Tuesday, February 7, 2012

All Hat, No Cattle in Social Media

Buck Jones With Big Hat via Fine Art America
I've got several articles whirling round in my head. One of them about how Social Media 1.0 is over, one about how being average will send you to the bottom of the pile, one about knowing your brand. I've been thinking of them in relation to being an introvert, and I'm also thinking about the way the Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen debacle played out. How do all these things fit together?

Probably the best opinion on "Komen-gate" as it relates to online advocacy and nonprofits is at NPQ.

Active Listening is In, Bombast is Out

The editorial makes the point that the days when you could operate in a vacuum are over. The things you say that used to go no further than what you could reasonably control are gone. John Kyle found that out when he stated on the Senate floor that abortion services were "well over 90%" of what Planned Parenthood does. Social media lost absolutely no time in correcting him.

Also over are the days when people Tweeted the heck out of things and 'liked' stuff just because they enjoyed hitting that button on a website and seeing the item pop up in their feed on FB. Everyone is more experienced now and looking for value. There was never a time in social media where you could market the shoes off a product on Twitter or anywhere else, and the watchwords remain connectivity, transparency, engagement.

Personal branding means that you know what you stand for and that what you do online remains consistent with that view of you. That means you have to take a look at yourself. Introspection isn't a trait extroverts are known for; since they gain energy from being around others, they don't usually budget 'alone time' and you can't ask yourself deep, Jack Handey kind of questions at a Superbowl party. According to this and that survey, most people are extroverts, which is why we've always valued outgoing traits in our society, but a willingness to do self-examination is essential to good leadership, so extroverts will have to squeeze it into their schedules.

The Future of You and Your Small Nonprofit

Seth Godin says that we're in a 'forever' recession and that the way we think about work has to change as quickly as the environment in which we now labor has changed and continues to change. To be valued more in the workplace, you have to help others see you as different and unique.

This viewpoint bothers me a bit because setting yourself apart from others to the extent that you gather more approbation and authority in your area seems to me like an American Idol kind of endeavor. Everyone wants to be seen as special, but how many really are? Maybe what we should be saying is that if we've done the self-examination, we know what our strengths and weaknesses are and we play to our strengths to differentiate from others, while working on our weaknesses.

What I'm getting out of all these thoughts is that things have really changed. I know, big duh. But being obvious doesn't make me wrong. For the cause you care about to move forward and do well, you're going to have to:

  • be fluent in social media whether you want to or not
  • deeply understand what your np's brand is (and yours as you represent it)
  • commit to being engaged online
  • be generous with your online connections
  • be honest about your intentions and communicate them clearly

I'm not saying that if you do all these things, your np will be a runaway success and a media star. I'm pretty much saying that this is what will have to be part of the every day for you. It won't be enough to have a good cause if you don't understand the people who care about it (I'm looking at you, Susan G. Komen Foundation) or if you can't communicate your passion enough to get others to care about it.

Personally, I'm kinda jazzed about the way things are changing. The environment seems pretty tasty to an introvert like me who likes doing social good. Maybe I became interested in social media in the first place because it seemed homey to me. In any case, whether you call them posers, people who front, or 'all hat and no cattle', the folks who like to pretend rather than deliver will, I think, become scarcer. There's no room for them in social media and now social media is nearly everywhere.

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