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Leveraging Social Media: A Legacy Move

People still discuss the news and television episodes at the water cooler, but much of that conversation is a result of social media.

by Deedra Abboud in Relationships, Social Views, Solutions
May 24, 2016 0 comments

I spent almost ten years as a civil rights and community advocate in Arizona at a time when it was not easy, after September 11th. We were dependent upon networking at community events to collect emails for our email lists and press releases to get our messages out. Half the time we were not sure if people even opened the emails and all our hopes hinged on the mainstream media responding to our press releases – which was unpredictable.

I was successful at getting the attention of the local as well as some national and international media. I built a solid reputation and name recognition among local communities.

When I opened up my law firm, there was a lot of buzz around using social media to engage clients and keep companies at “top of mind.” I dabbled a bit in social media for my law firm but never invested much time in it. Referrals alone have always been the driving force of my law firm’s success. I leveraged the reputation I gained as a community advocate and I have never received one client from my website or social media.

But I firmly believe in social media. The power of social media is extraordinary. The possibilities for getting messages out on social media are limitless.

If we had had social media as a communication forum during my advocacy years, we could have been infinitely more effective.

Today, I will not do business with a person or business that does not have a minimum online presence – a website or LinkedIn. First, if a person or business does not have a website or LinkedIn, how do I know they are legitimate? Second, if they do not have an online presence, I know they are not living in the present reality. Why would I give my money to someone who is not living in the present and is obviously unable to recognize the future?

I blog my ideas, opinions, and tips about life and work. I then share my blog on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I am still learning Instagram but I’m getting better. I have readers all over the world, people who would never have found me without social media. People who send me messages of how my blogs have changed their ideas around certain topics, or even just made them think, and even those who found my writing validating because they didn’t know others shared their ideas.

I also share my travels and experiences on social media – these are legacy moves. People can live vicariously through others, be inspired to do more and see more – find out what is in the world and create a desire to experience it. Sharing what I do and see only documents my legacy – my real legacy is inspiring others.

Social Media Is About Communication

I joined Facebook several years ago. At first, I just shared other people’s messages and occasionally made nice comments. I did not share anything personal and never made controversial comments.

After a few years, I started using Facebook as a means to keep in touch with friends and family who lived far away or I did not see often – posting my pictures online to share with them my life and to see theirs.

Then a couple of years ago it occurred to me that Facebook was a communication tool with massive potential. I could share ideas and exchange opinions with a vast number of people – people I might never have the opportunity to interact with in person. I realized by not commenting I was not only robbing people of really knowing me (breaking down stereotypes being only one benefit) but also having conversations that people really do want to have even if they are sometimes uncomfortable. By not commenting, I was allowing misinformation to spread as truth because I, nor often anyone else, was responding.

By responding, I hold bullies accountable (and bullies have found their utopia in social media), correct and spread accurate information, and empower others to feel more confident to respond themselves.

Responding directly to bullies comes with responsibility and is not for everyone. You have to remain calm, focused on the issue and not allow personal attacks to throw you off course. Most importantly, you have to remember your responses are for the benefit of people casually reading the comments, not the bully.

But I am selective about on which things I comment. I am not looking for a fight. I do not need to correct every error I see. I look for things where I can teach a small lesson or start a conversation. I am a seed planter, not a hammer.

Social media gives equal opportunity access to all people to potentially connect, not just their local community, but with like-minded individuals nationally and internationally. This is good for finding your “tribe” (people who think like you), for finding customers, and for spreadings messages.

Unlike email, social media requires more engaging content. Take politicians. Most emails from politicians are about fundraising campaigns. They may include a story or message, but they are ultimately about raising money. Politicians that use social media know their social media messages have to be about stories, successes, or issues. Unlike email, social media is about communication. Posts have the potential for public comments and reactions.

For businesses, customers can be located near and far. New ideas of how to do business can be shared. You no longer need to live near entrepreneurs to learn new business practices and form partnerships. Through social media, the entire world’s knowledge and opportunities are available to you.

Are We Using Social Media To Its Full Potential?

