3 reasons social media doesn’t work

That’s a pretty unusual title coming from me, considering that I’m doing seminars in the next few weeks on using Social Media for nonprofits. Maybe a little disconcerting for clients who’ve asked Oneicity to help with their Social Media strategies. And candidly, my title is not 100% true.

Here’s what I really mean: “3 Reasons Social Media Doesn’t Work Because You’re Doing It Wrong.” But I like the edginess of my title so I’m going with it.

So here you go:

1. Social Media isn’t television in 1960’s. The way the big brands made big money in the 1960’s was that they bought lots and lots of TV spots. There were 3 networks and everyone was watching. The percentage of the people in the US who were watching every night was astounding. Plus the “buying public” was mentally ready to buy what they were selling. I keep seeing people using social media that same way…it’s FREE! I’ll post all the time.

Hmmm….Social Media is not broadcast media, it is a social media. I’m thinking “duh” as I write this but really how much “social” do you see on your Facebook page from organizations? I’ve been watching my Facebook page closely the last few weeks. It’s been depressingly difficult to find any organizations having conversations. And maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had trouble getting conversations from many who are “broadcasting” on Social Media. They’re talking at their communities. Acting like Texaco or Ivory Soap circa 1964 isn’t going to work today.

2. Social Media isn’t One Way. Social Media is conversation. Social Media is about listening. Think about this, you’ve been at a party and gotten stuck standing next to the bean dip with the guy who’s looking for a sale or a job…and all he’s doing is talking about himself. And when he does stop to ask a question, it’s still all about what he wants or wants you to do. What you’re going to do for him…that’s when I’m looking for an escape.

As I’ve been watching, I’m cringing how many good organizations are doing the same thing. Nothing but blah, blah, blah… Hoots always says that a good Social Media plan begins with listening. That has never been more true. I’d add that a good Social Media plan is really being interested learning about the people who are your friends (or fans or followers or whatever) — learning about them and listening to them and having a conversation with them. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what people want from Social Media.

3. Social Media isn’t Instant. Social Media is about relationships, in fact, around our office, we’d say: it’s all about relationships® (we believe in relationships so much that we trademarked the phrase for our niche). You know that relationships don’t develop instantly—in person or through social media. You have to get to know people…and most importantly they have to get to know you. That “getting to know each other” process can’t be rushed. It’s organic and takes time. Some people warm up fast and will be your friend quickly. Others take longer. That’s the way people are. And you’re dealing with people. Give ‘em time.

That’s why Social Media doesn’t work, but here’s the good news: your organization already has people who love you. And you, if you read any of the crazy things we say, “get” how this works. So, you have one of the greatest tools of all time in your hands: Social Media. Start a conversation. Ask a question. Respond to a post. Jump in. You’ll do great.

And it will work.

What do you think? How are you seeing Social Media “not work”? What do you see that is working? I love hearing how you’re thinking.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credit: Jeramey Jannene)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

2 thoughts on “3 reasons social media doesn’t work”

  1. Great insight, I think a lesson in Social Media Manners would do us all some good. From what I have observed, Facebookers seem to really respond to questions that allow them to share something they are proud of, after all, where else do you turn to brag these days?

  2. Great to hear from you Corrie! Yep, FB is all about everyone talking about what they’re proud of. That does allow for some “listening” opportunities–what are people proud of? What do people want to talk about?

    Good thinking, thanks for dropping by.

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