I have had a number of opportunities in recent weeks to talk about the benefits brought by organisations using social media as well as the challenges that exist. It has been a useful time to reflect on what has been for me a journey of just over three years. A lot has changed in that time and there have been some significant events, in some cases these have had a profound impact on me and many other people.
While in this reflective mood it has highlighted some of the themes that exist in developing a healthy and productive approach to social media. I thought it may be useful to bring them together in this latest blog.
1. Social media is here to stay. So let’s not spend time looking back and saying that in the good old days we never had to consider social media and the challenges and issues that it brings. That was the past and what we have to do now is look forward and embrace the future. I remember many years ago my gran saying about how exciting it was when she first had the chance to use ‘moving stairs’ and now we don’t even give escalators a second glance. Social media will be the same.
2. Social media is not evil. It is not the technology that is the problem but the people who operate it. All social media does is highlight the negative elements of human nature but it also highlights the positive aspects as well. If anything the fact that we can see the whole spectrum of behaviour can help us to have discussions about some sensitive issues.
3. Social media brings opportunities. In these days when money and time is tight the fact that we can reach thousands and millions of people at the touch of a button can be hugely beneficial. It also allows people to be creative and innovative. No matter who you are or where you are you have the chance to be a broadcaster, to share information and to show people interesting things.
4. Social media requires some risk taking. To get maximum benefit from networks it needs people and organisations to move away from the risk aversion. They need to have a healthy attitude to events as learning experiences. For companies this means recognising that protecting reputation cannot mean avoiding social media. It is vital that we take some risks and learn what works and doesn’t work without concerns that mean we have our hands tied and sit on the sidelines.
5. Social media is just about conversations. It is not about having to understand the details of complex IT systems, what it is about is having conversations. The people who are good on social media are usually those that we can have a good chat with. They know what is going on, they have the latest updates, they can keep people entertained with their events and stories. They are not necessarily those who have the detailed knowledge about how all the technology functions.
Whenever I get the chance to talk about social media and how it has changed or had an impact on what I do all five things are mentioned at some point. They sound fairly simple but I know that there are all kinds of issues that raise their heads to cause problems and create barriers to moving forward and using the social technology. The only thing I can say is keep pushing and don’t be deterred from what you know is the right thing to do.