You Can’t Understand Social Media if You Don’t Participate

April 22, 2012

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I was talking with a friend of mine who works in Corporate Communications at a big company and she mentioned how her team had embraced social media.

Good, I thought. She must have finally overcome her hesitancy to personally participate.

So did she start a blog? Join Twitter? Was she posting to her company’s Facebook page? Contributing to their online forums?

Nope. She’s got her team doing all of that. She supervises.

So yes, the work gets done, but I’m not convinced she can fully understand the work her team is doing unless she personally participates.

Because I do, I understand how reporters share their stories through social media, and how our customers consume that content — how they share it and act on it.

I understand what drives our customers to share a YouTube video ad and why they skip a video altogether. I understand how a blogger’s misunderstanding of what the facts are in a certain situation can ricochet across the Internet if we don’t act quickly to set the record straight.

Maybe my friend does, too, but I doubt she understands this as well as I do.

Why is it still okay for a corporate communications professional to run social media from a distance? Would you trust someone to run your company’s media relations shop if they never spoke to a journalist? Would you be okay with them managing a speechwriter if they had never written a speech for an executive? Would you be okay with them running your employee communications if they had never surveyed employees to know what exactly employees want and need to hear from you and your company’s leadership team?

There is a generation of communications professionals leading very large Corporate Communications teams who don’t really understand social media because they don’t participate in it. If this describes you, it’s time to stop making excuses. Get someone who you have delegated social media responsibilities to get you up and running and personally involved.

You will learn a lot in a very short amount of time. I’m not saying you have to do everything, but try participating in just one of your company’s social media channels. Watch how your customers or your employees or the media interact there. I promise you, you will learn something valuable and you’ll make better decisions about your company’s social media programs. Along the way, your social media team may just gain a bit more respect for you as a leader.

 

 

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