24 secrets to thriving on social media from Maine’s viral hitmakers

Next week, I’m joining five other social media experts representing “The Duck of Justice”, “BangOR not BangER”, Darling’s Marketing, The Thing of the Moment on a panel at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. To prepare for the event, we asked them to share how they get the most out of social media.

For keeping social media from being a total time suck:

1. You don’t have to use all the things.

There are many different types of social media these days so it’s hard not to feel guilty about not being everywhere or stressed trying to use them all.

Cary WestonMy best advice is, whatever you do, do it with purpose, consistency and with an eye towards a goal. The more organized you are in your approach, the more effective it will be. Better to have one or two mediums that get used with purpose than being scattered and inconsistent on many. — Cary Weston, Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications

2. Fake it.

Pattie Reaves

I use a tool called Buffer, which lets you schedule posts at intervals your followers are most likely to be online. You can do all your post writing at once, but they will be spread out over time, looking like you were on social media all day. — Pattie Reaves, User Experience and Audience Manager, BDN Maine 

3. Use a plugin to focus your time.

Adam OsborneAs a user, I had a Chrome plugin for a while called “StayFocusd.” It limits the amount of time you can spend at any given website – either by so-many-hours per day, or by enabling access in a set time frame (ie, lunch hour). — Adam Osborne, Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications

4. Avoid all the fun things. 

The Duck of JusticeAvoid photos of drinks, your feet in a beach background shot, dogs, cats and kids. — Tim Cotton, Public Information Officer, Bangor Police Department (and creator of the Duck of Justice)


5. Make something.

Jeff KirlinI don’t think it’s possible to keep it from being a time suck, so make that productive time suck. Add something. Create something, provide feedback, choose a cause to support, learn something new. TV? *THAT* is a REAL time suck. — Jeff Kirlin, The Thing of the Moment

6. Prioritize. 

imageAny type of marketing can end up taking way more time than it needs to if you don’t prioritize. You have to find the right balance that helps you achieve your goals. If social media is a big part of your strategy then it should occupy a lot of your time. — Matt Smith, Marketing, Darling’s Auto


Why using social media to market your business is awesome:

7. It’s where your customers are.

 In a world of growing insincerity and commercial fabrication, customers are relying on reviews, comments and recommendations from folks they know and trust to help them make decisions. Social media has broken down the barrier and control that companies once had on public messaging and put the power in the hands of consumers. — Cary Weston 

8. It’s fun.

Social media creates interest and traffic in your business. Make it interesting. Introduce your employees to your customers, and make it a fun site to check out. Unusual posts will bring people back. — Tim Cotton

9. You’ll make better products.

Social media is how to get in front of your customers where they are. Even better, it’s a great way to hear from your best customers why they love your product and how it can be better. — Pattie Reaves

10. It’s effective.

Marketing is about telling your story, building a narrative and driving traffic. There is no medium that is as effective as social media at the first two. — Matt Smith

11. It’s a community management tool.

Traditional marketing has always been a one-way street. You spend a buck to stand in the line for the soap box, and hope that the right person hears your message (or that the last guy didn’t scare them away). It can make you feel like you have to keep your dispatch to a bare bones, no-mucking-about sales pitch. No one enjoys being sold to.

 However, if you have a story to tell, the opportunity for engagement is far greater on social. Give folks something to talk about, not a photo album of your sales flyers. — Adam Osborne


Social media makes you better at being able to …

12. Respond, react and connect.

Cary Weston


13. Protect the public.

Be better police. Reach people who are interested in knowing more as well as see the people who threaten to kill us when their privacy settings are incorrectly left wide open. — Tim Cotton

14. Network, network, network.

Before being involved in social media I knew a handful of people in the city of Bangor. Now I know thousands and still only rarely leave my apartment. — Jeff Kirlin

15. Get your work out there

… on a scale that would have been difficult, if not impossible, before. — Pattie Reaves

16. Be a better citizen.

Spread the word about the many deserving organizations and community groups that we partner with. That, in turn, helps to tell our story, which is about giving back and working together to make this a better place to live, work and raise a family. — Matt Smith 

17. Target the message to the audience.

For example, Nickelback is coming to the waterfront this weekend, and you’ve cleverly adapted a stanza from “Photograph” to promote your BOGO sale.*** Boost your post for people who have “liked” Nickelback, and you’re connecting directly with the folks who care to hear it.

*** For educational purposes only. Stay far, far, far away from pro-Nickelback messages. — Adam Osborne


The biggest misconception about social media is …

18. A toss up between “build it, and they will come” and “it’s free.”

Much like running a business, social media takes focus, strategy, humility, consistency and purpose to reap rewards. — Cary Weston

19. That it is not useful.

Also, that it is a waste of time, as it saves us both time and money. — Tim Cotton

20. That you need to embrace it all.

There are so many platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram — that I think it would be difficult to do them all. Despite the hipster millennial prediction of the death of Facebook, it’s not going to happen until the replacement is born. — Jeff Kirlin

21. That only kids use it.

More than half of adults over 65 use Facebook regularly, according to the latest Pew numbers. — Pattie Reaves

22. That it’s scary and complicated.  

It doesn’t have to be either of those things. It’s a great sandbox for experimentation and a fantastic avenue for feedback, both positive and negative. We’ve been fortunate to receive mostly positive feedback via social media, but when there is a problem, we appreciate the opportunity to make it right.

23. That everything and anything should be a hashtag. It should not. 

A hashtag is a way to start or join a conversation. 

#TheKeynotePowerPanelAtTheBangorRegionChamberOfCommerceBusinessExpo2015 is not an economical hashtag. That’s more than half of a tweet.

#CouldntFindMatchingSocksThisMorning makes no sense either, as it’s highly unlikely that anyone else is going to join this conversation.

Keep it short, sweet and broad, like #BRCCExpo. It’s clear and doesn’t encroach on a character count, which encourages folks to take part in a discussion. — Aaron Osborne


Finally, social media gives us secret powers, like …


24. The ability to find humor in anything.

Even the most dreadful situations can contain a small spot of humor. I can find it and focus on it later, which takes much stress out of an otherwise horrendous moment in time. — Tim Cotton

…. and *bonus*?

*Holds up phone.*

Siri, search the web for “How to create lens flares in Final Cut Pro.” 

*Watches YouTube tutorial made by 13-year-old.*

*Continues avoiding student loans.*

—Adam Osborne

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For more tips on how to exceed normal results in social media, join Cary Weston and a panel of five power users representing “The Duck of Justice”, “BangOR not BangER”, Darling’s Marketing, The Thing of the Moment and BDN Maine on Thursday, May 21 at the Bangor Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo. Visit their site for more information and to RSVP.