My take on social media – Sue Bell

Sue Bell

Guest post from Sue Bell, principal Susan Bell Research, Australia.

Click here to see a list of the other posts in this series.

Over the last few months, we have been conducting a bit of an experiment (using the term in its everyday sense) with the Susan Bell Research Facebook page. At least twice a week, we post links to a recent blog, or a tip or quote about the kind of research we conduct. We also regularly share other people’s content there. For example, we have shared 3rd party content from ESOMAR such as the recent article on Qualitative Research and Flex MR’s article about nurturing your consumer panels.

Why are we doing this? We are putting into practice a core belief about communication which is that to communicate clearly you should ‘show’ not ‘tell’. As Mark Twain put it:

  • ‘Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.’ (Mark Twain)

Creative or very visual agencies can use website design to convey a creative image, but it is more difficult for specialist service agencies like ours to use websites to demonstrate what we do. Efforts to explain tend to become words, words and more words – all telling and no showing.

Unlike websites, Facebook is a ‘show’ sort of place which allows us to show what we specialise by posting content about qualitative research, communications research, sensory research, semiotics and language.

Although it has its limitations, Facebook is my preferred ‘show not tell’ platform because it is easy to post links to our blogs, and to tips and quotes that appeal to us, in a reasonably consistent manner. We plan several weeks ahead and only post on certain topics, making sure that any personal stuff stays on personal pages.

Being active on social media is also the best way – bar none – to teach yourself how to advise clients about using social media. Sharing content also helps us to build a network of like-minded agencies internationally, and it encourages other people to share and comment on our stuff, which helps get our message out.

To use it well you have to remember that social media is exactly that: social. It is not a platform to only broadcast information, updates and content from your own business; that is for your website. Social media is about connecting, sharing and starting conversations about our industry and interests. Is it successful? That depends on the success measure you use. In our case, this is not about reach because reach is not what we are after. Image perceptions are more relevant. Any agency thinking of doing what we are doing needs to ask questions like:

  • Do you want to position yourself as an expert in your field?
  • Do you want to connect with like-minded professionals?
  • Do you want to gain more fans or sales leads for your business?

Chances are there is a social media platform out there that will facilitate those needs, so long as you approach it in a realistic and strategic manner.

Would you like to share your take on social media via a blog post on NewMR? We are happy to review suggested posts, ideally about 300 to 600 words. Send you suggested copy to