Social Media: Before You Move Forward, Step Back

lg_sn-logosWhile many of us live and breathe social media everyday, two recent conferences served as a reminder of the importance of stepping back from time to time for a renewed perspective on purpose, content and format. 

At this week’s PRSA 2010 Michigan Conference in Novi, an event which I co-chaired, social media guru Peter Shankman reiterated a couple of key perspectives during his keynote address that bear repeating and contemplating:

“You owe a debt to those following you—Be interesting.” It’s what we tell our clients and aspire to with each Facebook post and Twitter tweet: Have something to say. Inform and educate in a way that builds both your personal and professional brands without being overtly commercial and promotional.

“The real value of Twitter is in the re-tweet.” Again, be compelling and credible in your content; so much so, in fact that others will want to share your wisdom/information with others. That, in turn, can build a strong, dedicated following beyond merely “following” others so that they will “follow” you (hopefully) back.

Last week, my colleague Justine Fisette, and I presented on some of the basic tenets of social media to several hundred REALTORS at the Realcomp “Tools of the Trade” Conference in Dearborn. At the end of our discussion, questions related to ‘what’, ‘how often’ and ‘how can I find the time to post’ were unsurprising, coming from attendees still new to the media. It reminded me how new and daunting it all can still be to many.

The lesson there: Consider your audience. It’s very easy for the experienced to become too sophisticated, too technical and, in turn, too complicated. Who are you trying to reach and why? That will help determine the best approach for the ‘how.’ Amid the hashtags and retweets and fancy abbreviations, sometimes for particular targets, simplicity and back to basics can be even more effective.