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Social media is way of life: Why you should be involved

In December, the Aubia Communications Blog will focus on social media. I’m re-using a commentary I wrote three years ago for The Peninsula Warrior to kick things off. I’ll then follow up with posts about getting started in social media for business and taking an extensive look at different platforms. What do you think about social media and how it has shaped today’s business landscape?

Social media is way of life: Why you should be involvedAre you attending a Tweetup this weekend? What is your newest status update on Facebook? How many hits did your video get this week on YouTube? Have you posted your latest photos to Flickr, yet?

If you have no idea what I’m asking, then consider yourself behind the times. If you are a commander or director with Soldiers or employees that fit into the classic questionnaire age category of 18 to 24, and you are clueless to what the capitalized words in the first paragraph mean, consider yourself out of touch with your troops and staff. If you are a parent of school-age children, and you read that first paragraph with a blank stare, then your kids are right when they say you don’t understand them.

Blogs, podcasts, viral videos, texting, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn are just a few examples of this overarching new technology called social media. If you took an informal survey of your younger Soldiers or employees, and your kids if you’re a parent, you would most likely find that an overwhelming majority of them use some form of social media.

I attended a staff meeting a few months ago where I was explaining the channels the Public Affairs Office can use to advertise certain events. When I mentioned the Facebook and Twitter accounts for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, a certain staff sergeant sitting behind me made a snide comment about the use of these social networking sites. After my initial offense to his comment wore off, I began to think how sad of a situation it was.

Here is a person probably in charge of quite a few younger troops. Not only does he not have an idea how social media works and how vital these sites are to communication with his audience, but he is refusing a great opportunity to get his message out to his Soldiers.

Public Relations/Marketing 101 teaches you to send your message through avenues that your target audience is most likely using. Why do you think commercials for power tools air during football games? Or cleaning products are mostly advertised during afternoon soap operas? To reach your younger Soldiers or employees, interact where they are, where they spend a great deal of their time – like a social networking site.

Maybe this particular staff sergeant doesn’t care to have any credibility with younger Soldiers, but I doubt that’s the case. I’m willing to bet he’s probably just like many others who are stuck in their ways and think you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

That mentality of believing social media is just for the new generation is what keeps many from using an invaluable communication tool. Social media is not just for the “young folk.” Parents are signing up to be more involved with their children, senior-level executives have online vlogs (Google it) to communicate with their employees, politicians blog for their constituents about pending bills, and many people are deciding it’s easier to use social networking sites than traditional methods to keep in touch with friends and family.

Social media is way of life: Why you should be involvedMy husband and I attended a wedding Saturday night where we sat with cousins of the bride. One of the gentlemen at the table told us how is 86-year-old father had started using the Internet after he became a widower. This 86-year-old man who came up doing a job before computers were a mainstay in the office found relatives through social networking sites in Slovakia. He met them for the first time during their initial visit to the United States this past summer. There’s a new trick for you.

You don’t have to become the next Ashton Kutcher on Twitter; you don’t even have to like social media. You do, however, have to learn and understand it if you want to stay credible to your audiences and marketable in your business. I’m not crazy about texting when I can actually talk through a conversation, but I do it so I stay current and don’t have to SMH @ texts I receive.

Need more proof that social media is here to stay? The U.S. Army lifted the ban on use of many Social Media sites via government computers in 2009. Nearly all Army posts are now on social media platforms.

Learn to use and live social media. Experiment with posting photos to Flickr and Tweeting about your organization’s latest undertaking. Subscribe to blogs and leave comments. Test the social media waters, and see for yourself the difference it can make in your professional and personal communications and relationships.

photo credit: Matt Hamm via photopin cc

photo credit: Cakehead Loves via photopin cc

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One Comment to "Social media is way of life: Why you should be involved"

  1. […] Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media networks would give their citizens. They were left behind, struggling to understand how the mighty had […]

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