How do you feel when you hear the term “social media”?
Do you swoon over the endless possibilities of connecting with new and interesting people and ideas from all over the world? Or do you bristle at the foreign, confusing landscape of Tweets, Facebooks, and hashtags?
If find yourself closer to the latter, then this post is especially for you. The world of social media is navigable, and getting a passport is easier than you might think.
Beware the social media “guru”
There aren’t a great deal of accredited degree programs for social media out there, at least not as of the time of this writing. And that’s part of the point. The rapid evolution of social media “do’s and don’ts” makes any static information obsolete more quickly than ever before.
The best practice for being an expert in social media is to be constantly using the tools themselves and to regularly discuss changes with others who are doing the same. In fact, the idea of social media as a practice might be one of the best ways to understand how to become proficient in it. If you focus social media as a practice, then maybe you can eventually become a guru! Just make sure that when you listen to someone tell you how YOU should do social media that you are also able to observe how THEY use it, as well.
What’s that saying again? “Practice what you preach?” I think that it’s worth heeding in this context for seeking social media training.
The underlying truth in “social” media
Social media has radically changed how we are all able to connect to each other using technology; that much is clear. But what hasn’t changed as much are the principles of human behavior that are common across situational, cultural, and even historical contexts. The patterns of how humans behave together have been studied extensively in the fields of sociology and social psychology, and can even be predictable in some cases.
For example, humans tend to trust third-party testimonials regarding the quality of a good or service, but they tend to be distrustful of someone promoting his or her own good or service. We are able to pick up on the bias of a self-interested party in real life, which is why we trust the advice of our neighbor more than a commissioned salesperson on making a purchase decision. In the same way, many social networks like Facebook and Twitter have seen the most effective engagement via organic posts due to consumer-to-consumer interaction, and not as much with business-to-consumer outreach.
Social media still comes down to being effective at communication.
“People Learn From People They Love”
I first heard that phrase from writer David Brooks during an interview that he did with NPR a few years back. In his book, “The Social Animal,” Brooks dives into a number of studies on human behavior, and how so much of how we learn and grow comes from the people around us with whom we find a connection.
Maybe the most important part of finding a great resource for social media training is to look for someone that you admire and respect.
As with any effective educator, your social media trainer should be someone who can speak at your level.
Your questions should drive the social media training
There is no one “right” way to utilize social media. Be wary of anyone who tells you the precise way to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or any other tool if they don’t first know about your organization, your industry, and your audience. You should feel comfortable enough to ask the questions, “Why should my organization be on Twitter?” or “Will Pinterest help me to connect with new customers?”
It won’t do a lot of good for you to participate in a social media training event that doesn’t allow you to ask some questions that are specific to your situation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here.
Don’t just hire someone else to “do” social media for you
The final piece of advice I would like to share with you about this is to find a way to “do” social media yourself. There are aspects of digital marketing that are appropriate to outsource and work with third parties on, but social media posts should be outsourced with great care. If you hand over your brand to someone else, your audience will judge you by the content that person produces. If it’s too generic, your audience will probably find your brand a bit generic, as well.
Social media is becoming more important, not less
Remember, your social media profile may be the first impression that a new customer has of your brand. You should be willing to make sure that it’s an accurate one.
A good social media trainer can help to empower you to do just that.