This year marks my 10 year anniversary in managing some form of social media. How do I have 10 years experience in a “new” online medium like social media? Well, my first foray into community management was in 2002 when I began an online community forum for ethnic Romanian youth. It was a community that I grew from 1 person to over 30,000 members within 4 years. I trace this experience as my first experience in starting, building, maintaining and growing a social media community. How was it social media? Well on a daily basis members were growing, engaging, commenting, sharing, uploading and even “connecting” which was the tag line of the community.
Then MySpace began growing in 2006-7 and eventually Facebook in 2008-9 and the community began to dwindle to a point of an online ghost town of the Old West.
Out of this experience I learned a key valuable lesson that has following me through my professional career in making a living in leading and directing social media practice for large corporations. As big or little as your community is or as small or large as your budget for social media may be, one thing is key. We need to keep Social Media Rudimentary.
What is Rudimentary Social Media?
Social media at the core is about sparking relationships, building trust, and nurturing conversation. Let’s go ahead and break up these 3 key principles and distinguish between them so we can keep social media rudimentary.
1. Sparking Relationships
One of the primary elements of social media is sparking relationships. A relationship is something that needs a spark. It does not start without that first approach. That moment when someone has the courage to approach someone and say, Hi! However, social media and the autonomy that it can bring makes that first approach in a relationship even more important.
How many times can you count when someone on Twitter sent you a random tweet that had nothing to do with you? You instantly characterize that person as either a spammer or nuisance.
That is why it is critical that when you spark a relationship via social media it is done the way it was intended to be. You notice someone and have an interest in connecting with that person. You look for the opportunity to approach that person and introduce yourself hopefully with something that you have in common or share interests. Once the opportunity arises you nudge that person or share a thought or comment in order to show who you are.
Once that spark is created in an authentic way, the relationship may begin if there is a mutual respect for one another. Many people within social media try to make it so complex and strategic. Keep it simple. Think of the other person first.
2. Building Trust
Trust is something that takes a long time to build and within an instant it can be lost. Once you have sparked the relationship it takes time to build trust. Perhaps it is consistently encouraging or engaging that person with your thoughts and comments. Better yet, you are able to meet the person in real life to build the human capital necessary to deepen the relationship.
In social media trust is not built on someone liking a post, leaving a comment, or sharing an image with you or your brand. Trust is built with time. If we take a deep look into how social media is used today, very few people can say they trust another person or brand online. Build a solid foundation and you will have long lasting trust.
3. Nurturing Conversation
Once you have sparked the relationship and are building trust there begins to be a moment with conversation becomes routine or worst yet, you know each other so much that conversation evaporates or worse is a tendency to move on to the next great thing. At this point is where the conversation needs to be nurtured. In other words, provide new insights and thoughts. Provide opportunity for things that haven’t been experienced before. Topics that are fresh or current.
With social media being a medium that changes so quickly and relationships are beyond over compulsive with a 140 character limit and short exchanges of ideas, this final step of nurturing the conversation is where authenticity is truly tested.
As social media continues to mature and become more and more ingrained within our culture, people and brands that will evolve to effectively leverage social media will understand the importance of these 3 principles and the dire need to keep social media rudimentary.
Have you over complicated social media? How else can we keep social media rudimentary?