profile. Now what? Keep listening.

Any type of social interaction involves an exchange. To get value out of social media, prove yourself valuable.

Think about:

  • What are common questions your clients ask you?
  • What resources and work are you and your collaborators sharing?
  • What are you excited about right now that your industry is overlooking?

That’s what you should be talking about online. Information that’s timely, interesting and helpful. When I say this in workshops, inevitably one participant will ask, “what about MY work? I’m on social media to market ME.” The social rules that guide us in the real world rule online. No one wants to engage with someone who only talks about themselves. The information you share does more than provide context for your work. People are surprisingly more receptive to viewing and sharing the work of someone they respect as a resource.

Now that you know the value of listening first, take it a step further. Here are three things you can do right now to build your social media presence:

  • Connect with your real world network online. Find out where your current and past clients and collaborators are online and create a profile on a network they use.
  • Follow profiles of companies and creators you admire. Then, find hashtags and online groups related to your work. Pay attention to what’s being shared and how it’s being shared.
  • Interact with your new follows and followers. Pay attention to what people are saying and add insights when you can. Before you know it, you’ll have an online community of your own.

Got a question? Have your own social media insights to share? Talk to MediaStorm on TwitterFacebook and the comment section below!

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