Social Media Isn't For Experts

As I said yesterday, I attended the Social Fresh Portland conference on Monday because I won a ticket through Twitter (check out some good reviews of the conference by Sarah and Eric). Essentially Social Fresh was asking social media trivia questions and giving tickets to people who knew the answers. Incredibly I knew the answer to “what was the first tweet and who was it by?” The conference really was a great experience. I came away being greatly reminded of how much social media can accomplish when done correctly.

Here are some parts of the day that have stuck with me:

  • Social activity is now the 4th most popular online activity, ahead of email. How many churches have an email address but no valid social media presence? Might that be a problem?
  • “If it’s important, then you find a way.” Everyone says they don’t have time for social media. People always ask me how I find time to use Twitter, Facebook, and blog almost everyday. The simple answer is that I make sacrifices for it because I know it is important.
  • Downsides of social media: all employees are spokespeople 24/7, the same principles of previous communication applies this is just a different tool, “the cardinal sin in social media is silence.”
  • “The only thing that will bring zero results is doing nothing.”
  • Learn to write. 95% of the first communication to an audience is through the written word. This blog is a great example of that…I need to work on my writing.

Being that this was a marketing conference on social media there was a lot of talk on Return on Investment (ROI, meaning if a company puts money into social media, how much are they making from that money put in). The people coming to this conference are looking at how they can make money or save money using social media instead of something else.

All day long I remember this thought going through my head, “social media isn’t for experts.” What do I mean by that?

So many of the speakers I heard wanted to turn social media into a money-making machine, a way to grow influence, and a new way to become popular. Granted a lot of the experts I listened to really get it, but too many would rather turn social media into a machine. The problem with that?

Before social media is anything else, it is first…SOCIAL (what a concept). It is a place to connect with people.

I love social media for one very simple reason: you. Yes you, the person reading this on your comptuer/phone screen. Behind every avatar on Twitter and profile picture on Facebook is a real person that I have the opportunity to connect with. Sure it might be a little different than sitting down over coffee, but the opportunity to connect does exist in a real way. That is the only reason I put all the time and effort into all this.

The experts want to turn social media into strategies.

I’d rather focus on people.