Social Media 101

by Lynda Kavanagh


Did you know that in 1954 when the dial telephone came into existence, the originators did a 9.5-minute-long movie that was shown at all movie theatres?

Why? Because people were so afraid of the new technology they weren’t sure how to move from the operator-assisted telephone to the dial-up. If you don’t believe me, you can see this mini-movie on YouTube — search for “1954 How to dial your phone by Bell Systems.”  It will make you laugh when you see the explanation of how to use a dial telephone.


For people not comfortable with technology, using social media is just as intimidating. They think there’s too much work involved to use social media as a marketing tool. If you feel this way, you have to find a way to get past that intimidation. Not using social media as part of your marketing plan means you are missing an effective and low-cost way to educate people about what your business is all about.

Folks, you have to get into social media. If you have doubts, I have years of statistical data on how powerful and effective social media can be.

However, as with all types of marketing, there is the right way and the wrong way to use social media. Conducting social media marketing without having any idea of what you’re doing can be devastating to the reputation of a business and can be a huge waste of time.

As an intro to Social Media 101, I’d like to provide you with just three tips to start you out:

1. The purpose of social media is to share information — it is not about selling.

If all you do is tell people what you sell and encourage them to come to your business, you will just annoy people. Share your knowledge about how your product can make their world better, and they will begin to position you or your business as a problem solver.

Educate them on the use of your product. Show and tell them about the benefits that can be had after using your product. These are soft selling techniques, but they are mostly educational techniques; people won’t buy anything if they aren’t educated about the benefits of the product or service. By sharing this information with others, you capture a piece of their brain so when they need your product or service they will think about your business because you provided them with some free information — unlike other businesses which just tried to sell them something.

2. You do not have to be on every social media channel.

It’s all about them (your customers) and not about you. I don’t care if you like Facebook/ Twitter / Pinterest/ Instagram, I only care about the social media channel that your customer likes. If you love Facebook and your customer loves Facebook then that’s great; use Facebook as part of your marketing plan. But if the only reason you want to use Facebook, or any other channel, is because you are personally familiar with using that channel, then that’s not a good reason.

What’s the point of marketing on a channel that your customers aren’t paying attention to? You’re just wasting your time.

Market your business using the social media channel that your target customers are using. If that means learning a social media channel that you are not familiar with, then you’ll have to learn it.  Start with mastering one and then you can move onto others. Don’t try to learn them all at once as this will take up a lot of your time and most likely you will become frustrated quickly.

How do you know which social media channel your target customers are using? The best way to learn is to ask them, but there are lots of sources out there to help you with some demographic type statistics. For example, you can watch for media reports, read Statistics Canada reports or access statistics from online sources such as,, or

3. You need to develop a content file.

The biggest complaint I hear from people not using social media is they don’t have the time. Usually what happens is they open up that social media channel and then try to think of some tip or message to send out. Of course, their mind goes blank.

Here’s a suggestion: Since you’re an expert in your area and have a wealth of information in your head, tap into it when you have time and put it into a file that you can quickly access later on. This way when you’re rushed and only have five minutes to send a social media message, you simply go to that file and your information is ready to be sent. This can take the frustration and time commitment out of marketing through social media.

There you go – 1,2,3. Get started now!

Lynda Kavanagh has owned and operated WOW Communications & Training since 1994. Her company provides business coaching and training focusing on sales and marketing issues.

She will be a keynote speaker at the Spring 2016 Alberta Gift Fair.