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Gettin' Social

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A member of my ever growing network of contacts recently whispered into my ear, virtually speaking, that a certain major Baltimore institution was cutting way back on communications staff, particularly writers, seeking instead marketing pros with “social media savvy.”

At first glance, this makes perfect sense. As a colleague noted, you can easily outsource writing jobs; you can’t swing a dead laptop without hitting a freelancer these days. But professionals with marketing backgrounds AND knowledge of the social media world (oooh, scary!), well, that’s another matter.

So what’s this mean? The times they are still a’changin’, as I believe I’ve noted with a slight musical hum in my voice, right here in this blog. And there’s some irony…”this blog.” Not that long ago it seems if someone said did I know what a blog was, I’d have said, “Sure, it’s kind of like a swamp. A bog?”

If you’re not online you don’t exist so you better get online right away. Right?

Yes, and no.

In today’s world where a casual comment can go internationally viral and destroy a person’s career, level whole cities and lead to the overthrow of dictatorial regimes, you can’t be too careful these days.

It’s like jumping into a pond without check to see if there’s a very large boulder just under the surface. You might hit the water and be fine or you might “hit” the water and be a paraplegic for the rest of your life, if you don’t break your neck.

As always, the first question has to be, WHY do I want to be involved in social media? How is it going to help achieve my goals and objectives? You never want to do ANYTHING for the reason, “Well, because my competitor is doing it.” Well, what if you’re competitor is an idiot? It’s like when you whined to your parents about why you couldn’t stay out all night with your hoodlum friends and shoot firecrackers and explore the beginnings of teenage alcoholism: “If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?”

Social media isn’t going anywhere, so first thing you’ve got to do is get acquainted with it. It’s like learning how to drive. You don’t just jump in a car for the first time in your life and TAKE OFF. You go to a parking lot somewhere with an older sibling, a good friend, a parent, and you PRACTICE.

Same thing applies with social media. Visit FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, etc. What do you find? What it’s like? Do you see possibilities for communication for your client that you can’t achieve in traditional ways? Where’s the potential? Where are the pitfalls?

Social media is like a time machine. The time machine doesn’t move in space, it moves in TIME; same thing with social media. Chances are whatever social media may morph into in the years to come it will involve sitting in front of a machine of some sort.

Bottomline for today: don’t ignore social media, don’t be afraid of it. Sneak up to it. Stick a toe in. Ask others about it. Hire a consultant if you have to. Assess each platforms strengths and weaknesses and see how they might be help your client. THEN give it a go.

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