Monday, November 15, 2010

Social media doesn’t create friends, people do (Part 5 of 11 NetNon series)

Listen, converse and build strong relationships. There are many different variations of the basic steps of social engagement, but they are all very similar. But how does that fit in with reality?

The reality is that many orgs have a couple designated people that are allowed to speak on behalf of the organization. Those people “know the party line” and can answer properly. We have been burned before so staff are asked to not reply on behalf of the org. This causes a direct conflict with the listening and conversing steps if the people starting your social media aren’t one of the “designated people.”

So we stumble across some mentions of our org, but we don’t reply because we don’t have the authority and it isn’t a big enough deal to pass up the food chain. Strike that up to missed opportunity.

Social media gets launched and so begins the next internal battle, will we use our powers for good? Do we start with the intention of being social or are we so focused on the end goal that we miss the party? Do we try to maintain control so tight that we push everyone away? Do we create a sense of trusting the good in people or are we always braced for the worst?

So many people think that the reason starting or running good social media is hard is because the tools are technical, technology is advanced or above their skill level. But the real challenge is in why you are using it, is your org really ready to be social?

Social media doesn’t create friends people do.

Don’t just read that sentence and move on. Really think about it. The social media tools don’t mean anything without the people behind it. So are there people behind your social media strategy or a set of processes, programmed responses and one way communications?

If every conversation has to start with YOU saying something, I will get bored. If you let ME start a conversation and YOU reply, that means more. You actually wanted to know what I have to say and replied.

Think about it, don’t have that friend that always wants to drive the conversation, you have to talk about what they want…. They are so annoying. Maybe I have something to say about a different topic.

I am going to share my thoughts about the book "The Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine over 11 posts, this was part 5 (one for each chapter).  But rather than just tell you what the chapter is about, I am going to share what I learned from it, any reactions and extra thoughts that I would add.  However the big caution I have with this, is that I am just not as smart and experienced as Beth and Allison, so you should probably just buy the book.

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