April 26, 2012
As with any form of transferring information, social media can become mired in the idea of broadcasting information out, instead of being true communication.
Take Twitter, for example. Many folks use this networking tool as a broadcast medium. They send out dozens of tweets, but never interact with anyone else. Others do nothing but retweet and repost, but do not listen for feedback. This is a one-way broadcast, not a true communication or collaboration.
Facebook, G+ and Pinterest can be the same way, with people blasting out update after update and pin after pin, but not listening to what other folks are saying in comments or in their own independent posts.
Falling into the trap of broadcasting only can be a killer for any Information Worker. We’re planning to use social media to communicate with customers, potential clients and others; but in reality we’re just screaming into the wilderness. That means the message will quickly get lost.
It’s relatively easy to communicate instead of broadcast, but it does take a little effort. Here’s a few simple ideas to keep in mind:
– Follow other people. So many folks on Twitter just send out information, but follow so few people back that they cannot possibly be listening to what’s out there. This isn’t to say that you should automatically follow everyone, or that you should randomly follow folks. See who interacts with you, and pick some people who you want to interact with. Then follow those people to foster a two-way communication stream.
– Reply and answer back. In addition to posting, read the timelines of those you follow and those who comment on your posts. Reply to them to say thanks, or to ask questions or make comments to foster more dialog. This doesn’t have to be an all-consuming time-sink, just a few minutes here and there in your day is enough for most people.
– Do share links and retweet/repost, but don’t flood your timeline. Forwarding on things you find that are part of your message is a great idea, but a constant stream of links and RT’s can put people off. Instead, use a service like Buffer to spread out your links and other posts so that you reach more people in more places. This gives you the ability to start a dialog with more people in more places, too.
– Talk about other things. Yes, we – as info professionals – mostly talk about what we’re doing/selling/creating. That’s normal and expected, but shouldn’t be the only thing in your timeline. Talk about what’s going on around you – such as local cultural and sporting events happening near you. This allows people to see that you’re not a one-trick-pony, but rather a real person who is willing to talk, not just broadcast. This shouldn’t be forced, however. Pick things you’re interested in to talk about. Got a hobby, play certain games or have an interesting side-job? Talk about those things, so you can show that you’re interested in more than just the corporate message.
Remember, social networking is networking. Multiple people sharing information and talking to each other. Don’t fall into the trap of making your social media streams become a loudspeaker that tunes out anyone else online.