We walk into a class full of people who have blank stares and a bit of a worried look on their face. We regularly teach classes at the University of Texas and for the City of Austin on social media. It helps us keep a pulse on what is going on with people who have been using social media for a while and with people who are just getting started.
These people have paid to be here and are nervous about asking stupid or wrong questions. They are timid and tense at first. We introduce ourselves and start with two very important messages. First, everyone out in the marketing world is being told to “do” Social Media by someone up the food chain. Some have jumped in and are furiously trying anything and everything. Others have put together a strategy of sorts and are starting to get it but are looking for what to do next. The second message is that this IS NOT a technology thing. It’s not you vs. the current crop of social media platforms or the next hundred that are going to come about. It’s about connecting with people.
So many are focused on the wow factor of what the platform will do and how many tricks it can perform. What are all the add-ons? How can I get more followers? How do I game the system? What gets quickly lost on them is that every platform and social media tool out there has one purpose – to enable people to communicate with people. Find which platforms your customers are engaging on and communicate. Don’t assume they are on Facebook and Twitter because they are all over the media. And then engage them as people, not followers or masses you are trying to get to run through a maze of microsites and gimmicks.
At the end of our 8-hour class we usually see people more relaxed with social media. We believe the biggest reason is that we’ve shown them how to put people at the center of their strategy, not the technology.