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Posted April 5, 2011

Considering jumping into social media?


Some of our clients are just beginning to warm up to social media. They often ask us whether they need to be in both Facebook and Twitter, and exactly what they should do there. Good questions! For most of our clients — especially those in professional areas — we recommend starting with Twitter. Put simply, it’s a great place to listen and to occasionally be heard.

Jell can’t claim to be a Twitter pioneer, but we’ve been there long enough to offer some strong advice. Our perspective: approach Twitter as you would approach branding. Move cautiously and thoughtfully. Ask yourself some basic questions. Which media or industry opinions do you value most? Who are your target audiences? What are you actually trying to achieve? Once you establish your position, style, and goals, stick to them and stay consistent.

No need to begin tweeting the minute you join Twitter: be a consumer first. Sit back and listen before jumping in. Check your reactions. Which feeds do you like? Which annoy you? Do you prefer facts or opinions? Insights or questions? Listening is a very important part of communicating in any media, and can help you find a unique voice that will actually matter to your stakeholders.

Jell’s first step was to build a community of peers. Who did we find inspiring? Influential? Thought-provoking? Many of our very first follows were establishment feeds like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. We wanted to see how larger institutions presented themselves. We later added more individual or idiosyncratic voices that excited or energized us. The feeds we follow encourage dialogue and fuel conversations both inside Jell and with our clients. A select sampling includes:

  • Tech Crunch (@TechCrunch) and Smashing Magazine (@SmashingMag), which keep us up to date on timely tech news and web breakthroughs;
  • A group of individual developers, designers, and communicators including web standards guru Jeffrey Zeldman (@Zeldman), design historian Steven Heller (@TheDailyHeller), author Allison Fine (@AFine), and journalist David Murray (@TheMurr). Following these accounts allows us to keep the conversation going among like-minded professionals in our field;
  • Philanthropy (@Philanthropy), which consistently provides us with up-to-date philanthropic and non-profit bulletins as well as recommendations for engaging audiences and funders; and
  • Good (@Good) and The 99% (@99U), which provide notable insights and opinion-based articles, keeping us afloat of what’s new across the globe in design, culture, and community-building.

Twitter also helps us track many of our clients, including Grant Park Music Festival (@GPMF), Free Spirit Media (@FSMTweets), Safer Foundation (@SaferFoundation), Harris Theater (@HarrisTheater), and the Greater Chicago Food Depository (@FoodDepository). The conversation now goes both ways — we share ideas and innovations in the field with our clients, who in turn keep us informed of their progress and new discoveries.

Our social media team aims to continually build support and broaden our reach. To maintain visibility in this ever-changing community, it is crucial to stay active. This office is a very busy place, but because we set a strategy early on — developed a tone, a series of weekly themes, and pulled together a dedicated internal support system — sticking to our calendar and keeping tweets consistent lets us focus on maintaining the quality of our content.

Twitter makes it easy to stay connected with our clients and the design and tech communities at large. If you’re interested in learning more about Jell’s social media experience and approach, or want to work with us to create your own strategic Twitter plan, contact us. Once you’re ready to get started, follow us on Twitter at @JellCreative!

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