By Maggie Anderson, Marketing Communications Intern
Investopedia defines social responsibility as “the idea that companies should embrace its social responsibilities and not be solely focused on maximizing profits. Social responsibility entails developing businesses with a positive relationship to the society which they operate in.” This often involves being actively involved in social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. At Fineline, we demonstrate social responsibility by providing educational scholarships and using planet-friendly inks and wind energy.
But I think there is another kind of social responsibility. I am referring to the responsibility we have in our daily interactions through social media. One of Webster’s definitions of “social” is: of or relating to…the interaction of the individual and the group. That suggests reciprocity and a level of “give and take” that is key in using social media. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are powerful tools to start a conversation. That’s the word I keep reading: conversation. We need to use social media to receive information as well as push information out. A recent article from Forbes, “7 Specific Ways to Harness the Power of Social Media,” gives a number of ways to make the most of social media efforts. Ranked #5 is listen to your fans.
Often, companies create content calendars and set them up in Hootsuite to automatically send at peak times of the day. This pre-planned information may have little or no timely relevance. It may be a useful share, a fun quote, or even a relevant tip for customers – and that’s great. But if that’s the only direction information is going, we will miss out on the constant stream of information that our Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and other circles and connections are sharing. Our one-sided information push is like receiving text messages or phone calls that you don’t answer. Or it’s like that one frustrating friend who only ever wants to talk about herself. You are not being a very good friend if you are constantly talking about “me, me, me!” It is these situations that remind me of Toby Keith’s song I Wanna Talk About Me. I bet Toby didn’t know his song could be related so easily to social media for businesses.
Confluence, on online collaboration software, features a helpful visual representation of the dos and don’ts of social media interaction here. Importantly it notes being a good social citizen and being a good listener as must dos. Conversely, it says don’t try to sell people or be too pushy. Let the social media world discover what value you and your company can bring rather than shoveling out constant self-serving messages.
So, keep in mind: in social media there are three types of interactions: speaking, listening, and responding. We should be active doing each in order to be successful using social media in our business-building efforts. Be socially responsible and respond–have conversations!