The Beginning and the End

I’m back in the classroom at Missouri State University after taking the spring semester off. We’re repeating the social media topic for COM 509/609 again, so PRIntrepid will continue with social media posts.

A new semester brings new challenges. Although I’ve taught this course once before, I’m looking back on the materials from the Fall 2010 semester, and I’m amazed at how much has changed. Google+. The demise of Facebook Places (good-bad, somewhere between fun and cool and creepy!). And, plenty of natural disasters and international events that showed us how social media can be valuable and unreliable at the same time.

Brian Solis is one of my favorite social media “big thinkers.” I receive his posts by email every day because I don’t want to miss the latest infographic, trend analysis or social media revelation.

This week, one of his posts, “The End of Social Media 1.0″ is particularly poignant. We must move beyond gaining fans, followers and friends and join the conversation. As with other media (think TV, and specifically cable TV), now that so many consumers have joined the conversation, we have to fight to keep their attention.

As my students will learn, it isn’t simply about pushing out content. Business, organizations, brands – whatever the entities – that are engaging via social media must listen and join the conversation. This is no time to be self-centered.

This is really no different than our interpersonal relationships. (You remember those, right? When you actually talked with a person … face-to-face.) Imagine you are in a group setting, and one person is dominating the conversation without giving others a chance to contribute or respond. If you aren’t being heard, you are likely to withdraw from the conversation (mentally, if not physically). You may also develop a rather negative opinion of the scene-stealer.

Now, apply this to social media. If your business, organization or brand is all about self-promotion without listening or engaging your audience in the conversation, how many of those coveted fans, followers and friends are you likely to lose? And, at what price (their opinion of you and willingness to support/buy)?

The whole idea here is that we (the business, organization or brand) must give value to our social media audiences through engagement. Make it worth their time through engaging entertainment and education, and by caring about their opinions and comments. It’s time to move beyond simply amassing numbers of followers.

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One response to “The Beginning and the End

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