Magazine article Communication World

Are You a 'Social Media Evangelist' or a Communicator? It's OK to Be Addicted to Social Media in Your Personal Life-But Think Twice before You Try to Convert Everyone in Your Workplace

Magazine article Communication World

Are You a 'Social Media Evangelist' or a Communicator? It's OK to Be Addicted to Social Media in Your Personal Life-But Think Twice before You Try to Convert Everyone in Your Workplace

Article excerpt

Admit it: You're a social media junkie. You're hooked, and you know it.

It started with a harmless Facebook page that you barely paid attention to. But then you fell in with a bad group of "friends," and before you knew it, Facebook was nothing more than a gateway drug to other social media.

And now you're an addict.

You jump into the Twitter stream before you jump out of bed. You check to see if anyone retweeted you during the night before you even get dressed. You update your Facebook status while you're on the bus, in the grocery store and sitting in the carpool line. You've actually updated your status while you were supposed to be listening to your spouse, haven't you?

Maybe you're even a hardcore social media (SM) addict. Maybe you play Mafia Wars and grow your crops in FarmLife while you tend to your Twitter lists, comment on blogs, send people virtual drinks and take 45 quizzes a day.

You've Facebooked under the influence, tweeted while driving and blogged in bed.

It's OK. I'm not judging. In fact, I'm right there with you. (Except for you hard-core addicts: If you're killing imaginary Mafia criminals on the same day you're raising fake crops on a make-believe farm and poking your friends, it may be time to get some help.)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I used to wake up in the morning and reach for my wife. Now I reach over my wife to grab my iPhone from the nightstand. Before I get out of bed, I check Facebook, Twitter, my blog and several other blogs. I read a couple of newspapers online, then I recheck Twitter. Then I get out of bed.

We're all turning into social media junkies. When I teach a seminar or speak at a conference, I usually ask how many people in the crowd are on Facebook and Twitter. A year ago, maybe half the people were on Facebook, and less than 10 percent were on Twitter. These days, 99 percent of the room are on Facebook, and about 75 percent are on Twitter.

Now, all of this love for social media among communicators is great. Social media are going to be a big part of how people communicate in the future (in fact, they already are). But this infatuation with social media has a downside: namely, the danger that we are so in love with SM in our private lives that we will want to convince our organizations to start using them right now. Before we can help our organizations use these tools properly, we damn well better understand them ourselves.

Some of us (and you know who you are) are turning into social media evangelists---wide-eyed, drooling, SM zombies who want to push our organizations at breakneck speed into the social media waters without thinking things through. I get calls every week from someone who heard me speak and who wants me to help them create a "social media plan." Some of these folks don't even have a communication plan, but they still want help diving into social media.

And the dangerous element to this is that social media evangelists, in their rush to embrace social media, forget one simple fact: The things social media stand for are in direct opposition to what most organizations are used to, in terms of how to publish and share information. Here are just a few of the differences:

* With social media, everyone is a publisher. Organizations are used to being the publisher, the gatekeeper of information. They decide what to say, how to say it and when to release it.

* SM leads to instant updates and instant conversation. …

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