The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw
The traditional mindsets in corporate communications come from the historical use of traditional media. Without return channels, the focus of communication is around reach and frequency of the messages to influence an audience. There is little if any discussion in traditional media unless you make it happen. The speaker has control. The mindset focuses on perfecting a message and deploying it at the right time and channel with minimal distraction.
Increasingly, you see discussion of tips and tricks on how social media can be used in this broadcast way. The mindset of traditional media is being carried across to social. In a related point, we still see debate on whether individuals or organisations should use this channel for their outbound messages. Many senior executives see social as another optional channel for their outbound messages.
However, social media is not a one-way medium. It is more than a two-way medium too. Conversations move in all directions in the network at the choice of the recipient. That’s more than an extra or useful feature. It changes the game.
Suddenly real engagement of your audience matters. Social media is not just another way to get a message out. Your audience’s actions to reply comment and share are critical to how your message spreads in a network. Messages without engagement die quickly. Engagement can dramatically change the meaning of the message.
We need an engagement mindset in a social media communication strategy, internally or externally. Social media is most valuable as a way to connect, engage, collaborate and build on ideas with the feedback and input of others. Social media enables community building, advocacy and creating real movements. Asking for input shows respect, deepens relationships and builds connection.
Importantly, that engagement goes on whether you choose to participate or not. The network of customers, employees and community does not require your presence or your message to discuss you or what they want to discuss. They are in control and you need to respect that.
To get the most out of social media remember to focus on the engagement to create real communication between the members in your community.