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Sometimes, based on our personal vantage point in social media, we perceive that adoption and use should be easy. After all, it’s easy to write a tweet or post a Facebook status update, right?
But because a person can individually use social media well, doesn’t mean that the key questions are easily answered for businesses who are considering adopting social media. And sometimes, people perceive that small businesses will have a more difficult time using social media as compared to larger organizations.
Size of an organization isn’t always an indicator of the challenges involved. The complexities rest more specifically in these following issues:
- The clarity of the mission and messages involved. Do you know who you are as an organization and can people easily resonate with what you’re doing?
- Are you willing to listen to those who engage with your messages and adapt your communications to their needs or interests?
- Do your social media and marketing folks share an understanding of your risk tolerance…how far are you willing to push the envelope to relate to your audience? Will you keep doing the same things out of comfort even if it isn’t working?
- Are there decisions that you need to consider to minimize or mitigate possible risks in your communication strategy? If you have people in your agency with conservative risk tolerance, have you thought about how to address these concerns in advance?
Some of the conversations and decisions you will make when adoption social media will be tough. You will hear many excuses about why adopting social media may not be right for your organization, particularly if you sit in the risk-adverse organizations or technologically conservative agencies.
It isn’t always easy to adopt social strategies into a corporate culture, but if you know your business and are insistent on relating to others, it can be done.
One of the best strategies in dealing with risk-adverse organizations is simply identifying the concerns of others and listening. Don’t rush to answer every challenge. Step back and truly listen, commit to finding answers (even if you already know them) and allow a reasonable amount of time to pass to address the concerns. Sometimes, just giving those who resist some time to express their concerns and feel heard can go a long way towards chipping away at resistance.
It may not be easy, but it will be worthwhile if you commit to hearing your customers.
Army General Creighton Abrams once said, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”
Now, I’m not sure how many elephants you’ve eaten, but frankly, it’s one of the things that has never made my bucket list. There is little context for this famous quote; however, I imagine that it must have been said in the context of war which I’m sure seems as daunting as staring down any elephant in the wild.
When to-do lists, personal change aspirations or projects seem overly daunting, it can feel hard to know where to begin. And when you throw elephants into the mix, have you ever thought about where you’d even take that first bite?
Yes, it’s a crazy analogy and when taken to its literal extremes, I’d venture to guess that no human would dare to actually take a bite of an elephant. Would you? Really?
Now, if we turned that elephant into something that we’d actually want to eat, the analogy makes more sense. So, maybe here is the lesson:
- Forget about the size of the overall project,
- Don’t see an elephant, see something that motivates you,
- Segment your work into smaller, bite-sized chunks,
- Prioritize what needs to be done first,
- Reward yourself for small accomplishments because each step is one action closer to your goal, and
- Give yourself a reasonable period of time to experience and learn from the journey.
Many people see working with social media as that huge elephant. Instead of turning that vision into a large, cinnamon-smothered elephant ear, they run in fear. But, if you endeavor to spend just 5 minutes a day, learning one new thing, eventually you will be surprised at what you know about how to use social media.
Don’t worry about the size of the whole communication spectrum. Start with what you are familiar with. Do you use Facebook personally? Learn a little bit more about using for groups and agencies. Consider how you can take that one area and apply it to your business.
And if you’ll commit one hour a month, you can meet other people, talk about one specific area and improve what you know in leaps and bounds. In the coming week, we have the following fun classes:
- Using Your Free WordPress.Com Blog by Aaron Hockley on June 11th,
- Twitter Basics by Cheryl Bledsoe on June 12th,
- Choosing an Engagement Strategy on June 13th, and
- I’m Too Old for Social Media by Kevin Sur on June 13th.
And, if you’re just starting out in social media, you can take “I’m Too Old for Social Media” for free by using promo code: kevinROCKS.
