Let the Colorado River be your Social Media Guide

One of the most frustrating things that I see from both event producers and associations is a lack of planning and follow through when it comes to social media. They expect it to be a panacea that will open the flood gates to new members and attendees and when it does not happen in a week they give up and let their accounts go stagnant or they spend their social media capital telling me where they went last night or about the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. This leads to a great deal of frustration from the very people that they are trying to reach and can cause the whole thing to fall apart.

I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed this train wreck, it happens daily and what a loss for everyone involved. Social Media has created an enviroment where a conference can now be a year round affair and where associations are no longer limited to their once a month email newsletter. Both now have a pipeline directly to my desktop and so many times, they fail to take advantage of this direct link to my brain and my heart.

The worst thing about not taking advantage of the opening your audience gives you is that the void is going to be filled by someone and that someone could be an entity that is looking to destroy you by making me a part of their tribe, their group and stealing my affections and my loyalty. This is happening right now with one of our Industry Events which will remain nameless, but if you poke around you can figure it out.

How can organizations combat this? How can they win the war for hearts and minds and create a bond so strong that it cannot be broken? The answer is remarkably simple, act like the Colorado River.

WHAT? Act like a river and you will win the battle for social media supremacy in your space? How is that possible, how can that be, how can something that sounds so stupid and so moronic actually help you get ahead? Well, let me tell you about the Colorado River first and then you can tell me if I am crazy because a river has a story to tell and this one is never ending.

The Colorado River has its headwaters in the Rocky Mountain National Forest, this is where it all begins. From this starting point, the mighty Colorado cuts its way across the Western United States and has done so for thousands of years. In doing so, the river has changed the landscape, allowed civilization to thrive and has become a fixture and an icon, all through the River’s methodical wish to always move forward as water will do. The river does not sleep, it does not stop and it is always, always moving toward the horizon.

Over the millennia, the Colorado has formed canyons, fed tributaries, become home to thousands of species and grown stronger by relying on other rivers, streams, and creeks that feed into it. Always a desire to continue, always a desire to share some of itself to feed others and always a desire to grow.

Every so often, the rains come to the Southwest and flood the region with raging downpours causing the mighty Colorado to swell to the point of overflowing its banks and washing away the past year’s silt and debris that has clogged it up. These annual events bring renewed life to the river and actually allow the animals and plants that rely on her the opportunity to thrive and grow stronger. The river is not unto itself, it affects all that come in contact with it whether plant ,animal or mineral, all have come to need the river to survive and the river, in turn, relies on them to thrive.

This is where the Colorado can teach you how to win at Social Media, how to survive and last and make all that come in contact with you stronger, healthier and wiser. Let’s have a look.

Social Media, like the great Colorado, should be a constant flow. Information should always be moving to and fro on a consistent basis and should never stop. Perhaps you tweet, update your facebook page or interact with a LinkedIn group once an hour, once a day or once a week, the trick is to be consistent and always moving forward, never stop. Yes, droughts will come but if you have built a strong foundation, no one will notice a day without an update.

Don’t rely on yourself and only yourself. The Colorado grows because of all of the other rivers and streams that flow into it and your Social Media should do the same. Use others to fuel your growth. Visit the pages of people that follow you and follow their followers, visit their blogs and make comments, re-tweet information that you find useful and post links to their pages on facebook or LinkedIn. Just like the Colorado, you can become a force of nature by combining and sharing the assets of others.

Your social media should also be affected by the yearly monsoon season. As you approach your annual conference, event or membership drive, you can occasionally flood the canyon, increase the interaction, have more calls to action and a greater flow of information. Careful, though, just like the river, too much of a flood can be a bad thing and end up destroying what you have worked so hard to build.

Carve your canyon and stay the course. The Colorado has a path to follow and that is what it does, yes it may sometimes stray from the path, but it always returns to the same course and you should do the same. If your event is about semiconductors you should talk about the semiconductor industry, if your association is geared for the owners of German Shepards, you should talk about German Shepards. Yes, you might occasionally talk about a Bulldog, Lab or Boxer but you should always return to your path.

Feed and support those that rely on you. Just like the river, many people will come to rely on you, don’t let them down and show support for what they are doing, they, in turn will do the same for you and that is how acting like the great Colorado River can help you succeed at Social Media.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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