Social Media: Invest in Relationships

Organizations that invest in social media today are the organizations that will thrive in the future. It doesn’t take expensive research to know this, and it’s becoming more and more clear everyday.

Social at the Core

Facebook is now the largest collective network in human history. Five hundred million users around the world and growing. Twitter continues to experience unprecedented growth with over 190 million users. Much of their success now, and much of their anticipated future success is rooted in making ‘social’ core to user experience, not ‘bolted’ on as it were as with other user experiences.

Everywhere we go, be it social purpose conferences like the Social Venture Institute, Web of Change, gatherings like Greenest City or straight up social media love-ins like Social Media Camp, there continues to be a palpable excitement and energy around the ongoing social experience that social media enables.

Understanding where this enthusiasm comes from is vital to understanding how it can serve the purpose of your organization. In our lives, when we make investments in relationships, when we cultivate connection, empathy and listening, we increase our capacity for contributing meaningfully in our communities and relationships. We understand this from our own experiences. Our enthusiasm for social media is rooted in the deeper potential of its ability to connect us to each other and to cultivate more meaningful relationships with one another.

Inside the excitement about social media lie these very fundamental experiences that delight users and fuel a sense of shared excitement. You’ll approach your own social media strategy with more clarity if you understand the inner nature of what is driving it.

Building Social Capital

It’s easy and cheap to dip your toe into social media. But building social capital with your audiences takes real commitment, time and money. How do we know if it’s worth it? Can you quantify that a capital investment in social media will produce in results? There are smart people who are able build advanced financial models, make reasonable assumptions and yes, even cost-benefit return, but here is the very simple thing;

Social media when done right is not just another marketing action plan item. It’s a fundamental investment in the most important asset you’re ever going to have as a business, organization, or for you personally. It’s an investment in relationships.

Social media platforms can help create unprecedented opportunity to transform your organization and to communicate and engage with audiences in new ways. How you do it should be informed by this understanding of what attracts people to the experience itself. Regardless of your organization’s commitment to engagement, building relationships, cultivating connection with others, listening and facilitating conversation are vital to personal well being and they are vital for organizational well being. Even if those relationships are “weak ties vs. strong ties”, they are a form of relationship, and they matter in a world where trust is at such a premium.

Real Work, Rich Dividends

Building these relationships with social media is work, real work, and it takes time. It takes intent, understanding and resources to effectively engage with your audiences using social tools, but the work of social media will pay rich dividends for any organization that takes the path of investing in relationships. It’s what has always been at the foundation of any business or institution’s success, and is even more vital today.

This post was originally written for and published on Communicopia.com

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherroy

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  1. […] While your authentic work is a valuable asset in the world of social engagement, you still need to get good at social media by understanding the subtle, and not so subtle landscape of the culture of this movement. While their are numerous strategies and tactics with which to approach it, one thing is clear; social media isn’t just about you. It’s about engaging and building relationships. […]

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