Whether you are seeking to improve your knowledge of social media or working on training for a marathon, forget the whole elephant. You can do this in an encouraging and supportive environment and we’re here to help. Don’t let the fear keep you running away from your goal. Turn around, face it and take steps towards your target. You’ll be glad you did.
I have been watching the Occupy Wall Street activities with great fascination across the nation as a sociologist. And, while I empathize with the frustration that many have about how broken certain aspects of society are, I am most struck by the curiosity of whether or not presence in public parks or assembly, by its nature, will evoke change in our communities.
When this event spread across the nation on October 6th, the initial messages were about economic inequality and the control of wealth by the 1%. Unfortunately, the media coverage and the on-going messages seem now to centralize on whether police and parks agencies will enforce local laws and ordinances and whether anyone will capture episodes of police brutality on video. There is little focus on how the problem of economic inequalities can be resolved.
The message has been lost, despite significant media focus.
There is an important lesson that can be applied to any agency, based on this movement. Just because you have a presence on the internet or in a storefront, doesn’t mean your audience knows what you stand for. Your message and mission must be clear to those who are interested and even those who pass you by on occasion.
If your message to the community becomes diluted, your goals won’t be achieved even if you have the attention of the media or use social media. Stay on task, be clear about the mission of the business you represent and resist the urge to just exist.
Don’t just occupy a space. Use your platform to define, create, and achieve the goals which ignited your passion and dreams in the first place. Otherwise, you are just noise.
Recently, I have been reflecting a lot on my motivations for engaging in certain areas of my life. The basic question comes down to this:
- Why do we do the things that we do?
Sometimes we start certain projects, initiatives or relationships because we are passionate about the goal, outcome or what we hope to achieve. And, over time, that passion can be easily overtaken by feelings of obligation. What we used to “enjoy” doing becomes a habit or other things simply become more important.
Now, you may be wondering if I’m describing the “shiny object distraction” theory. You know, the theory that says the grass will always be greener on the other side or the fact that whatever you are playing with now will soon be overshadowed by a cooler, shinier, brighter object to play with.
In fact, I am not trying to sell you on the new toy, but rather the idea of examining your motivations behind the daily choices that you make to engage or not engage in what you do. When you feel tired, unmotivated or non-committal, it’s time to step back and assess the “why” behind the “what.”
For me personally, the following triggers are key indicators that I’m involved in something that I should reevaluate:
- Feeling unable to contribute or being unsure of where I fit in,
- Disagreement on long-term goals or outcomes of a situation or project,
- Lack of relationships or empathy among participants, or
- Feeling that I’m acting more out of obligation than desire.
Now, these aren’t the reasons for why we act, but rather give insight as to when we should ask ourselves the “why” question and perhaps reconsider whether there is another path or way to hearken back to our original motivation and inspiration.
The application for this thought is far-reaching across many different scenarios from your career choice to your volunteer opportunities. Consider the difference between an inspired employee and those just punching the clock. The same consideration can be seen online, too, for agencies who care about their presence in social media and those who are just programming a few tweets or completing an obligatory post.
One of my favorite movies is the Dead Poets Society with the following exchange between Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) and his students:
[Keating stands on his desk]
John Keating: Why do I stand up here? Anybody?
Dalton: To feel taller!
John Keating: No!
[Dings a bell with his foot]
John Keating: Thank you for playing Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.
Is your vision stuck, are you growing habitual or are you walking through the motions of a certain relationship without inspiration? If so, take a moment to ask yourself what inspired you early on in the project and if you can rediscover that original love. Something got your attention when you first committed. Evaluate your motivations, write them down on a sticky note so that you can remember when times grow tough and be sure that you’re choosing what you do for all the right reasons.
Too often, in our information-rich society, we set goals and aim to be better than everyone else. Self-help books, gurus and “winning” strategies ask that we constantly challenge ourselves to run faster, climb higher and be the best person that we can be.
But, if we abide by that advice, we can become self-focused sometimes at the expense of others. We take for granted the power we all have to encourage and nurture the skills, talents and experiences of others.
