Hunting for Social Media Engagement

Believe it or not, tactics and strategies used in hunting can be applied to seeking out new website visitors on social media outlets. You will see that these best practices used in the woods can help you get an edge in finding, knowing, and establishing worthwhile relationships with your social media audiences.

My father is an avid hunter, and growing up with him meant spending lots of time in the woods and learning to hunt. I enjoyed many hours walking in the great outdoors, learning about various animals and developing a great appreciation for nature. I never envisioned that I could apply those lessons to websites, but inspiration comes from all aspects of our lives. In this article I will relate to my time spent studying the whitetail deer.

Know What is In Season

My childhood did not have spring, fall, and winter, as much as it had turkey, archery, and deer season. What season it was determined many things; the weapon could carry, the hours you could hunt, where you would hunt, and even what you wore. If you know what you are hunting, you prepared for it in a specific way that ensured the greatest chance of success. Your social media engagement is a similar experience. You need to know what demographic your church is targeting. This does not mean you will ignore everyone else, but a customized experience will hopefully interest that target market and entice them to interact.

Go Where the Food Is

Deer do not keep storehouses of food in reserve. Every day they must seek out and find their sustenance. By knowing where their food is, you know where they will eventually head to. If you spend time in the woods, you will also know if it is a good year for apples, beach nuts, acorns, or other food sources. One may be plentiful, while others may not have had such a good season. This relates to where different people go online. How you go to market is determined by who you are looking to engage. Where you go to market is determined by where they will be. Should you invest in paid search ads, focus more on Facebook updates, actively monitor the chatter on Twitter, create unique imagery to post on Pinterest, or produce quality videos to publish on YouTube. Determine your target audience, then go where they most often "feed" online.

Know Their Daily Habits

Because my father and I scouted those areas weeks before the season, we knew where the food was as well as their daily habits. Thus I would position my stand along trails at the edge of fields, as deer often feed there at dusk. Very many late afternoons were spent watching deer pass underneath my tree stand as they went to graze in the field. If you already know where your market will be, determine when they will be there. You cannot monitor Twitter 24/7 without going crazy. So be active when you see the most interactions taking place. You will lose staff and/or money by just pushing content out all day long. Be strategic with your thinking and engage when it will have the highest returns.

Only Take Shots Worth Taking

One of my greatest fears was wounding a deer. If it was a bad shot, I knew it would escape to suffer for many weeks or months. I was taught that it was always better to wait until you had a good clean shot than risk wounding it. The same would apply when talking with people on your website. Do not try to convert every person that contacts your church or engages you on social media. Talk with them, get to know them, and only when you think they are ready do you pull the proverbial trigger and ask if they would like to attend a service with you. If you appear overly aggressive or overly desperate, you will push away those potential members.

Action Item

Take the lessons I learned in the woods and apply them to your social media plans. Determine what target market is "in season", know "where they feed", study "how they behave", and ask the tough questions only when there is a "shot worth taking". Please know that I am aware of how this may seem like an awkward analogy and somewhat contradicting. Harvesting a deer means killing it, and converting new Christians will bring them everlasting life. Yet the time I spent hunting in the woods taught me more than how to kill animals. It gave me an appreciation for nature, habitat, and the many amazing creatures God created. Let us examine our social media tactics through this lens and better understand and appreciate how humans interact with each other online.

Note: This article was inspired by my father, Rick Morrissey. He's an avid hunter, and an even more avid father. Thanks for all of the knowledge and love you poured into me over the years.

Photo courtesy of SDHCF

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.