Social Media Is Not Social Media

The term “social media” is being thrown around a lot and, while rightfully so, there seems to be a mis-understanding about what that term means.

Social media consists of the apps and platforms that enable a “one-to-many” conversation between people, groups, and organizations. It is a low-cost entry point. Social media is allows us to be heard.

Beyond that, though, social media is a call to action. It’s not just a series of platforms in which a company or organization can continuously funnel its content to a supine audience (that we call old-school TV advertising…).

Rather it is a social contract between individuals and groups that essentially says,”I’m going to talk then you’re going to talk and together we’ll work on a solution that makes us both happy.”

Social media is a company’s commitment to engage in open and clear conversation with customers and the wider community. Responding to input from fans, customers, and detractors with real commitment or even an honest refusal if the input doesn’t make sense.

Beyond the external conversation comes the equally-valuable internal changes. Organizations who rested comfortably behind walls built on help-desk tickets and customer service requests with long turn-around times and ready-made templates are being dragged out into a world in which conversations and customers are fast and furious.

To stay relevant an organization will have to streamline its’ internal communications and decision-making, hold everyone from the top-down to their commitments, and be willing to learn and grow in a dynamic way. As increasing numbers of people get connected and learn how to navigate the social media spectrum, these practices will become increasingly apparent.

It all sounds good but for most it will be an uncomfortable adjustment as their processes and decision-making have been cloaked in the shadow of organization “tradition” and as their key decision-makers have made a career of hiding behind press released and one-way ad marketing campaigns.

However, for companies that have created a culture of accountability and creativity and have embraced openness, setting success higher than individual ego, this brave new world will only bring greater things for them, their employees, and their shareholders.

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