What social media is not.

04Nov09

Okay, so I think we’ve involved enough in social media within the association world to say that there are some things we shouldn’t be doing. A lot of these are from the perspective that my organization uses social media as an engagement tool and NOT a broadcast channel. Our focus is on the value of participation, which probably colors my opinion. After you read my list, I’d love for you to weigh in as well.

1. Social Media is NOT a broadcast channel – I find a lot of brands on Twitter (or representatives of brands) are broadcasting things out. Broadcasting needs to be balanced with actual engagement. There is nothing wrong with announcing something, but if you aren’t eliciting feedback, then why would anyone want to listen to you?

2. Social Media is NOT about making money – I think associations are struggling on the ROI (especially if they don’t have a white-label network with ad space), but whether or not you are able to turn a profit, turning a profit should not be your main goal. If it is, then you need to re-evaluate why you are engaging in these conversations. It’s about building relationships, not about soliciting donations. I heard that the Obama campaign didn’t solicit a donation until the 5th time they made contact with you, meaning that you had already established a relationship with them when they asked for donations, meaning you were more likely to donate b/c you hadn’t opt-ed out yet. As with any form of online marketing you need to cultivate a relationship first, then see in what ways those relationships can be leveraged to further your association goals and ROI.

3. Social Media is NOT about telling your audience what they want – The whole point is to listen, so hush up until you have a reason to respond. Find out what your customers/members are saying about you, not tell them what they should be saying.

4. Social Media is NOT about you – I find that the most valuable resources in social media come from individuals that care more about their community than their own celebrity. You can have an opinion (in fact it’s encouraged), but thinking about your community first (especially for associations) is imperative.

5. Social Media is NOT about your canned responses – No longer are we in the days of generic, unauthentic, canned responses. It’s about being real & listening to your customers/members and providing them with a real response.

Those are a few of my personal guidelines, feel free to disagree, but I think we’ve come to a point where there are things you should or should not do.

(Btw, I fully realize this could cause some backlash b/c the general feel is that there is no right or wrong way to do social media)

~Lynn

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