How to Put the Social Back in Social Media

GenY girls

@ACA_TS2015 is over but the learnings continue. Last week, we had our ear to the ground to discover not only what interests camp folks in general, but also what’s new in the industry that we’d want to share.

It turns out that what’s NEW is really not new at all.

Just one of the helpful tips author Blake Sunshine, summer camp social media consultant, shared in her Tri-state session last week (What’s Hot in Social Media) was the “new trend” of sharing moments. It was a good reminder that businesses attempting to leverage social media solely for business purposes can easily forget that social media is—first and foremost—SOCIAL.

The Problem with Leveraging

I think the problem starts when we use words like “leverage”. (We’re guilty of it, too!) Leverage doesn’t simply mean “to use,” it means “to use for gain.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. To gain almost anything, you have to use some sort of resource or strategy. Even purely social use of social media has a payback in terms of meeting emotional needs of status or connectivity.

The problem is that “leverage,” as most of us use it, is a business concept, which engages one part of your brain. Social interaction engages a different part of your brain. Think about it: how easy is it to ponder love and legal issues at the same time?

It’s a Brain Matter

Directing a camp involves that same struggle between business and love. All camp directors wrestle with balancing their original love of kids, camp, and the focus of their camp (sports, outdoors, etc.) with the business side. From a purely time perspective, the business side often wins. So then, when social media as a business strategy is enacted from the business portion of your brain, engagement can be as stilted as trying to carry on a conversation in Mexico while referring to an English-Spanish dictionary.

That begs the question, how should businesses use social media, then?

Focus on Sharing Moments

Oscars 2014 group selfie

Sharing moments is less about information exchange and more about capturing special or fun times. And it really is about moments. The trees, not the forest. As you might suspect, it’s primarily visual; intellectual commentary optional.

Think about all the group selfie shots you see in cell phone advertising today. The marketers are demonstrating users’ desire to capture a moment (and how the ubiquitous smartphone makes it happen). Often, there’s nothing particularly eventful happening, just friends hanging out and wanting to document it. Ellen Degeneres’s famous group selfie at the 2014 Oscars actually created the shareable moment itself–and became the most-shared selfie ever.

If you find sharing moments to be a challenge, the real question may be: Are you having fun anymore?

Ditch the Playbook

Social_Media_Playbook_CampsNot really! We offer a really valuable resource, The Social Media Playbook, which gives a comprehensive overview of many platforms, how to get started, and tips for making the most of each one. (Get one here).

Knowledge is power, as they say. However, if you tend toward a paint-by-numbers tactic for social media and it doesn’t seem to be working, maybe it’s time to add a different angle: Put the social back in social media.

Click to tweet.Social media


I’m encouraging you to seize the moment so I don’t want to script that for you. Just know that sharing moments is best expressed by being:

  • Brief

Statistics show that the most shared posts are short: For Twitter, that’s 100 characters, which allows room for retweeters to add something. For Facebook, 40 characters produces 86% higher engagement! (Source: Fast Company)

  • Not Business-Promotional

Rallyverse recommends a content ratio of 30% your own stuff, 60% curated (because you don’t want to just talk about yourself) and 10% promotional content. It’s easier to fill that 90% allotment with shared moments than with business content, and they don’t all have to be YOUR moments.

  • Visual

The fastest growing sites are VISUAL. Instagram just recently overtook Twitter in popularity. (Source: DailyMail). People are visual. LeverageEngage with that!

Even if you’re not ready to branch out from Facebook and Twitter, include images and videos on those platforms! And check out Vine – the six-second video platform. It’s for catching just a snippet and sharing it. You could even say it’s perfect when you don’t have anything to say but need to connect anyway. (If you haven’t discovered Vine, get your elementary-age child to introduce you.)

And speaking of kids…

Think like a Child

Sometimes when people say that, they mean simplistically, or innocently. In this case, we mean social-media-savvy. A fun way to see what we mean can be found in the movie Chef,* where a chef is introduced to social media by his young son. After creating a media and career disaster, the man is forced to shift gears. They take the ride of their lives in a food truck, engaging people from Florida all the way to California through the son’s social media acumen. It’s Hollywood, so results may not be typical, but it can be an interesting tutorial on a sharing-moments-approach to social media.

Need More Fun in Your Life?

Hopefully, this idea of sharing moments puts less pressure—not more—on your social media strategy. The second upside (after increased engagement) is that taking the time to share moments will require you to be more in the moment, more aware of the enjoyment that is possible even in the midst of business. You’ll automatically have and create more fun.



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About Gina Calvert

Gina Calvert is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, camps, schools and endurance events, for more than six years.