Sunday, May 30, 2010

Social Media and the Art of Honesty

In sleight of hand we learn that most people can be manipulated pretty simply, by a fast patter and flashy misdirection.

Recently, I saw a major corporation try this tactic using Social Media. Instead of addressing a major problem, they used their Twitter feed to throw a shiny, meaningless reward at their audience in return for behavior that is, at the very least distasteful, at the most, debasing.

Social Media is not sleight-of-hand. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you cannot fake the "Social" part of Social Media. Either you are holding meaningful conversations with the people who care about your business, or you are not.

When you decide to engage your audience through Social Media, you must be willing to *engage* them. Boilerplate answers and cheesy misdirection will not only not help, they will actively hurt your reputation. And, whether you are on a particular Social Network or not, your audience is. Poorly conceived responses, sleight-of-hand PR, and any negativity will spread like wildfire. You cannot afford a hissy fit on Social Media, you cannot assume your audience are children and will be pacified with a cookie (as the major corporation above did.)

Good Social Media is the Art of Honesty. Talk about things you know about and love with other people who love them too. Be as real as you can, be as honest and upfront as you can. Consider how you would feel about being asked to do the things you are asking of your audience.

Take Responsibility for your communications and practice the Art of Honesty. You won't sway everyone, but you'll gain the respect and support of many - which is the true value of Social Media.
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