Social Media is Full of Contradiction

AFAC, Social Media, Trefor Munn-Venn, Business Coach, Business Coach Ottawa, PBCA, TrustWhen talking about social media, some people will say “Just get started, it’s free” while others will tell you how time and resources intensive it is.

Some will say “Anyone can do it so jump right in” while others are telling you that “You need to have a clearly defined plan.”

For all the discussion and all the contradiction, you still face the question of “What do I do”. You’ve decided that this is the direction you need to take—or maybe you’ve already taken it—and now you need to act.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to present a keynote at the Australasian Fire & Emergency Services Authorities Council or AFAC. This group of 1,500+ senior leaders feel great pressure to be using social media to serve their communities but want to make sure that their social media is operating at the same level of excellence as everything else they do.

There were a few key messages I gave them and they apply to your organization just as much as they apply to the AFAC members.

Be Clear on Your Outcomes

For all the energy that organizations put into their social media, most fail to take the time to clearly define what they’re actually trying to accomplish. And this is true for all sizes of organizations in all sectors—maybe it applies to you.

Some of the Fire Chiefs I spoke with in Australia immediately resisted discussing social media. They’d heard all the hype but just couldn’t see how it would help them. But when we changed the discussion to talk about the biggest issues they faced, the conversations took an interesting turn.

They talked about doing a better job educating the community about how to prepare for wildfires or what they could do to support one another. Others talked about how difficult it was to get residents who live in high-risk areas to create clear emergency plans for themselves and their families. Some raised the high costs of printing flyers, pamphlets, brochures, and workbooks and the challenges of distributing them.

These are all activities that can be enhanced, simplified, and made more cost effective by using social media. And when they started to see how social media would actually help them solve their problems, the conversation changed dramatically.

Go One-at-a-Time

It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing your attention on building a large audience. We’ve been using that kind of approach for a long time in other media. We’d aggregate an audience and then keep pushing our content at them until our message finally got through and they bought our product or used our service.

But social media is different. It’s SOCIAL. It’s inherently about the relationships we build with other people—not just other markets. When this really starts to sink in, we realize that we have to change how we approach our social media activity.

It doesn’t cut it to just look at inundating people with ads. We need to connect. We need to be human. We need to reach out to people one-at-a-time and get to know them. We need to listen and we need to respond.

Now, you might be wondering, “Isn’t this a lot of work?” The answer is “Yes.” And you simply have to know this going in. The challenges are not really in coming up with lots of messages to send it. The challenges are in building genuine relationships with real people.

The better question is this, “Is it worth it?”

We believe the answer is a clear “Yes”.

Think about your best clients. Think about the ones you value the most and the ones who value you. Think about the ones who willingly talk about their experiences with your organization. The ones who encourage others to talk to you and find out more about what you do.

These people aren’t just involved in transactional relationships with you. These are people who feel a tangible sense of connection with you and what you do. These are the people who build your business—today and in the future.

Take Trust to the Next Level

For all the talk about trust, most people don’t really know how to build it.

If you think showing up on time and keeping your promises is enough, I’m here to tell you those are table stakes and on their own just don’t cut it.  We’ve talked about trust in the past and you can look into it in more detail.

But here are a few key things to remember:

  • Don’t ever call yourself trusted—Deciding whether or not your are trusted is always up to the other person. You can work to be trustworthy and you can talk about how to do that within your organization, but the final decision-maker about whether or not you are trusted never lies with you, it always lies with others.
  • Focus on the little things—Trust gets built as our subconscious builds a picture about someone or something. It pieces together all the little things we’ve heard and seen and combines it with all the other things we believe, to create an image of you. If you’re not paying attention to the little things, the picture that forms may not be an accurate representation of who you are.
  • Consistency goes a long way—There are times when we feel that we’re going through the same motions over and over. Have you ever felt this? And you start to wonder is all this repetition good? Should I be changing things up? Making things more dynamic? Well, that consistency is reassuring to many people. For example, people will look at your social media and your larger digital presence to gauge how the rest of the company operates. If you’re erratic or sporadic in your social media, what message do you think that sends?

If you’re ready to use the full potential of social media, then start with these fundamentals. Get focused on what you really want, connect with the individuals you want to serve, and then get serious about earning their trust.


Trefor Munn-VennBusiness Coach Ottawa – President & CEO of Rhapsody Strategies
“I think we all get in to business to make a difference. We want to do something meaningful. We want to support our communities, our families, or help others.” If I could provide one piece of business advice it would be this: Get clear on why you’re in business. We see a common pattern where people enter their career or launch a company to accomplish something fantastic — to make a real impact on others. But then they lose their way. Or maybe it would be better to say that they lose their why. When you’re clear on why you’re doing things, you have clarity about how to act and what to do. And your market knows what you’re trying to say to them and what you want them to do. It’s transformative when this happens.