How social media is like a royal marrying a commoner
So, Prince William of Wales is marrying Kate Middleton, a commoner. My how his life has changed from that of his forebears. No, William didn’t look out over the fair (and royal) maidens the world over and select a suitable bride. No, he went to university (Americans would say they went to college, even if it was to a university, but it sounds so much more British to say “went to university”), studied, had a fairly normal life, and met people- including fair Kate, the heroine of our modern fairy tale.
Similarly, social media is out and amongst the people. It doesn’t look down on them, thinking that it knows best. Social media fosters equality. It represents the ultimate in a democratic process as a given voice can be heard and then amplified. Sometimes that voice starts as a whisper but increases in influence and gains volume as it resonates forward from follower to follower. Ideas or arguments without merit are successfully countered- or worse- simply ignored, and/or fade away into a vast wasteland on the internet.
Social media is about connecting. It’s about connecting across geography, across disciplines, across organizational structures, and across any boundaries that might typically limit or screen access. It’s about small ideas becoming large. Social media is about immediate and timely feedback… no waiting until the next meeting or annual conference. People are on the internet every day talking about issues related to your company, industry, and position. Are you asking questions of it? Are you hungering for more insights? Social media can be surveys and polls and focus groups but without surveys and polls and focus groups, if you just know what to listen for.
Social media is listening… and then talking. Social media is dialogue. What falls on deaf ears in the community known as social media are self-promotion and pushing one’s agenda too strongly. We all have objectives, areas of expertise, audiences we’d like to connect with, and accomplishments we’d like to be known for. But if that’s all you’re doing in social media, you will probably accomplish very little in this space. So… Ask good questions. Help others to accomplish their objectives. Be a resource. Be a facilitator. You’ll be amazed at how often you are then asked about you or recognized in some manner.
It used to be that companies and organizations issued edicts from ivory towers. They would send out their Madison Avenue messages and expect the masses to simply obey their directives. Those days are gone. It’s another revolution, but it’s on an international scale, at an organizational level, and without the violence. Remember the rallying cry of “Taxation without Representation”, now it could be “Marketing without Representation” or “Communications without Representation” or “Public Relations without Representation”. People want a voice; they want to give input on and to companies and agencies about products and services. And they have a voice now with social media. The question is… are you listening?