For those who are not aware of such events, tweetupâ€™s are nothing more than a meet up of people who use Twitter. The purpose of such events is to network with like minded individuals in person instead of using online tools. Here in Halifax we have a very active social media community which has some rather regular events. They have organized regular events for â€œHalifax Chicksâ€, a semi regular sushi night, and the ever popular 3rd Wednesday event at the Foggy Goggle.
They define the events with a line â€œThis isn’t an industry or professional event, it’s just a bunch of people who like this whole â€˜internetâ€™ thing and want to hang out with like-minded folksâ€ which is exactly what social media/new media is about. It is about bringing people together around a common idea or goal.
At last nightâ€™s 3rd Wednesday event a question was posed to the group, is there a wrong way to use social media? While the question is a valid one to ask it also implies there is a correct way to use social media. Which leads me to think about why you are using social media?
This is where the answer lays in my mind. Social Media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Myspace, etc are about engaging and connecting people in a new way. Twitter is limited to 140 characters per message to get your ideas across. Facebook allows the sharing of video, pictures, and a variety of other information. Blogs are a beast onto their selves. But their fundamental purpose is all the same. The spreading of ideas in an interactive way.
The real power of social media is not in what tools you use – although they can add clarity to your message â€“ but in how you use them. There were many brand experts in attendance last night who made very valuable contributions to the discussion about building a brand using these online tools. Though I think the fundamental principal of engagement was the key to the whole discussion.
Like the discussion that was happening in the room the discussions that happen online are most effective when people engage each other. Discussions where people talk and donâ€™t listen. Well, we all paid our tuition for those! And like the course I took on the romantic poets where I was lectured to for 4 months those conversations did not have an impact like the discussions we had over Feminist Philosophy.
Others made valid points on honesty, authority, and even clarity. All valid points, all worth considering. But how are online discussions different from in person ones in that respect. You can say what you want but if you are being dishonest you will be caught and loose any authority you had. You effectively destroy your message or goal.
So is there a wrong way to use social media? Yes, that is to be disengaged from your potential audience. Is there a right way? Not really, because the varied goals of each user will dictate how they use it. But use, without engagement, is rarely effective. If you are building a brand, personal, corporate, or otherwise, not engaging the people who will give your idea power will prove to be a fruitless endeavor.
What do you think? Is there a right or wrong way to use social media tools?