Dad’s Social Media Lessons That Will Improve Your Results

Dad's Social Media LessonsBefore sharing my dad’s social media lessons, I have to come clean.

My father never had a social media account.

Unless you count email, but there’s still a hitch because my parents shared an email address.

However, don’t let this minor fact stop you from learning from my dad.

While I may be prejudiced, my dad was a Mad Man era advertising executive and the publisher of a local Queens newspaper, The Leader-Observer.

You may be wondering:

Can Heidi’s dad help me improve my social media results?

Yes and here’s why:

My dad understood people and their media habits.

My dad’s knowledge, acquired through the use of traditional media,  applies to your social media marketing.

Because really knowing and appreciating your audience and the context in which they need, seek and consume your content and communications are key to social media success.


10 Of Dad’s Social Media Lessons

To improve your results put these 10 social media lessons from dad into action.

Dad's Social Media Lessons

Dad’s Social Media Lessons That Will Improve Your Results via


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   1. Know Your Audience

Talk to and find out about your readers’ hopes and dreams. To create information they actively seek and need, start by understanding what makes them tick.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Engage with the people who follow your firm and brand on social media. Ask followers how they found you and what type of information or help they’re seeking.

Alternatively, if you have owned media such as a blog or email list, use these to solicit feedback about readers’ social media habits.

Actionable Social Media Tip:

  • Create a social media persona. Beyond knowing which social media platforms your readers spend their time on, find out what type of information they want, when they want it, and how they want to consume it.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   2. Watch Your Competitors

While this advice may sound like it came straight out of The Godfather, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” My father subscribed to competitive newspapers and examined each issue to determine what they were doing that he could apply to his newspaper.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Watch what peers and major players in your category do on social media. Go deep! Examine the platforms they use, the type of content they share, and the level of interaction.

Understand their strategy to improve on it when you apply it to your business. Allen Gannett makes this point in The Creative Curve.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Follow your competitors and top companies in your category. Regularly read the content they share and examine the people who follow and engage with them.
  • Examine top social media experts regardless of specialty. See what they’re doing that sets them apart. Further, ask, “How can we apply this to our social media presence?”
  • Get help from appropriate tools. Make it easy to monitor and use social media by investing in tools such as CoSchedule, Hootsuite, Agorapulse, Brand24 and BuzzSumo.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   3. Make Friends With Thought Leaders

As a local publisher, my father spent time getting to know the politicians that represented his newspaper’s community. His editorial influenced voters and politicians bought advertising during election years.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Determine who influencers your potential audience. Go beyond high profile influencers. Micro-influencers may sway potential purchasers.

Then build relationships with them. Influencer marketing isn’t a game of tag. Follow and engage with influencers to learn more about them to ensure that their ideas are aligned with yours.

But there’s a catch: Don’t use influencer relationships to get them to do uncompensated work for you. Like you, their time is valuable and they’re busy.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Determine who’s important to associate with to grow your business. Beyond closing the next sale, include experts associated with your firm’s higher level, societal goals
  • Follow these influential people across social media platforms. Where appropriate comment on their content, share their communications, and engage with them.
  • Attend live events to meet them in person.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   4. Be Active In Your Community

A community is a group of people with shared interests and connections. Your business community extends beyond your employees, suppliers, distributors, and customers. Also, it includes people in your neighborhood.

For my father, being part of a larger community was a way to develop deeper relationships with his peers and help the neighborhood. He belonged the Rotary and Lion’s Club. Also, he supported the South Queens Boys and Girls Club.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Decide how your business defines its community. Ask: What are our values? What do we stand for as a business? And where do we find people who share our values?

Determine where your peeps spend their time. Do organizations or groups already exist? Are there conferences or other events that you should attend?

BUT don’t use these groups solely to extend content distribution. Your objective is to become part of the community!

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Join existing groups on social media. Include Facebook and LinkedIn as well as Reddit, Slack and others. Then contribute and participate to help others.
  • Participate in Facebook Live, Twitter Chats and other community-based discussions. Join the conversation regularly get to know other members. Where appropriate take conversations offline. #CMWorld is one of my favorites!

    Content Marketing Institute transforms weekly TwitterChat into content-#CMWorld

  • Build your own social media group as a forum for like-minded individuals. Build your community and actively participate. For example, BuzzSumo’s Susan Moeller started Women In Content.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   5. Take Advantage Of The Calendar

For editorial and advertising, my dad tapped into the power of annual content planning. Each month he selected a holiday or event as a hook.

