• Chicks offer navigation tools

    Social Chicks are the newest to join The TIMES stable of local columnists addressing issues that matter in town

    By Vicki McLeod, The Times April 19, 2012

    From Facebook to Pinterest to Twitter to Google Plus, social media is changing the way we communicate, connect, and interact.

    That’s why three local marketing and communications specialists got together and created the Social Chicks. Our aim is to help people navigate the ever-changing social media landscape.

    As social media savvy entrepreneurs running businesses, having myriad obligations, family commitments and interests, Lori Graham of Six Degrees Marketing, communications consultant Rebecca Vaughan, and I grew very curious about the many ways social media plays out in people’s professional and personal lives.

    What we noticed is that people approach social media from vastly different perspectives – trepidation, excitement, resistance – depending on their experience and comfort level with online tools, preferences for privacy, or available time and resources.

    We want to help people clarify the “why” of social media, and how it applies to a business, organization, cause, or personal interest group.

    And we want to point out ways that social media can be used mindfully, so that it supports and nourishes our work and lives, rather than becoming a pointless online time-waster.

    In this column we hope to answer the question: Social media for the sake of what?

    Social media has brought about a dramatic shift in the way we communicate, build community and market our businesses and ourselves.

    We’ve moved from a “broadcast” model of getting the message out to a “social” model, meaning we are engaged in dialogue, seeking feedback, and reaching new audiences that we simply didn’t have access to via traditional channels.

    Social media brings with it a spirit of collaboration, a high level of transparency and a real-time sense of urgency that requires agile responsiveness.

    As seasoned communicators, the Social Chicks believe in the power of social media, not just as a platform for promoting goods and services – although its been almost revolutionary in creating a shift in traditional marketing approaches – but also for its potential to transform community and personal engagement, to build networks of common interest, and to create positive change.

    From our point of view, the most fundamental aspect of social media is inherent in the name – it’s social.

    It is about relationships, and as cutting edge as it appears to be, at heart it is good old-fashioned relationship building that is the cornerstone of successful social media.

    The same rules apply to social media as apply to nearly any other positive relationship. Listen first, engage authentically, be polite and respectful, and give credit where credit is due.

    Like any culture, social media has its own etiquettes, norms, and behaviours. These are easily learned and support and help abounds online and off.

    Social media offers an unparalleled opportunity to communicate about who you are, what you care about, and what you have to offer to the world. Facebook alone has 794,564,900 million users and is growing every day.

    Each month, this column will offer tips, resources, and insights into the world of ever-shifting social media platforms.

    We hope to answer your burning questions and we’d love to hear from you – visit our site at: www.thesocialchicks.com where we’ll post these columns and you can offer comments or suggestions on the topics we cover.

    The Social Chicks are social and you will find us at community events, working with local agencies and businesses, and hosting monthly information sessions for the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

    We’ll be introducing the series on Thursday, April 26, when the chamber hosts a presentation on web optimization at West Coast Ford Lincoln at 5: 30 pm. Tickets available at the chamber.

    The first Social Chicks workshop launches on Thursday, May 24.

    You can also get social and ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @thesocialchicks.

    Vicki McLeod – a seasoned writer, facilitator, and mentor – is no spring chicken when it comes to strategic communications, public engagement, and marketing, with more than 20 years experience. She is also a self-proclaimed Farmville addict!

    Vicki McLeod is owner of Main Street Communications Ltd. and the chief cook at the freshly launched Dishing in the Kitchen and is happy to answer questions. Send them to her through either her Page or website.
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