I finally get social media. No, I didn’t just acquire 500 linkedin connections, or get my twitter account up and running. Like 3/4ths of the human population, I have been a user of social media for years. It is only now that I finally get it. Like most facebook users over thirty, I segment my friends into those I went to high school with, college buddies, professional acquaintances, local friends, and cyber hookers with 46 friends who slip through the cracks undetected. I usually post witty remarks, photos, or videos about my life, business, kids, accomplishments, or challenges. I send it out into the universe hoping that my thousands of friends find me as interesting as I do. I am all things to all people.
Yesterday I had a pure social media experience that gave me my AHA! Moment. My three year old was standing at the door yelling goggy, goggy. I was working in my office placating her with “that’s right dear, doggy, good doggy”. She became more animated so I got up and walked to the glass door. She was nose to nose with a black, wolfish looking dog that had wandered onto our porch. It turned out that the dog was very friendly, very thirsty, and very lost. Its tag had fallen off, so after giving it water and explaining to my daughter why we don’t put our face next to strange dogs, I took a picture with my Iphone and posted on my facebook page. My post simply said “lost dog. If you live in Burlington and recognize this dog, get in touch…before my kids get too attached”. Within ½ hour, the dog was back home safe and sound with its grateful owners thanks to one of my facebook peeps who live next door to them. I now realize that this is what social media is all about. It is certainly what the 25 year old twitter users with 150,000 followers have understood from the start. Social media is about more than connection, it is about connecting on common ground. It is about having a conversation with like minded souls on a specific topic. Did my 1500 plus facebook friends who do not live in my town respond to my post? No! because I wasn’t talking to them and they knew it. Most of us are like the guy on the off ramp with the sign that says “will work for food…God bless”. His message is generic and displayed without purpose. Thousands pass him daily with little interest in his message. When we start joining conversations based on topic, geography, ideology, brand loyalty etc., we can then make connections with individuals on a personal level. They will buy our products, align with our beliefs, and drink our kool-aid. By the way, if you happen to pay someone to tweet, post, or manage your social media, you have missed the point. In order to effectively use social media, you must be authentic and be willing to participate in a conversation. If you are the only one who is doing the talking, you are talking to yourself.