How Social Media Can Be Your Enemy

One of the evident marks of our time is social media. It has challenged our definition of friends, community, transparency, corporate accountability and movements. If harnessed properly, it is a tool that can be used to mobilise masses.

Recent history, such as the UK riotsEgyptian uprisings and more, is proof enough. Social media has made leaders, brands and celebrities more accessible.

Social media per se is neither good nor bad. It can be your friend or foe.It is worth thinking about how social media can be your enemy:

Don’t Use It

In this age, any organization, brand and cause that will effectively engage and mobilize people cannot do so effectively without employing this tool. Social media can easily be your enemy if you do not use it at all.

It is not true that everyone is on social media. However, the number of people on social media is too significant it can be corporate suicide to ignore. Organizations that do not use social media at all are crippling themselves.

Overuse (Whatever That Is)

Unless social media is your main focus or work, focusing all your energy on it can work against you when it usurps time and resources you should be using to focus on other areas of productivity.

Some organizations have gone as far as blocking access to social networks from their networks. This is becoming increasingly futile as people use their phones and tablets.

If social media is not your primary focus ensure you have measures in place to protect you productivity where it matters the most.

Engage

Another self-defeating thing I’ve noticed is organizations or causes that have Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, blogs etc that they are not active.

Social media platforms can take you where your target people are and those your organization serves can easily get frustrated with you and ditch your product for the lack of interaction with them.

It may be worthwhile for you to start with something simple like a Facebook page or Twitter account. Something you must never do: not interact on any platform at all. For the platforms you are on ensure that you are active.

Your response and how quickly you respond to queries on social media platforms is fast becoming a litmus test on the quality of client service you offer.At the same time, only using your online presence to only “broadcast” messages is uncaring and insensitive.

As you attempt to inform people of your cause ensure that you are engaging people; talk to them not at them. Social media has created what I call “brand personality”.

By this I mean that people are connecting with products as if the product themselves are individuals with personality. Social media has made alive the personality of brands.

If people cannot connect with your cause on social media with your brand’s personality they may not do so where it matters most

(PS: You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+)

Question: What other ways have you seen social media become work against a product, message or cause?

illustration by birgerking (cc)

UK Riots, Social Media AND The Real Problem

I read a Mashable blog post about Facebook and (Research In Motion) RIM, the Blackberry manufacturer, going to meet UK government officials. The agenda seems to be a result of prime minister, David Cameron’s statement in the House of Commons. According to Mashable, David Cameron mentioned on how, together with some government agencies, they were looking into the possibility of stopping people that were communicating on social media platforms with malevolent intent.

My thoughts… Imposing a ban may not really be the solution.  I think it is important to have some regulations and laws in order to protect people. At the same time I think the riots and history has shown that while the law may deter some from engaging in some activities, it will not deter all. Putting a ban on social media could be like putting a ban on the use of cars because bank robbers used it as a means to get away. Traffic laws still exist… There should be regulations… You cannot shutdown a whole transport system because the ‘bad guys’ use it to get about. How different would the UK government be from some of the states they’ve lambasted in implementing some communication restrictions, if they did the same…? That would be hypocritical! It would be sad waste resources to pursue eradication of means to destructive ends that are merely tools. The scope of my post is not the ban or regulations…

Somehow attention seems to be going to social media. As I’ve already suggested, I don’t think imposing a ban on social media is the solution. The problem is not social media per se. Social media is merely an ‘innocent’ tool. It is neither good nor bad. When society is faced with what the UK experienced recently, it is more important to look at why people did what they did and to the extent they went. Not necessarily what they used. The recent events should cause the UK government and other countries around to world to ask, why the riots started in the first place.

One of the issues is that of values. People’s actions are a mere manifestation of their values. Actions will be always lived out based on the values embraced. The majority of the rioters were young people. In the recent years how people were brought up has been used as justification for malevolent action. In this case, I think it may be used appropriately. Before we blame the looting rioters I think society must first acknowledge and own its part in raising generation acting in this manner. This does not absolve the young people of any responsibility. They still had choices to not participate and perhaps start a counter campaign. Some made choices not to give in to negative peer pressure. Some opportunists grabbed at the chance to get things they never broke a sweat to attain.

 The riots are evidence that work, integrity, character, justice, goodwill to others and other values are no longer as highly esteemed. This could be a result of government policies. It could relate to how the young people are being brought up. It could be a result of the promotion of flippant value on things / stuff, they are taught by some bad role models. Perhaps just a heightened selfishness. Maybe all of the above…

 This is a debate I’ve been having with myself. I honestly don’t know the answer. Oh! And before it sounds like I’m out to bash the UK government, let me say it could’ve been any country in the world. I wonder how many other countries or communities around the world, under the right conditions would’ve experienced what the UK has in the last few days. I think the riots and looting should be a wakeup call not just to the UK government, but the world at large.

 We should all be looking at ourselves, as individuals, families, communities, counties, districts and countries and ask ourselves some questions. What kind of communities are we building? What values are we embracing and perpetuating in the lives of the young around us? Why do we seem not to have the courage to address the real issues, but rush to ‘blame’ the tools being used to manifest the fruit of our failure to confront ourselves and our children? The question we should be asking is not what was stolen. It should not be what was used to rally the young people; if the tools used were to be taken away completely, I am sure they would find other means if they were determined. The question should be why and how are we contributing to this denigration of values, as individuals right up to the collective as nations?

 Your thoughts?


