5 Lessons I’ve Learned About the Conventional Wisdom of Social Networking

iStock_000010059113_ExtraSmallHave you ever been to a convention?  I am not talking about a political one (although the logic I am intending to show applies there also), but an industry one.  The goal of a convention for the attendee is to expand their knowledge and horizons, while the goal of the organization is to present new and forward thinking concepts to excite the masses. Conventional wisdom means trying to get the masses all to line up in neat organized rows. The promise is a better life and prosperity, but the advertisement does not always live up to the hype.

I used to go to NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) when I worked in the video and audio industries.  My dad was retired to Las Vegas, and it was a combo annual family time, with the excitement of learning new things.  I remember walking the floor and looking at all the new technology and how it was going to change the world as we knew it. One of the things I remember blowing my mind was the first plasma displays that you can now but at Walmart for $399 on sale – back then a 40″ plasma monitor (without  TV or internet access and NetFlix) cost $10,000.  The decisions I had to make were, what to let go from my past, while tactfully embracing what could enhance my future?

What techniques or tools are worth the time and effort? All of them took time and most of them took more money to get the latest and greatest new thing.  As a business owner, you had to dig deep to determine which just excited you, and which would actually make you income? The difference between Vegas and home was… in Vegas I was eating dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (usually steak and lobster), at home I was eating dinner at the Hard Knock Cafe (usually at a 7-11 with a bag of popcorn and a Diet Coke).

Social media is often looked at as a panacea or the new frontier for advertising.  It’s neither.  It’s about people and relationships.  Over the course of 30 years in business I have learned many things… trust your financials, marketing is a process not an event, and most importantly – RELATIONSHIPS are the currency of business! Social Networking is not an activity, it’s an investment in your business.  Chances are, you didn’t log into Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter five years ago? What follows are five things I have learned over the past five years:

  1. It Takes Time – So many people that I present to say “I just don’t have the time to do and learn all that?”. What they are really saying is “I just don’t see how this is going to benefit me?”. If you don’t see a return on investment, then you won’t invest the time.  No offense, but these are probably the same people that start marketing again when their business slows down and stop when they are busy.  I HAVE LEARNED – The best time to market and invest in your business is when you don’t have the time…  when you are the busiest!
  2. It Takes Time Part II – Here is something you probably don’t want to hear…  “It can take years for your social media efforts to pay off!”.  I have been blogging, emailing, Facebooking, LinkedIning, Tweeting, Pinning, and analyzing for years. It wasn’t until I started getting out of my seat and started actually meeting people, that my social networking efforts started to pay off with measurable results.  I HAVE LEARNED – The best social networking starts with a smile and a handshake.  From there you have permission to continue conversations.
  3. It Takes Commitment – People get easily frustrated with change. “I barely understand what I am doing and then it all changes?”. There are very limited ‘Ta-Da’ events in social media.  The changes just show up the next time you log in.  Some of the features you loved are gone, while others just appear and you don’t know what to do with them.  If you want to keep up with it all, it means you have to follow others who do, read blogs and articles, post your questions on Google+ or LinkedIn, and be prepared to learn new stuff!  I HAVE LEARNED – We are all waiting for the time when we can coast, but it’s a never ending flow of hills and valleys.  Either you learn to evolve and re-invent yourself, or you will be passed up by someone who is continuing to pedal and peddle more than you!
  4. It Takes Measurement – Just doing things without measurement leads to distorted perspectives.  You would never even imagine exercising, without jumping on a scale once in a while to benchmark your progress. Don’t get obsessed by jumping on the scales 3 times a day.  I see people jumping into social media and expecting immediate results and then quit when it does not measure up (to their expectations).  Anyone who has lost weight or watched the “Biggest Looser“, knows about plateaus and set-backs.  Success comes in spurts and extra efforts does not always translate extra success.  I HAVE LEARNED – Measuring results is key.  Measuring success is a big picture view, like that 20 pounds you want to loose.  That’s the destination. Measuring what’s working and not working NOW, is what you should focus on in the short term. That’s the journey!
  5. It Takes a Thick Skin – How many body builders does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Three…  one to screw in the light bulb and two to say “Dewd.. You’re Huge!”. We all want positive feedback (and that’s the ultimate goal), but you can’t evoke emotion without pushing the envelope sometimes.  If all you are doing is regurgitating lyrics from “The Love Boat”, you may get some feedback, but you are probably going to be seen as just another a lounge singer.  You have to challenge conventional thinking and have some original thoughts, in order to generate a comment, feedback or action. I am not talking about picking religious or political fights, I am talking about stirring the pot in your industry to create conversation.  I HAVE LEARNED – You have to be willing to create original content.  You also have to be wiling to push the edges to shake up comments or interaction. Don’t take negative or opposing comments as a personal attack…  Treat them like a challenge to expand thinking and your sphere of influence.

Over the years I have seen a lot of people who have invested in Techniques, Technology and Trial and Error! What ultimately matters is relationships and people.  All of the things I HAVE LEARNED is about people.  Be yourself and be real.  Care for others and make them a priority.  Social Media is about SOCIAL first and MEDIA next.

What have you learned?  What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear your comments, thoughts and experiences?  Let’s learn from each other!

One Response to 5 Lessons I’ve Learned About the Conventional Wisdom of Social Networking

  1. avatar
    Shawna Tregunna August 4, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    The comparison between conferences and social media is one of my favourites, I think it really brings the idea to life for people that don’t ‘get’ social media. The only other thing I would add is you need to be interesting, have a personality and get involved. You wouldn’t get much out of a conference if you were just a wall flower, hit your room early and only ordered room service every night. It’s the same for social media, people will be drawn to you and you will get more out of it if you have a personality, get involved and loosen up! I know brand managers get up tight at the thought of having a personality and being a little human online but think of it the same way you would sending a representative to a conference; you are relying not only on their product knowledge but also on their ability network and make the connections that mean something for your business – this means they have to chat, wine and dine, joke and show up at the hospitality rooms smiling and shaking hands. It’s the interesting representative with an engaging personality that is going to make the big impact at a conference just like they would on social media.

Leave a Reply