Dad's social media lesson-Annual content planning

Annual Content Plan Based On Holidays Including Social Media Content – Graphic via

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Create a monthly theme for your social media content. Batch create and schedule social media shares to save time.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Schedule evergreen holiday content shares. Keep existing holiday content visible by share it annually.
  • Spruce up your social media presence for holidays or seasons. This shows fans that you’re active.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   6. Add Community Conversation To Regular Features

Local newspapers deliver community-focused information. At a minimum, local newspapers feature births, weddings and obits. Also, my dad focused on community events like school sports.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Use location as a hook to engage your social media audience. When he’s on the road, Peter Shankman gives a shout out on social media to meet followers in whatever city he’s going to.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Get your social media community engaged with a question. But the question must be relevant to your audience and easy to respond to.
  • Use social media to get input for content. Aaron Orendorff uses social media to ask people he knows a single question. When he needs more responses, he asks his social community for input. (BTW – Here’s how Orendorff does it. Hat tip: Nadya Khoja)

    Example of how Aaron Orendorff reaches out to influencers and others

Use social media to get input for content from your social media community like Aaron Orendorff. #contentmarketing #socialmedia @IconicontentClick To Tweet

Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   7. Mention People By Name

My dad’s editorial direction was to include people’s names wherever possible. Because people wanted to see their names in print. As a result, people read the newspaper to see if anyone they knew was mentioned.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Recognize members of your community with a shout out.

Get input from other people when you create content. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina put it best, “A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution!”

Graphic of why getting influencers involved in your content helps your social media reach via Andy Crestodina

A partner in content creation is a partner in content distribution! via @crestodina #contentmarketingClick To Tweet


Actionable Social Media Tips:


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   8. Include Photographs and Videos of People

Before digital cameras and smartphones, my dad took lots of photographs because you couldn’t go back in time to get another shot.

Watch a professional photographer and you’ll see that they take tons of images to cull a few good ones. Realize that our ability to easily capture the moment with our smartphones isn’t the problem.

Steve Dotto pointed out that storing photos in the cloud causes problems because you don’t delete bad images or categorize them for easy discoverability later.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Take lots of photographs and videos to get ones that work well for your needs.

Edit and tag photographs and videos. This aids search!

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Always include photographs or video in social media content to attract attention. Also optimize each photo or video for specific networks.
  • Get permission to share photos of people, especially children! Don’t assume people want their images shared on social media.
  • Ask your audience to contribute their photos and videos. But check that you have rights to use the images and give people credit for their work.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   9. Maximize Your Distribution

While my father considered the newspaper’s second-class mailing permit like gold, he supplemented it with other distribution methods to maximize his audience reach.

He hired Leader Boys to deliver the newspaper to people’s homes and sold single issues on newsstands.

For special issues, my father printed additional newspapers to sell to organizations or to use as promotional copies for future marketing.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Distribution takes work even if you have an owned audience such as email. Use a mix of distribution channels.

 Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Use multiple social media platforms to share content and communications. If my dad still ran his newspaper today, he’d tap into social media to reach his core audience where they spent time.
  • Extend your social media distribution over time. With news cycle changes, my dad would use social media to cover breaking news like local sports.
  • Use different presentations of the communications you share on social media. Avoid sending the same message over and over.


Dad’s Social Media Lessons:   10. Keep Track of Your Money

As an accountant by training my father kept an eagle eye on the newspaper’s books.

Here’s what this means for your social media:

Show results for your social media investment. While social media metrics can be difficult to track, offer information that buyers need at different points in their purchase process.

Actionable Social Media Tips:


Dad’s Social Media Lessons Conclusion

If my dad still ran the Leader-Observer today, he’d be excited about the opportunities to extend his content and community on social media to build relationships and revenue.

Before you get discouraged, understand that my father didn’t do everything in one day or one week. He did a little bit everyday so that over time he slowly developed relationships that helped to build the newspaper’s circulation and revenues.

The same holds true for your social media activity. You can’t do everything across all social media platforms or you won’t get anything else done.

Instead, be strategic by choosing the social media platforms, groups and features that will help you achieve your goals.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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