11 Reasons Why I Follow & Read Blogs

blog

  1. I’m always hungry to grow. Investing in enlarging one’s capacity is never a wasted investment. Significant growth is often with the help or contribution of others. When we close ourselves to listening to others we miss out on opportunities of growth.
  2. I just love seeing ideas develop. In fact, one of the blogs I read often is the author of A Million Miles In A Thousand Days and Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller’s. He has a tag-line on his blog, “Before it becomes a book, it all gets tested here. Forgive the rough patches. Here is the writing in process”. I like it. Blogs allow me to ‘hear’ the musings of some of my favorite authors as they develop new work.
  3. They’re easily accessible. Need I say more?
  4. They help me save money mainly in two ways. Some blogs write on specific subjects e.g. testing and publishing comparisons on two competing products. Thus help me in decision-making. I really like books. This brings me to the second way blogs save me money. I can make a more informed decision on whether I would enjoy reading the work of a particular author. You guessed it. I’m more likely to buy an author I’m not familiar with if I can read her blog first. You want me to buy your book?
  5. I also read blogs from people who share totally different views with me. This helps refine my thinking. One of the reasons people fail is that they never allow their perspective to be challenged enough! It also saves me making a fool of myself on bigger platforms.
  6. Blog posts are generally not lengthy. They come in bite sizes, and a good source of reading when the ‘tomes’ feel a little intimidating. When am not intensely reading books I’m intensely reading blog posts on diverse areas of interest.
  7. I’ve realized that some authors are less formal when they blog. I like the more informal tones when it comes to reading and blogs generally provides that. Information presented in an easy to assimilate way. Some bloggers incorporate other media e.g. video tutorials etc
  8. I particularly enjoy where the blogger engages comments in a healthy manner. I’ve seen blog posts become even more insightful as people comment, interacting with the blogger and each other. In cases of specialized subjects, blogs help bring more than one expert’s opinion and side of the story when they do engage.
  9. I would like to be a great blogger and writer in general and want to see how others do it.
  10. Some writers continue to dig deeper on chosen subjects after publishing some of their work. Reading their blogs gives me their more current findings and thoughts on chosen subjects.
  11. I like that I get to see some authors I respect waffle sometimes. I find it very liberating! There’s hope for me! :-)

What I’ve Learned From Twitter

Some reflections on what I’ve learned on Twitter so far:

Follow

People need you to give them a reason to follow you. Do you have something worthwhile to tweet or are your tweets relevant to them? At different stages I’ve followed different people depending on what I am interested in at that time. There are however, those that i follow constantly.

There are other people or organizations i follow “indirectly”. I do this through the use of private lists. I’ve also learnt that people follow you for different reasons. Some to spam, others because they want to “hear” what your thoughts are, others to engage with you on areas of interest. It’s normally the same in “real life”…

People may be following you but for different reasons. Some may follow because they are skeptics and want to be around to say, “I knew you wouldn’t be able to do it”. Others follow you because they believe in your cause, or want to learn from you.

Discipline

When I decided to get on twitter, I set myself a challenge; to say at least two things everyday that were edifying in some way. I do use twitter to interact and engage with other people also, but want to also challenge others as they challenge me. It was not a walk in the park at first but with time got better.

As an ‘aspiring author’ this has helped. I also used twitter as my practice field for blogging. I thought, “if I can commit to a couple of (edifying) tweets everyday, it will help my discipline when I get back to blogging”.

Nothing can be sustained without discipline. You are probably the most disciplined person you know! To know what you are disciplined in, look at the most defined areas of your life.

Worth

“140 characters?!” I get that reaction a lot when I explain twitter to people. They just cannot get their heads around the number of characters a single tweet can comprise (obviously they’re not on twitter). I’ve learned the value or worth of what we say everyday is not in the amount of words you use.

I’ve come to appreciate more the worth of words; how to use them to communicate. Tweeting has helped me get straight to the point of what I want to say. If it’s worth saying I challenge myself to say it in a single tweet. I think it’s the same in everyday life and not just in the “twitterspehere”.

The most important things we can say are normally phrases with very few words, “I love you, I’m sorry, Thank you”… [Click to Tweet]

When we use a lot of words sometimes, there is possibility of losing the essence of what we’re trying to communicate. The target for my tweets is 120 characters at the moment. Some of the deepest things I’ve heard or said have been phrases that are concise.

Community

Some people I’ve interacted with claim that twitter and social media in general, are a hindrance to “normal relationships”. I think differently. Twitter has closed the time and geographic divide for me. I’ve been able to interact with people who time and space don’t allow in real-time.

I dare say – with the digital age community has been redefined. I could be wrong,  but my take is if studies are done to contrast the “normal” community and social media communities there would be more similarities than differences. I’ve shared ideas and resources.

For the friends I follow on twitter and interact with in person, Twitter has enhanced relationships. It has helped either start or continue conversations offline. Through use of hashtags I’ve also been able to see what others are saying about a particular subject in real-time. I’ve also learnt to share more, especially when I visit websites or blogs providing the option to tweet the link. I think sharing is one of the characteristics of community, don’t you?

Capture

I always have an “ideas journal” on me, but twitter has become an additional means to capture an idea and to get other people’s insights or thoughts on it. Some of my blog posts are actually “tweet spin-offs”.

When I get ideas or brainstorm I normally capture them in short phrases, so twitter has become great resource for capturing ideas for me. Sometimes those reading my tweets may see a tweet but I see a marker or reminder for an idea, which could be a talk, blog post, an article, an initiative etc

What have you learned from Twitter?