I must confess, I am still fairly new to the social media world. I have held executive positions in many large organizations- for profits and non-profits. It seems social media never permeated the higher echelons. My colleagues and I were always too busy attending meetings and responding to e-mails. Fortunately for me, I became an entrepreneur last summer and found ample time- as I was waiting for my first consulting clients- to learn about social media. I’ve been blogging and tweeting ever since.
A few months ago, I attended the annual Canadian Business for Social Responsibility conference in Toronto. One of the speakers, Chris Jarvis, recommended Trust Agent as a good read for anyone wanting to learn more about social media. Here’s what stood out for me in Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book:
1- To succeed on the web you have to be trustworthy
The way to thrive on the web is to build social capital by being “competent and reliable” and by “leaving someone with a positive emotional impression”. Your readers will very rapidly pick-up clues that will reveal your true motives. Whatever you are trying to achieve, do it with sincerity, be genuine.
2- The world is a game
Chris and Julien grew-up playing computer games. In a gaming environment success comes from trial and error. There is no long-term strategic planning, no complex analytic process. You try something and if it works, you move on. If it fails, you try something else until you succeed. This is how they perceive life itself, as a game. Try launching a product or business and if you fail, learn from it and just try again. Eventually you will get the winning formula- it is organic growth at its best!
3- Interact frequently and regularly
To be taken seriously you must be visible and participate actively. Just like any social club or community organization, you get the most when you get involved. If you just watch from the sidelines you will miss all the action and associated benefits. To earn your place you have to “bring wine to the picnic”.
4- Social media can have a humanizing effect on companies
Consumers have become very cynical of large organizations. How can trust be restored? Many progressive organizations have staff fully engaged in dialogue with their customers through blogs, Facebook, twitter. They show the human dimension of the organization in a frank and authentic way. They create trust for the brand. Social media provides limitless occasions to engage customers and exchange ideas in a way traditional advertising never could achieve.
5-Helping others is the best way to help yourself
Brogan and Smith constantly remind their readers to be generous: “Good things happen to good people”, “work hard at promoting others 12 times as much as you promote yourself”.
I’m still unsure how to get executives to participate directly (not through an assistant). Time demands restrict their availability to engage meaningfully and most of their peers are not actively twitting or blogging … I would love to read what you’re thinking!