It is important to realize, however, that encouragement takes many forms. While traditionally, we might describe encouragement as a verbal comment of support, consider the many ways that we can lift the spirits of others:
- Being there for a friend during a tough time, not offering judgment or advice,
- Trusting someone to complete a task without criticizing or telling them HOW to do it best,
- Recognizing talent & abilities in others and making connections that will help them apply their skills in a more magnificent way,
- Helping people achieve their dreams and lifelong goals,
- Asking how you can help when you see work that needs to be done or better yet, pitching in to assist without needing to be asked,
- Sending a unsolicited compliment or letter of recognition when you see a job that is well done, or
- Seeking to promote others instead of yourself.
While kind words are always welcome, kind actions lend a more genuine sense of encouragement to others. When we fail to encourage the spirits of those we encounter or seek only to promote our own well-being, we risk contributing to an apathetic culture or an environment that can seem cold and uncaring to others.
Consider today whether your actions seek to encourage others. If they don’t, you just might be limiting the possibilities of those around you.
Today, my team embarked upon an ambitious office project in my emergency management program: clearing out years of stored paperwork.
As a public agency, we are attentive to the state’s archiving requirements which cause us to retain about 7 years worth of records; however, it is not unusual to find documents in my office that are about 15-16 years old.
Despite promises of a paperless society, it is easy to retain paper even when you also have electronic copies of the same document. As projects conclude and are printed in booklet formats or placed into 3-ring binders, they find their home on a shelf and are rarely called into service again.
This caused me to consider something particular tonight. By nature, we are a culture of collectors. We collect paper, pictures and objects because at some point in our lives, they defined a special memory or something we desired to hold on to. Often, we use the excuse “I’ll use it later” or “I’ll reread that someday.”
One of the unintended consequences, however, of clutter is that it makes us forget what we have. When we hoard or hold onto things that are really unnecessary, we hide the significance of what is really special. Next time you find yourself sitting in your office or home, I challenge you to consider these two questions:
- How do the things you hold onto define who you are?
- Is your life cluttered with things that don’t really matter?
And because I like to chat about digital life as well, the “things” may not all be on paper. Consider the files on your computer or, in the realm of social media, your fans, friends and followers. Do you save things or follow people because they are special or because you are collecting?
Spend some time this week clearing out the unnecessary, the noise, the papers that mean nothing. And you’ll be able to better appreciate both what you have and who you share it with.
This past week, I had the opportunity to sit on an interview panel to review candidates for open positions at our office. We had a typical list of questions which asked about the candidate’s experience, desire for the position and strengths. The question that popped out at me, however, was a basic one that simply asked candidates to describe a situation that brought out their worst characteristics.
In short, tell us about your weaknesses. This is a common question in many interviews, but I was surprised at the number of candidates who struggled with this question. Some candidates simply could not identify their worst characteristic.
It is important to understand that this question is asked, not to find out the incredible dark secrets of a person’s life, but rather to determine how self-aware people are. It was clear to me, as an observer, that people might fear that a personal revelation might skew their ability to get the job, but it can be just as risky to say that you have no weaknesses.
By not admitting or sharing your weaknesses, you may come across as either oblivious, hiding the truth or arrogantly unable to find an answer to that question. If you are interviewing for a new job or position, consider your weaknesses and be sure that you are in-touch with the realities of who you are.
And if you truly aren’t sure of your weaknesses, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I struggle with most when I’m working?
- What are some goals and areas that I’m currently working on to improve my work performance?
- What distracts me?
- What feedback do I most regularly get from others about my personality or work performance?
- What are some areas of improvement identified in previous job performance evaluations?
If those questions don’t help you answer this question, ask a few of your most trusted friends for some honest feedback about yourself and be willing to listen. It can be a tough question to answer, but if you do not know your kryptonite, it’s time to learn.