(The text is not a verbatim transcript but slightly edited for the written word. No content was harmed in the editing.)
Welcome to Episode 5 of 3 Questions About Social Media with William Buist, business mentor and founder of First Friday, the business networking meeting he has organised for over a decade.
William, what is the most effective and impactful social media platform that you are using for your business?
I use three, Max, and thank you for inviting me to take part in this.
I use Facebook mostly to talk to my close network; people that I know well; people that know me well, my clients some of them and my friends and family.
I use LinkedIn as a way of reaching out to a wider network of business people.
And I use Twitter for more social conversation; short, sharper interventions in debates, in conversations, and just keeping up with what’s going on.
And what type of posts do you publish? Is it images? Just text? Video? Or whatever.
A little bit of all three. The majority of what I do is text based. I’m a writer, I enjoy writing. I like to do my thinking while I’m writing. So some of what I post is thought pieces that are well thought through; others are where I’m at the beginning of the thinking and just post an idea to let people comment on it.
I’m a bit of an amateur photographer, so I post some images, again just to share what I’m up to.
And occasionally some video; what I’m thinking about, you know, conversations like this one with other people. Or sometimes a monologue to camera where I’m just sharing some views and thinking about those things. But videos a small part at the moment. I want to make it a bigger part but that’s for the future.
Why is it still a small part? Obviously, I have to ask these questions.
I understand that. I think there is two things.
It’s partly my lack of familiarity with the equipment but I am becoming familiar with it over time, just because I’m doing some. That has helped to get there.
And the second thing is editing and those kinds of things where I don’t feel comfortable that I’m that good at it. It’s not my skill. And so, you know, I’m looking for some help and advice and guidance around that, I guess.
I think I might know somewhere where you can find more information. Just for our viewers who may also think about creating videos: what camera do you use?
I use my iPhone. I have an iPhone X, which has a great camera. But I also have a Canon DSLR, which does video, too.
If I’m doing video in the office then I tend to use the Canon, but if I’m just out and about and have an idea that I want to capture, then I use the iPhone.
OK. We are shooting this whole series now on my Samsung Galaxy S7, so you don’t need to have a very sophisticated, professional camera. The smartphone today is now more than enough. But enough about technology, we want to go back to social media.
What are your 3 top tips for people who want to use or want to be more prolific on social media?
I think the first is not to sweat it, you know. If you have a thought or an idea, something to share, just get it out there. And don’t worry about what people will think of it. Some people will think it’s great, some people will think it’s not. And that’s true however good you are. It’ll always be true. Just get some thoughts out there and invite other people to join in a conversation.
The second thing is to be conversational. Try to engage not in a lot of statements or thoughts that are closed but to invite comment and invite questions and ask questions about what people are thinking.
Would any particular platform be more conducive to conversations than others, or do you find they are all equally responsive?
I think they are all different. Twitter is a very short form. You can’t write a long essay on Twitter, it’s 280 characters. Actually, I preferred it when it was 140, to be honest. That brevity is really important. So you have a chance there just to ask a question, or just to make a very brief statement of what you think.
LinkedIn lets you do a bit more, write a longer piece. And there, I think, you need to take a little bit more time to think about who are you writing it for and what do you want them to do when they read it. If you can answer this question, you know, when somebody reads this: I want them to look at my website, I want them to post a reply, I want them to ask me a question. If you know which of those it is, you will write in a way that achieves that.
Facebook, I think, is much of a mixture between the two; some long form, some short. But always with a view of: What do I want my reader to do? And then designing the post or the picture accordingly.
Can I give you an example? I posted this morning when I was coming up to London on the train. The Sun was rising. It was just beautiful. So I just took a picture of it out of the train window; those reflections of the lights in the carriage. It’s not a good picture but you get a flavour of it, and I just posted with the comment: Sometimes travelling is a joy. And that’s had a lot of likes today, not many comments, but all I wanted was people to share a bit of the enjoyment I had at the sunrise this morning. That was it.
Absolutely. I posted a picture of a tree trunk in Hyde Park the other day, which was wonderful. But what comes across to me primarily is also that you are not really posting for the sake of it: I want to say this, therefore I want to say it but, really, you want to talk to the person, to the person who is reading it rather than just wanting to say something. I want to have a conversation so I formulate it always with the other person in mind.
Absolutely. You know, I use social media because I run a business, because I want to attract people who are looking for a business mentor whom I can help. That’s why I do it. But I can’t do that just by selling that service. Yes. People have to know me and know that; they’ll either like me or they don’t. And if they like me they’ll start to have a conversation. So why don’t we start that conversation in a very gentle way by commenting on a post or that kind of thing? It’s not about selling. This is about getting to know people, being a friend and being somebody whom they can trust. And that’s what I use social media for.
And finally, the bonus question, which is largely far our viewers: If people want to get in touch with you through social media, for instance, what is the best way to contact you?
The real advantage of having an unusual name is that if you look me up you will find me. It’s William BUIST. Just google that. You’ll find my stuff at the top of the list. Get in touch, give me a call. The number is published widely. Drop me an email at william (at) williambuist.com or on any of the social media sites. Join in the conversation, I’d love to talk to you.
William, thank you very much for your time.
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