🐚 The Salty Shell: The "Future of Social Media" Isn't New

Published about 2 months ago • 5 min read

I’m happily reintroducing the original format of 🐚 The Salty Shell and diving into a topic that’s close to my heart and crucial to our lives: the power of community. Communities were the original social networks and existed before marketing.

🧂 Salty Insights: Community Isn't a Buzzword

Every day, there seems to be a new theory about the ‘future of social media’ – that it should be more personal, more segmented/niche, and more about real connections rather than broadcasting into the abyss.

DUH. I’ve been preaching and practicing this since social media became a thing for businesses. Actually, WAY before that, I’m talking about AOL chat rooms and MySpace comments. So why are we acting like this is a revolutionary idea? Sadly, because it is for a lot of people and businesses.

Giving a shit isn’t a trend. Community management isn’t just about moderating comments or posting updates; it’s about submerging into pre-existing networks, understanding their value, and engaging in a way that resonates on a personal level.

Look back on the original social media platforms like Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster—they were literally created to connect people in meaningful, not superficial, ways. We could share our thoughts, experiences, photos, and music, fill out extremely personal surveys, and, with the support of our friends, give ourselves a sense of belonging.

Then businesses do what businesses do – they focus on advertising and analytics, making social media commercial and less personal. They wanted the most reach, followers, and high engagement rates, prioritizing content visibility and virality over content quality and meaningful engagement.

Social media became another piece of the business to broadcast self-serving messages rather than a place to build community. They lost sight of what truly matters and focused on monetization and pleasing the algorithm gods.

A standing ovation for the brands that kept community THE priority of social. These brands appreciate and acknowledge the loyalty of their advocates, which is way more valuable than follower and click numbers on a report.

There is a timeless need for human connection. This isn’t a revolution; it’s a return to core values.

I’m not frustrated that people (I see you LinkedIn “thought leaders”) are finally seeing the light, I’m frustrated that it took so long and it’s being packaged as some revolutionary thought. It’s not a trend; it’s your foundation.

⚓️ Anchor Your Success: Community Non-Negotiables

Sustainable engagement is about making people heard and valued (just like the people and departments you work with).

Listen & Understand: don’t just read and respond - engage deeply by listening to their opinions, recognize patterns and trends, understand their needs, ask questions, and genuinely care about their responses. This is how relationships are built.

Provide Value: why are you posting that piece of content or comment? Is it beneficial for your community, or is it 100% self-serving promotional bullshit? Content should inform, support, or entertain while aligning with your customer-centric content pillars.

Encourage Participation: foster a welcoming, approachable community. Create opportunities for followers to share their stories and actively participate in the brand’s narrative.

Adapt: Pay attention to what the people want – if they’re not showing up publicly anymore, focus on platforms or platform features and content they prefer. This could be focusing on Facebook Groups, Discord, Slack etc. Adapting in real-time is crucial – it’s not a goal for the next fiscal. It’s about them.

Be Proactive: Community management and engagement should focus heavily on proactive engagement, meaning your community manager is seeking out conversations and opportunities. The Power of Proactive Engagement.

Integrate Feedback: feedback from your community is gold, it’s free data, it’s the most important data. It should inform your next content calendar and inform other departments like product development and customer service. The community should be a major player in business decisions.

Audit your community. Know who your members are, where they spend their time, what else they care about (it’s not all about you), and what’s important to them. Who cares about demographics? You need to understand behaviors and sub-cultures.

🌊 Use Your Brain Waves

It’s time to reflect on some challenging questions that can lead to more meaningful engagements and thriving communities.

Are you really listening to your community or are you just hearing them?

Take time to analyze feedback and conversations happening around your brand. What can you learn from the meat of the conversations and comments? What’s the sentiment?

P.S. people are talking about you everywhere, and they don’t always tag you.

What is the definition of community management for your brand? What are the expectations?

If hopping on socials a couple of times a day to “do community management” as a chore (chores are things we don’t want to do) or a box to check, you’re not managing anything other than a to do list. What are your engagement tactics? Should you introduce more interactive content, highlight your community, surprise and delight? The options are endless.

Is your content relevant and resonating?

Social media strategy and content refreshes shouldn’t have a date, they should always be evolving and adapting. Use insights from your audience to ensure your content serves a relevant purpose for your followers.

Who are your brand advocates?

Your business should know who your brand advocates are – this isn’t a secret or knowledge only the community manager holds. Create an advocate index, talk about them, talk with them, reference them in meetings and product development.

How do you incorporate feedback into the overall business?

Work with your community manager and relevant teams or departments to set up a structured approach to collect and report feedback. This can evolve into content series that proactively collect feedback from consumers. Community insights and feedback not only inform how community management should be approached but also what content is created and, ultimately, broader business strategies.

Who cares about likes and shares – it’s about loyalty, advocacy, and driving real results. The ROI is word of mouth and sales.

Back to basics – social media was created to give the people of the internet the ability to connect and share. Bring people together and create a space where voices are welcomed, heard and respected.

💌 Tell Me Everything

Hit reply, and let’s get the conversation started:

• What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to building a community?

• How are you making your social interactions meaningful?

• Are you ready to take your community strategy to the next level but need assistance?

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John Cena | Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

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Keep the conversation going!

Chelsea

Even the most successful campaigns have hidden opportunities to deepen customer loyalty and increase engagement.

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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