Tend your backyard first

Thank you to Abbie Thomas for sharing her training experience.

I recently did a two-day course with the generous support of an ASC Professional Development Grant. The course on using Social Media was run by Tim Holt, a social media trainer from Melbourne whose runs the social media company Net101.

Over two days, Tim took us through the basics and the more advanced aspects of Social Media and how to use it for marketing and communications.

The students attending the course were a diverse bunch: a guy who owned an educational music business, the communications manager of a research centre for contaminated sites, the media manager of a medical research institute, while my neighbour was editor of a regional South Australian newspaper.

What this told me is that no matter what area of communication you work in, we all need to know about social media. How big a role it should play in our work, how much effort we should put in to it, and what rewards it can reap we hoped to find out.

Over two days, we were bombarded with a wealth of tips and tricks for improving our use of social media: how to write great tweets, how to discover which Facebook posts your fans have shared the most, where to find cheap cool graphics, and how to write website text that will get the Googlers landing on your site.

But among all the jargon flying around, Tim put it to us that, actually, social media isn’t the main game in town.

While it’s easy to get all excited and puffed up about how many people have Liked, Reposted, Retweeted or Shared your content, there’s a more important thing that is easily overlooked: your own website. Social media is all very well, says Tim, but it will always be ‘rented real estate’ – somewhere you occupy for only a short time and over which you have no control. By contrast, your website is all yours: no-one can change it, no one can take your content off it, and it will, if nurtured, grow into a valuable asset.

‘Websites are like a garden – if you don’t tend it, it will degrade,’ says Tim.

‘Treat your front page like the lobby of a successful business: it should always look sparkling, clean and fresh.

‘Allocate time every week to checking links, adding new content and keeping the site looking its best.’

For the total time you spend on social media and web management, Tim suggests allocating 80% to your website, and just 20% on your social media activity.

Because internet fashions in fonts, colours and design are constantly changing, a website can start looking out of date quite quickly. Tim’s rule of thumb is to refresh the look of your site at least every 2-3 years, otherwise it will start looking daggy and uncool.

I’m still not convinced social media can generate big profits, but Tim has convinced me that the cornerstone of any social media strategy must start, and finish, with a cool, up to date, well looked after website.


Tim Martin at NET:101 Social Media Courses has generously offered a 20% discount to any NET:101 course up until the end of 2015 for ASC members.

To redeem your discount use the promo code ‘science’ when registering.


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