Maybe We Shouldn’t Call it Social Media

This post is about how we, social media advocates, can better effectively convince those who are not sold on the values of social media. It’s not a post that offers definitive answers, but more of just personal observation on this matter. As a reader, maybe you can offer some suggestions on how to approach this topic.

In my casual conversations where I share the values of  social media, or in formal meetings where we discuss how social media fits into our organization, I sometimes find myself faced with puzzled looks or skepticism about the value of these tools as they relate to our business needs. Unfortunately, just like golf, social media is one of those things in life where it’s hard to explain what it is, what the experience is about, until one actually swings the clubs or in the case of social media, actually use them. What I have observed though is that as much as I would like to speak about what it means to me, how I have greatly benefited from it as a big part of my professional development,  or how I have used it  in my various professional roles (as an org advisor, as a manager who must provide professional development for my staff, as a tech leader who looks at trends, etc), I’m still talking about me and in probably in the language/terminologies those I speak with probably do not fully understand.  This is like a developer  talking in techie jargon to a business user.  Ultimately, to be effective, I’ve found that I need to look at it from the other person’s perspective in the language they understand and what matters to them.

Instead of describing what social media is and what we can do with them (e.g. send short messages on twitter, post statuses in facebook, etc),  maybe talk about it in the context of our business and from the interests of who we are speaking with. I work in student affairs and what matters to the decision makers include the following topics: outreach, enrollment, retention, wellness, academics, quality of student life, student engagement. If we frame the discussion of social media in the context of the topics I mentioned, then I think we can be more effective in convincing those that do not see the potential benefits of social media.

How do you think we can be more effective in communicating the value of social media?