Social Media is Personal

Mindcamp Random

by Russell Thomas

networkedI was having lunch with a sales manager of a hotel group the other day when I asked her what sets her chain apart from the others. She immediately began spouting talking points about how they had more rooms and properties than everyone else.

“Let me stop you there,” I said. “How many rooms you have means nothing to me. I experience hotel rooms one at a time.”

She took a second run at the question and went down another path that turned out to be even more divergent from the destination I was seeking.

“What I really want to hear,” I began, “is that your properties are going to offer me the best hotel-staying experience, bar none. We guarantee it.” The simplicity and elegance of a statement like that is going to catch my attention. Why? Because it directly targets my desire to get personal value.

Have you been able to find personal value in social media? You won’t feel comfortable swimming in this pool until you do, no matter how hard you try.

About 5 years ago I told my marketing and communications staff at work that I didn’t care if they were on Facebook and Twitter personally. I really didn’t. But I ABSOLUTELY needed them to be on those platforms professionally, as that would be the only way they were going “to get it”. One by one, they jumped into the social media pool, and have grown to be proficient swimmers, able to navigate turbulent waters and avoid the odd shark that come along.

Russell and DylanMy son Dylan had his first major surgery in 2008. He has mild cerebral palsy and needed to have several leg bones realigned and his foot rebuilt. He was going to be in the hospital for many weeks, and I wanted to share his journey with my large family spread across the country. The most effective way I found to do this in those pre-blogging days was by posting dispatches as Facebook notes. Each day I would sit by his bedside, capturing nuances of life in the hospital and chronicling his recovery. The “Dylan Surgery Adventures” ended up finding an audience far beyond my family, tapping into an emotional place that resonated strongly for many.

“Your hospital musings have more depth and intense reality than anything else I have read on Facebook,” shared one reader.

Discovering that social media was an excellent conduit from my writing to an interested audience was of tremendous personal value to me, and ultimately led to the creation of the Middle Age Bulge blog. What began as a personal weight loss incentive mechanism (modeled after the lady who blogged her way through the Julia Child’s cookbook, the subject of the movie Julie & Julia), morphed into a creative writing platform that to date has spawned 670 articles and almost 200,000 page views.

If I only wrote a blog post and nothing else, the number of readers would honestly be in the single digits. However, by posting a compelling lead-in hook on Twitter and Facebook, I find an audience that ranges from hundreds to thousands. The value to me in unquestionable.

Russell Thomas presents Social Media Matters: How paying attention with intention makes a world of difference at Mindcamp XI.

While we’re on the subject…