I am a big advocate for social media’s reach, accessibility, and overall potential. I’ve worked heavily within its various channels professionally and fought to teach its benefits to both professional and personal users. I can say with 100% certainty, that social media has positively, deeply, and directly influenced significant areas of my life both at home and work. So, when someone starts a general conversation about moving into an online social space, my response is, JUMP IN HEAD FIRST!
I mean, DUH! If you understand anything about marketing, it’s about being where people are, right?! What other way can you communicate with people at their desk, in the waiting room, at their work, and even the bathroom? Why aren’t you in the social space already? There’s evidence of success at every possible level, from big brands, to law offices, to family farms, so you really have no excuse!
As you can see, my argument is pretty aggressively pro social media. There’s been such a fight to evangelize it, many people living and working in the space have become its cheerleaders. However, as social continues to grow, we need to pull back on the heavy handedness of our argument.
Because here’s the thing, it’s not perfect…
… and that’s okay.
We should have enough faith in what’s great about social media to take a long hard look at its shortcomings from every angle. If we don’t, if we tell people to jump in without warning about the pitfalls or without training for common issues, we risk losing potential advocates.
We need to be aware in explaining the social space, that it’s not a silver bullet, it’s going to add more work, it’s constantly changing, and could open you up to more problems if mismanaged.
We need to grab the elephant by the tusks (I’m really stretching this metaphor thin, huh?), and fearlessly address social media’s flaws, which often happen to be a result of what makes it great.
Here’s a taste of what I hear from people interested in getting started on social media, followed by my response:
“It needs to be constantly and consistently updated?”
Yes, but now your students/clients/colleagues can trust that you are interested, available, and aware of different forms of communication.
“Doesn’t social media open me up to personal attack or criticism?”
If you are prepared to be transparent about your work/methods/social media use and so on, the users that matter will come to value your honesty and trust what you have to say online.
“I tried social media, and it didn’t work.”
Success won’t happen over night. It takes planning, time, and energy to realize strong goals on social media. Think about it as a longterm investment, set realistic goals, don’t be afraid to try new things, and adjust your effort from there.
Before bowing out, consider the quality of your content, the consistency at which you contributed, how often and how quickly you responded to those reaching out to you, and what you really hoped to get out your effort.
What are some of the pitfalls you wished someone had mentioned to you before going social?
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