Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Friday, September 10, 2010

Social Media - Using the Tools to Grow the Community

If you're a social media "enthusiast," (in other words, you likely don't make your living from social media), you've probably faced one of the most common questions of the curious, "Yeah, but can you make money with it?"

In a field full of pundits, how-to books, and a world of a bad economy, social media is too often presented as part of a modern gold rush - a quick and easy way to make a living - today's "get rich quick" gimmick.

Even my favorite social media book, "Crush It," by Gary Vaynerchuk, is accompanied by the unfortunate subtitle, "Why Now is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion."  In fact, I very nearly passed on the book because of the usually misleading words, Cash In.  As it turned out, one of the lessons of that particular book was that social media isn't a "thing" - it's a strategy.

You don't benefit from social media in and of itself.  You benefit from applying social media strategies to achieve your particular goals and ambitions.   If you don't know what your ambitions are, or if you don't have a clear image of who you are as an individual, it will be very difficult to find a "productive" purpose for social media.    Social media is simultaneously a tool and a means of self expression.  I think that's an exciting convergence; it also presents an entirely new challenge that changes and evolves from person to person and cause to cause.

The legions of the curious, though, still far outnumber active users.  YouTube viewers far outnumber active members of the community that comments and interacts (which, in turn, is much larger than the active YouTube content creators).  Most people, I think, are dabblers in social media.

Case in Point:

Last week, there was a fundraiser for UNICEF, hosted by a couple of top British YouTubers, including Charlie McDonnell (known on YouTube as Charlieissocoollike).  The numbers that viewed the 24-hour live streaming show were underwhelming by mainstream media standards (10,000 - 20,000 at any given time) though the funds raised wasn't bad given the viewers (about 20,000 pounds - twice their stated goal).  The program was promoted by a number of noted YouTubers on their channels, each of whom contributed shot videos that played at various times throughout the show.  The show itself consisted of the two YouTubers, talking, answering questions, interviewing guests, and performing various audience challenges...etc. - you get the idea.  Even with it's modest success, it seems to me that the numbers should have been much higher, considering the aggregate subscribers of all of the YouTubers involved.

To both social media and traditional media readers, I pose a question:  Using social media tools or traditional media approaches, how would you have embarked on this sort of campaign to create a wider appeal to the YouTube community and beyond?

If you happen to see any of this show, I'd also be curious about your reaction.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, you've hit on a topic I've been thinking and talking about in relation to my consulting work with nonprofits, and you've got it exactly right.

    With organizations and other consultants who keep wondering "How do I raise money by tweeting?" I keep getting blank expressions when I say, "You don't. You tweet (and blog etc.) to communicate, be transparent, and build relationships that will lead to donations." It's part of the overall strategy.

    Meanwhile, on a smaller scale that Charlie's UNICEF fundraiser, a local musician and YouTuber, Kevy Nova, just did a 24-hour guitar-a-thon to fight cancer. No big publicity, no marketing campaign, no organization backing him (although donations went to ACS), just Kevy setting up his rack of guitars and his MacBook at a diner and starting a U-Stream webcast.

    He raised nearly $6,500 on his own, through cash donations at the diner and online donations from the webcast. I know many "well-planned" fundraising events, with lots of people working on them, that didn't net that high.

    It's been said before, but this changes everything. If you just let it.