Facebook reported 1.86 billion active monthly users at the end of 2016. About 300 million people find their way to Twitter monthly, and Instagram reports that 800 million people active every month.
Clearly, social media is an important tool for communication today, and a newly launched Social Media Club of Topeka, #SMCTopeka, is bringing together everyone from entrepreneurs to marketing professionals and students to learn about best practices for using those online tools. The club is part of a national association that operates through local chapters. Founders Laura Burton and Martie Rison were attending social media clubs in Lawrence and Kansas City when they decided Topeka need its own option.
“So many people either work for a business or they own a small business, and they just need to learn how to better manage their social media and get more results from it,” said Rison, who works as marketing coordinator for Mize Houser & Co. PA. “And those of us who work for an organization really wanted to understand the analytics and what opportunities we have with social media.”
The group draws experience and expertise from its members, and the ability to access information from others is Burton’s favorite part.
“You have a lot of brains in the room. You can present a problem and somebody can say, ‘Did you know about this feature that solves your problem?'” she said.
During the February meeting last week Burton led the group in talking about using Facebook Live. She shared her experiences starting a weekly Facebook Live event at Midland Care, where she worked in communications until recently. Many people in the room have used the tool in varying ways.
The topic drew in Mike Carmona, of Carmona Comfort Air in Topeka, who said his business plans to use Facebook Live during the 2018 Topeka Home Show March 9 – 11.
“We currently are looking into social media marketing for our business,” he said. “Everything’s geared more for social media, selling, getting your name out there.”
Attendees shared tips along with horror stories about what has gone wrong for them whilie filming live on Facebook. Burton said using Facebook Live in Midland Care posts significantly impacted traffic when she started in 2016. In June and July 2016, the organization’s FB posts reached around 400 people. But when she started FB Live in August, that reach jumped to nearly 1,100 people.
She also noted that Live videos with captions tend to receive a lot more views. It can be a time-consuming process if you do it yourself, Burton said, but using the captioning tools available on FB can be difficult because they don’t always pick out the right word. Burton drew laughter when she said Midland Care’s videos forced her to constantly change “pallet of” to “palliative.”
It’s those kinds of tips and tricks that inspired people to join and share their experiences in a social media club.
“We have a lot of people who work in creative fields that could use this as a resource because technology and social media are changing so rapidly,” said Martinez Hillard, a creative strategist for the Bajillion Agency.”You have fellow creatives that are able to share information, dissect some of what we’re seeing as these changes occur to help elevate all of the work that we do here in the community.”
Social media can be challenging to use effectively, he said.
“I think it’s really easy for people to think that because you have access to so many tools and resources through social media and through our smart phones that ‘Oh yeah, this should be a piece of cake,'” he said. “But when you see the numbers reflect otherwise, then you have to think more strategically about where you place your content, the quality of your content, the timing, all of those things are huge factors. It reveals itself really quickly.”
The group meets monthly at 712 Innovations and information about upcoming meetings is on its Facebook page.