Wick Communications

It’s called ‘social’ for a reason

In Online media on 22 Apr 2011 at 8:44 am

I read a post by social media expert Deb Krier recently that pleaded with us to put the social back in “social media.” I agree and simultaneously acknowledge that that is easier said than done.

At the heart of the plea is the concept that Facebook and Twitter and even to some degree blog posts are intended to be a back-and-forth conversation and not a one-way street. President Barack Obama said as much during his appearance at Facebook this week:

“… historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged. And what Facebook allows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you’re also speaking back and we’re in a conversation, were in a dialogue. So I love doing town hall meetings. This format and this company I think is an ideal means for us to be able to carry on this conversation.”

Obviously, any president has an agenda and he intends to use the social media platform to his benefit. But one hopes he is being truthful and that he finds value in hearing from constituents, too. We should be similarly savvy. (Incidentally, Half Moon Bay city leaders this week balked at starting a Facebook page because, more than one City Council member said, they didn’t want to hear negative comments from constituents. Which is crazy.)

Because you want to grow a conversation, it isn’t enough to automatically shuffle your links onto Facebook. You have to engage your friends, just as you would if they were sitting in the same room with you. I’m still learning how to do that myself, but here are a couple thoughts …

  • When people pose a question on your newspaper’s fan page, try to answer them. It may not be possible every time, but I think it’s well worth your while to chime in when you can. It lets readers know that you are engaged and that you care about their interests and opinions. No one likes to ask a question and be ignored.
  • Start conversations, don’t just post links. I don’t think there is universal agreement on this, but I am not a fan of simply loading links from your homepage onto Facebook. I don’t like stuff like that on my personal page; I would much rather see one substantive, interesting post from the people and places I like than 15 links.
  • Realize that you can’t really control social media. The best you can do is participate. Comments and posts will take on a life of their own. Don’t look at it the way you would your own site; you are merely a member of the community, not the center of the universe.



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