I was having a conversation with Nate Riggs last week and it was centered around social media and sites like linkedin or twitter. We were recounting the many people who had asked about how to “use” linkedin or other similar sites. There is obviously no one single answer but there is a common thread for the answers that is that you have to ENGAGE!
This appears to be the same problem that existed with websites some time ago when people thought the objective was to “have” a website and then the business would come pouring in. Well that was obviously a misconception and it pales in comparison to the impact the same thought process has in social media. It is my opinion that when someone creates a profile on a social networking site and forgets about it, it is the same thing as going to a f2f networking event, introducing yourself to someone (shaking his/her hand) and then just standing there and staring at them. Who in their right mind would do this??? No one! Yet we will create profiles that lack any context and are horribly incomplete (the sites themselves have tools that even tell you it is incomplete) and then have the audacity to wonder why nothing is happening.
Even on the chance that you have a vibrant and complete profile, there is a more important next step. That is generating content. While cash is still king when it comes to operating a business, content is king in the world of social media. This means that you have to have something interesting to say on a regular basis in order to entice people to “follow” you. (as a side note if you want to learn more about this, look up network theory and read about hubs/nodes/etc.) .
I am not a fan of saying that anything can fundamentally change business because it can’t but there are things that can have significant impacts on business and social media is one of them. The key is to understand how it works and then determine if that works for you/your organization. I was participating in a discussion in a group on linkedin and there was some terrific banter around the question, “Can you outsource your social media?” One of the participants nailed it when he said, “Can you outsource your personality?”
Maybe that is the real issue, with social media we are now seeing that there are many organizations who don’t have a “personality” and that is certainly a weakness. When communication could be controlled, it was not evident but now with everyone at all levels being able to talk, we see some fractured (nay even multiple) personalities.
Hold on tight as we enter the phase of corporations scurrying about to write policies and procedures on limiting access to social media outlets and even try to stop people from discussing work on their own time. Take my word for it, this is going to be a bumpy ride!