Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't Forget the Social part of Social Media Part 2

By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate

I am on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and a few other social networking sites. I not only run and manage this blog, I am also a regular contributor to a college and career advice and information site. And the one thing that still baffles me is how so many companies, individuals, and so-called experts have no clue about what to do with social media.

Even after being told that social media is about engagement, empowerment, relationship-building, and collaboration, folks still get on Twitter and the like and do nothing but try to sell their crap. The worst offenders are those who fill their feeds with scripted autotweets.

Social media isn't the traditional form of internet communication. Don't treat it that way. If you must address customer complaints, do so in a way that involves people in making changes to how complaints are handled at the company. If you must send out autotweets, set aside some time to actually build relationships with people. And if you must focus on selling, then create chats on Twitter or stream live chats on Youtube or create a group on LinkedIn. The point here is to get your "customers" intellectually and emotionally involved in what you do.

When I worked as the Chief Social Strategist for StrengthsFactors, there was nothing more important to me than informative content and creating a space for sharing. I didn't want the site to be just another one-way conversation; I wanted it to be a community of ideas.

My 2 1/2 years researching and consulting in social media has made me a believer. Through back-channeling, I've been able to keep up with conferences, follow debates, and keynote addresses. By being actively involved in conversations, I've also been able to connect and collaborate with folks like Robin Roffer, Kristan Cunningham, and Shelly Terrell. By focusing on connection over self-promotion, I've been able to develop an inspiring Personal Learning Network, comprised of educators, journalists, tech enthusiasts, leadership junkies, doctoral students, and social media geeks. That's what makes social media so dynamic and so much more than the one-dimensional website.

I hope companies, individuals, and marketing execs understand that social media can't be coddled and controlled like traditional media. Yes, social media can be used for marketing, but social media isn't a marketing tool. Just like movies, journalism, and the arts can show us the best within ourselves, social media can connect us in ways that facilitate real change and movement.

My advice is simple: Forget about Return on Investment; start thinking about Return on Engagement.

Will Deyamport, III, is an Ed.D. Candidate, a social media leader, and digital academic. His blog, PEOPLEGOGY, was born out of the idea to curate expert voices. In addition to his 11 years of experience in education, he has interned with the likes of Ingrid Stabb and J. T. O’Donnell. Currently, Will is working on his dissertation, which focuses on using Personal Learning Networks to support the individual professional learning needs for teachers.

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