Gagging on Social Media
Speaking truth to power about social media
The Revolution recognizes that social media has indisputable power. But we’re not yet convinced about its percentage of results.
You hear about fantastic numbers following the Kony video, Gangnam Style, the Arab Spring, celebrities, and here in LA— the food trucks that tweet out their daily locations. We know about the success of the Obama campaign and just this week we heard about the fallen Cardinal Mahoney’s taking to the online space to defend his actions.
Repressive Regimes and Viral Magic
No doubt in many cases, social media is a key player when producing the desired results. Of course it helps if you live in a repressive regime and use Twitter as clandestine media, if the news is reporting on your issue or cause, if you have an activist community already in place such as a big national church, if you are running for President of the United States, if you’re famous for one thing or another, or if fate embraces you and your video magically goes wildly viral.
Social media has indeed become one of the lauded markers of this new era. It has millions of loyal followers—many of them obsessive-compulsive users, who are addicted and often choose to post at 3am. Thousands of people are making money off it—evolving it daily, writing books, blogs, speaking and consulting about how to use and measure it.
Becoming a social media star
Everybody and every entity dreams of being a social media star. Even The Revolution.
But becoming active on social media for the purpose of creating results is a huge undertaking.
On Twitter you have to turn yourself into an attractive personality, tweet out 3-4 times daily, link to important stories, read huge scrolling tweets that can appear in the hundreds every few minutes, follow others, search for the right people to follow, thank people for following you and participate in Tweet chats at least once a week.
On Facebook, you now have to turn your personal page into a Like page, post at least once a day, read other people’s posts, throw up the right photos, create events and find the right people to follow.
On LinkedIn, you have to fill out your profile so it reaches 100 points, join multiple LinkedIn groups, read the postings on the groups, contribute your thoughts and browse influential people’s networks to pick off their followers.
Never ending spiral
Add to this now joining Pinterest, Google Communities, creating an About Me page and waiting for next week’s innovation that can change everything. Also, you better find someone to do analytics and research how many people are now following your blog, where they come from, how long they remain on the page and whether they are referring it out to other people. Then you have to tinker to make it all work better.
Oh, I forgot the emails from all the nonprofit social media bloggers such as Beth Kanter and Katya Andresen, who are blogging from every conference on Earth. (The only thing that makes you appear more in demand than blogging from conferences in Rio, Nairobi, Beirut and Bali is being at a Ted Conference in Long Beach.) They offer a new method and insight a day, making you question whether you have already been obsoleted and are doing any of this correctly.
And the results?
If you want to be connected to a new era, you don’t dare not do this.
But the big question which no one seems to be asking, remains: For the vast majority of us and for all the noprofits trafficking in social media, what kind of results is the investment really producing, beyond a lot of event attendance and activity?
Is it helping to produce fundraising results? Advocacy results? Meaningful participation? Is it creating the changes in the world that nonprofits promise?
For now, the Revolution will place its bets for creating the above results upon critical thinking, creativity, engagement, involvement, big ideas, individual exchanges and Seizing the Conversation. If social media can service those actions effectively, then it’s worth the struggle. But the jury is still out.
Please make your comments below.