Social Media must be one of the hottest buzzwords at the moment; from value in $, to time lost at work, to legal challenges on employers requesting potential employees’ social media activities.
Opinion on the value of social media also seems polarised: from ‘the most valuable asset we have’ to ‘it’s great for keeping those who normally stop others working from interfering with our bottom line’!!
My basic question is not whether social media is valuable, as we know that many people who are isolated through location, illness, age etc find it a real connection to the outside world, but how can we make social media valuable to us?
There is no doubting it’s value for engaging others in our personal and business activities, but there for me is the key word; ‘Engaging’.
I wonder how many reading this, like me, are fed up with seeing interesting or catchy titles on the likes of LinkedIn or Facebook, only to discover that it is yet another stranger selling us their wares or skills. It’s kind of, “Hey, we’ve never met, we’ve developed zero relationship, but I expect you to trust me with your time, money and effort!”
I DON’T THINK SO!
The great value of social media lies in the title, ‘social’. It’s about engagement, getting to know people, helping people, allowing them to get to know you.
It’s about relationship.
Used in the right way it is great. Used as a substitute for face-to-face talks, a cup of coffee and a chat, a business meeting, picking up the ‘phone or a visit to a friend, it is pretty impotent.
Used incorrectly or inappropriately, social media can be damaging to us as individuals or businesses and to our reputations. It is not a substitute for personal interaction but a supplement to it. Indeed many of the most successful individuals on social media have excellent interpersonal skills and are successful in their one-to-one relationships.
When we are hired for a job or chosen as a friend or confidant, we are chosen for what we bring to that role and our personal attributes: our passions, commitment, reliability etc. Unless we can establish these in our day-to-day lives we will never be able to establish them in our social media activities. Our readers are often very perceptive and can smell inconsistency or insincerity a mile off; if not now, then certainly in future.
And, as with personal relationships, it all takes time. I have spoken to many people who tell me that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are useless; they’ve never received any benefit from them. When I ask how many people they’ve helped, they just look confused! Unless we are prepared to engage with others, why should we expect them to engage with and trust us? Most of us would consider it unreasonable to walk up to someone and say, “Hi! I’m Stuart. I can be trusted. Now give me your money” and yet we think that because we’re using a computer and an impersonal medium, we will be successful if we try that online.
In order to reach that point I believe we have to show an interest in the needs of others, demonstrate consistency and commitment, be prepared to ask questions without always having the answer and be trustworthy, in fact, we should approach social media with the same attitude as we would a personal relationship. If we struggle in the are of personal relationships, perhaps we need to work on those before trying to engage in social media which, at the end of the day, leaves a permanent reference mark carved into the worldwide web which can be referenced or searched by anyone who wishes to interact with us (should they wish) … and it’s better that they find good reports about us than damning ones.
Social Media is about social interaction and engagement; if we can be successful with these in our daily, personal lives, I believe we will also be more successful in our social media activities.