The good parenting guide to social media (and a free ebook)

by Lucy Thornton of Perfect Balance Marketing

the good parenting guide to social media, elly mackay, {image: when she held her child…print by elly mackay/ theaterclouds}

Being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever do (years of worry, never having a day off, endless responsibilities, sleepless nights) but it’s also the most rewarding.

Cuddles, unquestioning love, open smiles and fierce loyalty, the relationship with kids is priceless. They get us through the toughest challenges and the biggest trials and tribulations.

But did you know they can also teach us a lot about using social media for business?

Here are some parenting lessons that can also be applied to developing a social media strategy that helps your business develop priceless online relationships.

lucy thornton, perfect balance marketing, the good parents guide to social media

1. Nurturing

Caring for a baby can be pretty daunting – when I had my little boy, the very first time I was alone with him in my hospital room, I was scared – terrified if I’m honest. This tiny little fragile thing was relying on me to care for him and keep him alive.

But what did I know? I’d read a few magazines but they all contradicted each other and I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do first.

I had no choice but to jump right in, and start being mummy. I learned how best to get him to settle when it was nap time, I got to know the signs that he was starting to get hungry or tired or bored. And gradually I got pretty good at this whole parenting thing.

Look at social media in the same way – you could watch from the sidelines and read about it for weeks, even months, but until you start using it for yourself you won’t really understand how it works or the rewards you get from doing it well.

lucy thornton, perfect balance marketing, the good parents guide to social media

2. Responding

Journeys in the car with my 3-year-old are always fun, with no shortage of questions from the back seat about why space is “all the way up there?” (points up to the sky), why some cars are red, and what foxes eat.

And each time, I take a moment to think of an interesting answer (“I don’t know” isn’t an option) and then deliver some pearls of wisdom about the universe, car manufacturers and the diet of nocturnal mammals.

Engaging is the best way to build a relationship in the real world – but also in the online world of social networks. As soon as you set-up a Twitter account, Facebook page, or blog, your target audience sees it as a communication route to you.

Expect questions about your products, delivery times, availability, your creative process – and be ready to answer honestly and openly (even if they are about foxes, cars, the universe and everything in between).

lucy thornton, perfect balance marketing, the good parents guide to social media

3. Being creative

Anyone who’s been stuck indoors on a wet weekend with young children will realise that sitting staring at each other doing nothing isn’t much fun for anyone, least of all you.

You’d both have far more fun if you planned a few activities, got the finger paints out, built a Lego tower, or made some play dough.

Think the same way about social media.

Keep your readers and followers engaged with fresh web content – ask questions, encourage them to upload their own content, share links to resources, offer tips and tricks – reward them for taking the time for visit your page.

lucy thornton, perfect balance marketing, the good parents guide to social media

4. Making them laugh

My little boy is probably the most photographed child in the world – fact. One of my favourite photos of him is where he’s aged one, laughing his head off at a stuffed blue and purple frog that his auntie bought him from the zoo.

The reason I love that photo is because he was teething at the time and was pretty grumpy, but the joy in his face, with those little pink cheeks, is adorable.

Having a sense of humour makes us all human, and can be a great way of putting people at ease, even in the virtual world.

Online, humour can also be fantastic at getting your message to go viral – if it makes your audience smile, they may forward it on to their friends, who forward it to their friends, and in no time your message has gone viral.

lucy thornton, perfect balance marketing, the good parents guide to social media

5. Tailoring your message

We live fairly close to a railway line so can hear the dull thud of trains as they go by, which has never been a problem.

They’ve always been there, since my little one was born, and he’s never even noticed, but at the beginning of the year he started getting really upset when the last train went through in the evening.

My hubby and I explained that the train was nothing to worry about, that it was just taking people up and down the line, and that he was perfectly safe in his room. But he remained unconvinced.

The next night, my husband took a different approach – he explained that the boy and girl trains travelled along the line all day, and that the mummy train went along the tracks at the end of the day to tuck them in to sleep at the station, ready for the next day.

Since then, my poppet hasn’t been bothered by the trains.

The lesson? When choosing your message, consider your audience. Use their language, relate to their world, and the message is more likely to hit the mark.

What life lessons can you apply to using social media for business? Share them in the comments below.

PS And don’t be afraid of getting it wrong – if you need a bit of encouragement, find a blue and purple frog and in no time, you’ll be laughing so hard that you’ll have forgotten what you were worrying about.

PPS And as a special treat for reading until the end, here’s a little something to thank you – a free copy of my latest ebook Blogging for Business. Click to download. Gold stars and treats also go down well in social networks ;o)

7 comments

  1. Iuliana says:

    It awesome that your were able to identify these parenting actions to begin with, and then relate them to how we should “take care” of our social media. I am a new follower and just love, love everything on here. I sometimes wonder if I should even bother to work on my blog, as there are sooo many of you awesome and creative people out there. What else could I add?

  2. Welcome Juliana and great to have another wonderful OMHG friend.

    Of course you should work on your blog! You know your business and your customers better than anyone so you’re best placed to give them what they want.

    Any questions just email me – enjoy blogging, Lucy

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