For the “Getting Networked: Maximizing Technology & Social Media for Your Organization” panel being put on by Southside Community Partners, we were asked to contribute a few general thoughts and advice. Here’s what we said:
- Listening. I seriously can’t give better advice than just looking at the actual actions and behaviors of your audience(s) first and not just doing social media for the sake of it, or because it’s trendy. Everyone is doing something social online, but audiences and demographics are using it differently. Its important to understand how yours are, otherwise you’ll spend your valuable time creating and providing content for channels that no one wants, needs or is paying attention to.
- Shiny Object Syndrome. So many cool tools come to life nearly every day in social media – and you should play with them and inspect them like you would any toy in the toy aisle. But it is SO easy to spend your time turning a new toy over in your hands while everyone else has decided what they’re playing with for the day, or week or year. This is where just looking and listening to your audience helps.
- Executives With Shiny Object Syndrome. “We need an app!” – we’ve heard a VP shout basically because he or she discovered Angry Birds over the weekend and decided, for no other reason, that they should make one. It’s not that there’s not a good reason to do things like that, it’s just that mere exposure isn’t a good reason. The best way to overcome this is to approach each channel, idea and concept from the audience path rather than the techie or wannabe-techie mindset. Chances are your Chief ___ Officer has a lot more to do than the average target audience member, so what fascinates and entertains them is probably not the exact same.
- Lessons learned: Social media didn’t change the fabric of society – people did. The masses did. Yes, there were innovations in the last ten years, but it was new habits that made them catch on and evolve. A new social channel lives or dies not because it’s cool or even because it’s a fantastic service — but rather because people use it. Some folks like to lift up social media like it’s the special unicorn that will save us all, or they groan and point to it as what has killed other media… both of those views are wrong. Looking at the forest for the trees you’ll see it’s just behavior. The public is in control. And THAT’S what’s scary for those looking to fleece rather than empower.
- To those just starting out: It’s okay – just explore. Find something you like doing online, then seek out a social way to interact with it. Chances are you already do, you just don’t count it as “social media” like looking at star-ratings and reading reviews, or joining that forum for your hobby. Then branch out from there. Don’t get blinded by all the jargon, stick close to your own activities and you’ll understand more about behavior in social than any book can teach you.