Social Media mishaps
My take on the HotSource debate
On 31st May I took part in the first panel debate of the Hot Source digital community. Hot Source celebrates and promotes digital creativity within Norfolk, getting people to work together, share ideas, and be inspired by what is happening in our corner of the world.
The topic for debate was inspired by a LinkedIn discussion and debate where we talked about whether it is right or wrong to automatically link different social media accounts together. This rapidly descended into a heated debate about what social media should be used for, what the correct etiquette is for the channel, and whether there are certain boundaries that should not be overstepped.
Rather than summarise the whole debate, here are a few thoughts that came out from the debate.
Content is key
Paul Hill, currently of the EDP, made the point that it doesn't matter how often you are talking or how generic you are with your words, your content is what will make you stand out and be noticed. A cheery "hello" is not as impactful as "hello, fancy some free wine", as an example. And if you are using a social media channel to simply pass on banal information, your relevance to your followers will diminish quite quickly.
The majority of the debate centred around this theme, that consistency, relevancy, and thinking about what you are doing are the three tactics which will help you do well within social media.
Social can be a broadcast medium
One of the areas where there was slight disagreement (but only slight). Social media is often seen as talking to one person, as if you are in a personal conversation. Whilst this is sometimes true, there is also the great opportunity to get a message out to a large number of people. Someone like Stephen Fry with millions of followers can make a real impact by promoting a message. Or an influential user like The Oatmeal, who regularly takes down websites by accident, simply by suggesting that a website is good.
Whilst social, particularly in a customer service context, should be seen as a way to deliver personalised messages and understand your customers, it can also be used to get a message out quickly and to a wide audience.
Social channels should be seperated
One of the main questions of the debate - should you treat every channel the same, posting the same content across multiple channels? The simple answer is no, as each medium has its different strengths. You should not treat YouTube the same as Tumblr, Facebook the same as Twitter. Whilst they have similar characteristics, and yuo probably have a similar audience on each one, use them for their own strengths.
A sub question of this is whether you should cross-post the same content on sites like LinkedIn. Personally, I say do not post exactly the same content. Appreciate who you are posting to and what they will find relevant. If you have content to post and one forum is full of business people, they may want a different context or wording to people who are experts in the digital industry. It is suitable to link to the same content, but make sure that you have made it relevant to the audience you are talking to.
Agreement does not equal debate
Sadly, one of the key contributors to the LinkedIn discussion pulled out. This meant that there was no counter-view to bring to the deabte, and it was a partial exercise in agreeing and passing off information to people, rather than a true debate.
Turning this round to a social media lesson, always make sure that you have something to contribute and to add to the conversation. Tweeting someone to say "I agree" might be nice, but does not add anything to the overall conversation. How can you add something new, or help to grow the conversation, debate, and relationship further.
Overall the debate was well received by the audience, and was one of the few where I have been to where the number of questions far outweighed the amount of time we had to talk. Fingers crossed that Hot Source will decide to have another debate in the future.