Is that an oxymoron? Can we really make sense of Social Media when the rules change every day? And what the heck is “social media” anyway?
When you type “social media definition” into a google search, you get 28,100,000 results in .30 seconds. Wow.
“Making Sense of Social Media” was the topic I presented on to my Business Mentoring group this week. I’m proud to say that, 9 years ago, I was contracted to design, develop and implement a business mentoring program, and we’re now in our 8th successful year of operation.
I match entrepreneurs/business owners in early growth mode with seasoned mentors. Each matched pair meets for a minimum of 3 hours a month, and I conduct a monthly meeting that entails a presentation and roundtable discussion. A true meeting of the minds, based on a wisdom exchange model.
All the mentors provide their time and expertise for free, and the mentees pay a nominal sum for a 9 month program. Awesome value. Amazing results.
This week’s topic was “social media”, and I thought I’d share some of the questions and discussion that arose.
“I’m reluctant. I don’t want everyone to know my business, and I’m afraid of the work involved. I was hoping I’d find out that I don’t have to do it. I was hoping you’d say it’s all going to blow up tomorrow, and I don’t have to worry about it. But now it seems like a good idea, and I need to consider what I should do, and how it fits in my plans.”
This was a very common concern of most of the mentees. First: the issue of privacy. Second: the issue of volume of work.
Since the presentation’s premise was: “If you don’t know the WHY, the HOW doesn’t matter”, the group discussed “why” someone would get “social”. Key points:
It tells your story effectively, and positions you as an expert: the go-to business that’s known, liked and trusted.
Re: privacy…it’s kind of locks on doors…they keep the honest people out. First: set privacy settings to one’s own comfort level. Second: Whatever goes on in Vegas, stays on twitter and facebook and google+ and…So, if you don’t want the world to know, don’t press post, or send, or tweet.
If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, think of hiring it out. There are lots of excellent freelancers that can craft content, as long as you align them with your “authentic voice”.
Question: What blogging platform is good?
Answer: Most of the group indicated WordPress
Issue: “I thought that everything online was really anti-social, but I’m coming to realize that it’s actually the opposite. People are really connecting online. But I’m not a writer, and although the idea of a blog seems like a good one, I can’t imagine spending the time to blog.”
Answer: Most of the group really resonated with this. They were torn between the sensibility of blogging/social media presence, and the time, energy and money it would take to have a “social” presence. Things that the group bandied about: hiring freelancers/ NOT doing it if it wasn’t a passion and preference/ starting small/ diving in and adjusting as you go along/ hiding under the covers (yes, I made that last one up, but it was certainly a vibe that I picked up among some of the participants:)
Question: “Why am I getting so much crap in my stream?”
Answer: The group laughed and chuckled at this one. The idea of who’s following whom, the speed at which the information streams flow (a never-ending ticker tape), the distinction between (for example) facebook profiles and facebook pages, the overwhelm of the twitter stream…all pointed to the fact that many people sign up for things without truly understanding the platforms, tools and implications. We broke down some of the fundamentals of twitter, facebook and blogging, and the lightbulbs went on. The group started to grasp the concept that each of the tools and platforms is not “social media”, just like a telephone is not communication. These are just tools that allow the communication. Collective sigh of relief. New perspective gained.
What’s been your experience with “social media”, when dealing with clients or cohorts?
I’ve found that by defining “social media” as a means of communication, NOT the tools or platforms, people “get it”.
Our group talked about how we communicated in the past…everything from smoke signals to pony express to morse code to telephone to today. Couched in those terms, the ah-ha lightbulb went on very quickly, and people’s anxiety level went down, and interest level went up.
It’s been very interesting to see the shifts and changes happening online. Where once it was “comments are currency”, we’re now seeing people say hogwash to that. Where it was seen as essential to sell online, some companies are retracting from that. Where some sites were seen as the holy grail of sharing, some are now seeing as “gramma’s brag book and all me-me-me”, detracting from the very essence of what being “social” really is.
How are you adapting to the ever changing landscape of Social Media?