Social Media for the Keen Amateur

Posted on June 17, 2011

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Social So Far

This week, I was asked to contribute some comments for an article in Vision, an IBM publication about Social Media. Clearly this was in my capacity as a keen amateur rather than a Social Media professional.

My interest in Social is partly driven by the converging fields of Social and Business Intelligence into Collaborative Decision Making Platforms but mostly as a fantastic way of reaching out and being part of a global conversation with those that share the same (and somewhat eclectic) interests.

We Don’t Own It

The key to being involved in Social, Twitter et al in a professional capacity (I only really tweet professionally) is to remember that it is not a marketing platform. First and foremost we corporate folk don’t own it! Social is a public conversation and like any other conversation, good manners and an authentic voice go a long way. If we are mindful of making a contribution to a conversation in a human voice then all other positive behaviours follow.

Vision Contribution

The article required a number of quotes about our experience as relative newbies in the world of Social. Not all of them were used, as is usual with any contributed copy so I have repeated them below for ‘the record’ Apologies to fans for the Emmin reference but I couldn’t resist;

Our Social Experience

1. With Twitter, we took time to listen first. We wanted to discover what others were saying, what generated interest, what subjects compelled a flurry of re-tweets. It gave us some interesting insights into what conversations were already taking place so that we could make contributions that would be considered fresh. We wouldn’t jump into any conversation without listening first and jumping into Twitter is like joining a conversation already in full flow.

2. Our Facebook friends and Twitter followers expect a professional tone on subjects that are related to our field which is analytics and information management. However, they also want to know that they are following a human, not a corporate collective mind. We have found that the occasional insight into how your day is progressing, the interesting people you meet or even something funny you heard on the train will allow your own voice to come through and make your company real to those that are following you. We don’t do it too often, maybe 1 in 10 tweets, but it’s interesting how often they get played back when you actually get to to meet.

3. It’s interesting who we have chosen to tune out over the couple of years we have been using Social media. Firstly the promoters, those that only tweet about their latest product or service offering are not kidding anyone that they are not contributing anything to the conversation. Their tweets are ad breaks and they get tuned out in the same way that we fast forward through the ads with our PVR’s at home. Secondly the road warriors. These guys only tweet about flight delays and long queues at the airport. It gets old quickly. Finally, those that I call ‘Tracey Emmin Tweeters’. These tweeters think we are interested in the minutia of their lives and tweet too often on subjects that really only tell us something about them and their lives. Apologies to the fans of Turner Prize winner Emmin but good conversations like good art tell us something about the world, ourselves and others not just you.

4. Blogging also takes time to get right. Don’t be surprised if there are times, after that initial burst of activity, that you feel like you are running out of ideas. Don’t expect to be a natural overnight and prolific blogger but don’t give up either. You will find that you need to read other peoples blogs to find out what your community are finding interesting. Like all Social Media interactions blogging needs to be more listening than talking. Take a leaf out of Seth Godin’s book (literally) He is a professional blogger but also an author of many books. I heard him comment on a radio show recently that he read 150 books as he was writing his recent (and inspiring) book ‘Lynchpin’.

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Posted in: Social Business