Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't Just Be Social - Be Relevant

I asked a question at a social media conference and was awarded the prize of a T-Shirt.  The shirt boasts the saying; "Don't Just Be Social - Be Relevant".  (There is no other branding on the shirt, so I cannot give a better attribution of this quote).

Every time I wear this shirt people stop me and make comments.  It resonates with those who are heavy users of social media, and those who are not.  There has been so much attention put on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other online communities over the past few years, but much of the usage is just noise.

I belong to several LinkedIn Groups and "like" dozens of Facebook pages, but few are relevant.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter are not providing me with any sense of wonder or inspiration.  I know that I am just more clutter in return to some of those who follow me, too.

We have had this bombardment of "social media" for several years, and there is constant talk about how to make it impact the bottom line.  The skeptics are getting louder, and people are still confused.  Social media and mobile communications are here to stay, but there is not magic answers on how to transform these platforms into business for the company's bottom line.

I work in the meetings industry.  There was a lot of trepidation over the last few years that all the online activity could undermine the face-to-face meeting business.  That coupled with limited budgets in a tough economy caused many to predict the demise of conferences.  But just because the tools we use to communicate have changed (and are still changing), it does not mean that who we are as people has changed.  Humans are experiential beings and we desire the live interactions with others.  Meetings matter and will continue.

The meetings industry, like most businesses, has heavily adopted the use of technology, and every planner desires ways to create a sticky online community that keeps their attendees engaged in with their conference long after the event is over. However, they need more than just a Facebook page to make it relevant.  This can only be achieved if the content and conversations are unique and personal.

For all of us there will continue to be more questions than answers for the short term.  I suggest we remember that when we deal with people (online or in person), that other person has their own "stuff" going on in the background.  That does not change in a virtual environment.  We cannot assume to know their back story without building a real relationship. To be relevant we must be personal.

Speaker Sekou Andrews says "Take me off your Rolodex and put me on your calendar".  He is right.  I got a LinkedIn request from a stranger the other day and before accepting the link I asked for a short phone call.  It was delightful.  It was not a blind click of "accept", but instead a connection to a real person, who is a career minded grandmother who has lived an interesting life beyond what it said on her profile.

Say it with me.... "Don't just be social - Be relevant".

What does relevant mean to you?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

1 comment:

Miss Midwesterly said...

Really interesting post, Thom. I worry that "social business" and "relevant" will soon become just buzzwords, just as "social" itself has become shorthand for "engage, inform, retweet." What "social" and EIR really mean is to remember that being social isn't just flitting from guest to guest, making idle chatter. It's remembering your guests; knowing something about them; giving a hoot, in short. Your anecdote about the brief phone call strikes a chord: nothing in this world works without eventual face-to-face contact. That's really social. Thanks again.
YiShun at The Hub