Social Is As Social Does

I’ve had this belief that social media is the gateway to face to face interaction and relationships. And meeting people in person that I’ve met through social media has resulted in some great friendships. But those friendships never would have been possible if the conversation didn’t start on social.

We starting to live in a world where automation is becoming the norm. At work, school, and home, automation has been pitched as a way to become more efficient. Why do something tedious if a machine can do it for you?

Automation has it’s place, but not in social media for me.

And to be honest, I’ve bought into automation for the most part. I have Alexa and some IoT devices at home automating some things for me and some of my bills are paid automatically. I also believe some marketing automation is good too, although it is embarrassing to receive an email from a company to pitch their product when I already have it. And when I first got started in social media, I bought into automation as well.

When I first joined Twitter, one of my goals was to get a lot of followers. As someone that was new to the platform, follower count was a big deal for me. And I also think that when I first joined Twitter (I did make an exit at one point and came back), the numbers actually meant something. This was before social scheduling apps and sites existed or became popular to use. You actually had to be online in order to share content, which meant that you had to be active.

I remember when social automation sites entered the scene too, and I will admit that I’ve tried and used them. There are some that will let you share blog post from a site right when it’s posted. There are some that will allow you to schedule your posts so that you can reach your audience at the most optimal time of day.

There are other kinds of social automation tools that help you grow your following by helping to identify people to follow based on your interests and expertise. Other tools just help you follow people automatically.

I’m not here to pass judgment on social automation. It is my personal preference to not use them, and if you do that’s your choice. But in my opinion, the area where automation cannot help you social is in conversation. Let me clarify, we can program bots to engage in conversation for us, but then it wouldn’t be genuine. And in my opinion, conversation is the the cornerstone for relationships on social media.

If you really want to connect with your audience, have conversations.

Everything revolves around conversation on social. Even if your sole intention is to just get your content more visibility, however selfish that is, it starts with conversation. Conversation builds a relationship, and it’s that relationship that will prompt others to want to share your content (assuming that it’s useful) which will give it more visibility.

Social is as social does. Brands and individuals alike, what you put into it will determine what you get out of it. If you want to be a newsfeed, then expect newsfeed results. If you want to connect with others, understand your community and audience, start having a conversation.

The Responsibility We All Have As Influencers

I give successful bloggers a lot of credit, somehow they find things to write about all the time. I’m not so good at that. So when I have a conversation with someone that sparks an idea, or if I happen to observe or read something that really strikes a chord, I have to write it down as soon as possible.

Social media has handed everyone a global platform, soap box, or mountaintop to talk, yell, scream, mutter, or whisper from. I’ve held onto the thinking that as long as you’re not doing anything illegal or harmful to someone else, how you use social media is completely up to you. I won’t tell you what’s the right way or the wrong way, I’d rather point to examples of methods that are used to successfully attain the goals that were set.

As with any platform or medium, there are people that are more influential than others. Influence can mean something different to everyone but for the sake of this post I’ll say that someone who is influential has the ability to create engagement or an action. That action could be a click, a like, a retweet, or simply starting a back and forth conversation. An influencer is able to generate a reaction to their action.

The question is, how much responsibility does an influencer have when their actions cause reactions that aren’t so great?

For those of you old enough to remember, basketball great Charles Barkley sparked a lot of conversation when he said, “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids”. For the record, I agree with Mr. Barkley, or Sir Charles as he’s often referred to, I don’t want him raising my kids either. But if you have achieved celebrity status, or are a public figure, people will mimic and model themselves after you.

“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids”

~ Charles Barkley

Recently I observed someone with a rather large social following make a comment about the choice of food someone decided to eat. The comment was negative, shaming the decision publicly. Given the individual’s large following, the comment generated a lot of conversation with people agreeing and disagreeing with the comment. Personally I was surprised that the comment was made, and then even more surprised by the defense used when called out about it. They claimed that the comment was made out of concern for the individual they were shaming. In my opinion, if they really wanted to help, they would have spoken to the person privately.

The shaming comment was obviously made to get a reaction from followers, as are all posts made on social media. If you don’t want a reaction to what you have to say, don’t share it on social. But I have to believe that there are better ways to get reactions than at the expense of someone else that doesn’t deserve it.

So were there consequences to that influencers actions? No, probably not. The person being shamed will probably never know that they were. For those that jumped in on the fun, they probably see the tactic as being ok, and that could have an effect later on but probably nothing immediate. If they were to mimic the influencer’s actions in the future could we point back at them and say they cause it? I don’t know, maybe not, but they certainly didn’t help positively. As for me, I know that from now on I will think differently about this person, and not in a good way, and I’m sure others will feel the same.

You might be saying to yourself that you’re not a celebrity, and that might be true. Maybe you’re not. But with social media, you’ve got access to people all around the world. I guarantee you that you’re probably influencing more people than you realize. What you say and react to matters, so think first before putting it out there.