Let me tell you something about yourself.

If you're a person that says you hate social media, chances are, you don't.

You don't hate Facebook. You don't hate Twitter. You don't hate LinkedIn. You don't hate Pinterest. You don't hate YouTube.

What you hate, is how people use them.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., are nothing more than tools. Just like a telephone, they allow you to communicate with people you want to communicate with. All they are is various methods of connecting. Most likely, what actually bothers you when you look at Facebook, Twitter and the like, is how those tools are used.

Let me guarantee you that if you regularly picked up your phone to call your friend and did nothing but complain, chances are, that friend would eventually start screening your calls and not responding. You might even lose the friend. Additionally, if you constantly call them up just to let them know what you had for dinner, you present useless information and we all have enough of that to sift through on a daily basis already. Furthermore, if all you want to do with your friend on the phone is to promote your company, your friend will feel you are disingenuous and don't care about them.

So if those rules about phone usage are so easy to agree with, why do the rules seem to change when we get online?

That kind of usage isn't Facebook's fault - it's ours.

And it's also possible that it's your organization's problem too. We have GOT TO stop treating social media as anything other than an extension of customer, donor and constituent relationships, and good relationships aren't all about you.

This is why every single social media strategist worth their salt will start their recommendations with the first step in any effective communications strategy - listening.

Listening forces you to get audience-centric and it has the wonderful side-effect of making you engage like a human being when you do.

Problem is, if you're not even on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platforms, you're not only not pushing messages out, you're not listening either.

Stop blaming the mediums and start strategically engaging them to extend your relationship with your audience.

Andrew VanderPloeg
Andrew VanderPloeg Guest Blogger, Consultant

Andrew served at Bark for over 20 years before recently taking over the role of Vice President of Marketing & Communications at ShareWord, one of our favorite organizations.