Is Social Media Scary

25 Oct

Over the past few months, I have been on the phone quite a bit. Dialing for dollars as they say — or, more prosaically, making a lot of sales calls. This has given me the opportunity to speak to a fairly wide range of associations, and I’ve learned a lot about attitudes towards social media. An interesting one that has come up a few times is the fact that some members fine social media scary.

At first this seemed odd to me, after all so many people use Facebook and other services already, how could having social media which has been designed specifically to support member activities be scary? But upon reflection, it makes sense to me. A lot of it is due, I think, to the amount of hype surrounding social media. This does two things. First, it means that the term social media is applied to a broad range of services and activities. So, if you aren’t familiar with these things, then it can seem overwhelming. Second, there’s the potential for a sort of peer pressure in which you think you should be using these systems because everyone else is. But that pressure is just going to create discomfort for new users.

What can we do? To answer this, I think we have to go back to the question of why we want our members to use social media. Social media is a tool, not a goal. We need to start with a clear understanding of the value that we want to provide to our members. Social media comes into play when it is the best, most effective way to deliver that value.

When that happens social media can be demystified. It won’t be scary any more because members won’t see it as social media, but just as a way to learn, or find interesting information, or share expertise, or whatever it was that was the real goal. And the end result will be members who are more engaged and more satisfied.

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