Social media is both seen and used as forums for entertainment, knowledge, and entertainment. Other than actual travel, breaking down stereotypes and connecting with diverse individuals has never had a more effective tool. The question is, are we using it to its full potential?

The worst thing about social media are the cliques. Many people only utilize social media as an entertainment platform for sharing selfies and food pictures with their small group of friends. For example, WhatsApp and Snapchat are the most used social media platforms in some area, such as the Middle East. WhatsApp and Snapchat are messaging applications primarily used for private group communications – chatting and sharing among an exclusive list of friends.

There is nothing wrong with using social media in that way, but it is a very limited view of social media’s potential.

This is changing and will continue to do so. We are less dependent on mainstream media for information or exposure. People are starting to see how social media can connect us more as diverse humans with similar desires for ourselves, our families, our communities, our businesses, and our futures despite our geographic locations. Similarly, “who you know,” your potential connections to people and businesses that can get you what you want and where you want to be, is infinite.

Social Media Is A Legacy Move

A few years ago I told my husband I wanted to create his LinkedIn page. He was not interested. He did not understand LinkedIn and did not see it as a benefit. His impression of LinkedIn was that it was like Facebook and he did not have time for that “social waste-of-time.” But I insisted, and he told me to go ahead.

My husband travels internationally for business: China, Europe, Middle East, South Korea just to name a few. Immediately he noticed business people he met along the way started checking his LinkedIn page. Then he saw the point. His LinkedIn page allowed people to verify his legitimacy. Yes, he (we) created the source, but it is a public source – ultimately more credible.

While speaking at the Social Media Master’s Forum 2016 in Bahrain, one of the attendees approached me over lunch. She was a young woman from Bahrain currently attending University and studying law. She had concerns about my speech – Leveraging Social Media as a Legacy Move.

At the event, I had learned Bahrain was the largest user of Snapchat in the world. This small island uses Snapchat more than any other country in the world. Amazing! We were also advised that the Bahrain government was hesitant to sponsor our speaking event until they had checked out each speaker’s website and LinkedIn pages to ascertain our legitimacy.

She expressed her concern about opening up her social media accounts to strangers. I advised her that I was not advocating anyone open themselves up beyond their comfort zone – not too much anyway!

I told her LinkedIn was a must from a professional standpoint. LinkedIn is not a resume or CV but a highlight of your experience and professional focus, nothing more personal than that. Business people do check LinkedIn, as we experienced from her own government. Despite the Bahrain government’s dependence upon LinkedIn to verify our legitimacy, LinkedIn usage is extremely low in the Middle East, including Bahrain.

As for Facebook, while it is a public forum (which many seem to forget as reflected in some of their posts) you are still (mostly) in control of your Facebook account if you study the security settings. For example, if you have your “following” link activated, you can reject friend requests and they will then become followers – only seeing what you publicly post. Everything else can remain private as you choose – family, friends, acquaintances, etc.

A lot of articles and blogs speak of how technology, especially our “obsession” with social media, is causing a disconnect among people – that we were more socially connected in the past. In response someone created a meme showing people on a train, all reading newspapers, and stating “All this technology is making us antisocial.” In response, several authors expressed disagreement with the meme, particularly that once everyone read the newspaper they then discussed what they had read – indicating a social aspect to reading newspapers that does not exist as a result of social media.

I would disagree with even that perspective.

Yes, people discussed what was in the newspaper, though often times to the same extent we discuss the weather as conversation fillers. People still discuss the news and television episodes at the water cooler. But much of that conversation is a result of social media. Like the news, even including the news, is discussed and shared on social media and then what is on social media is also discussed in personal face-to-face discussions. If anything, I believe social media has added more perspective and depth to these discussions – both on-line and off-line.

I believe selfies and food pictures will always have a place in social media. Even pictures of animals will always have a place. These images, along with the comments and discussions that follow, allow others to “keep in contact” with each other, to know what we are up to even when we are far away, to know what we each care about it – and isn’t that how you really know people?

Even businesses are learning that personal images of people and places are what gains long-term customers. As strange as it sounds, these images on social media do create an intimacy, an intimacy that people crave today more than ever.

Having an online presence is a legacy move. You are creating your legacy, a legacy that can help you professionally and likely live well beyond your lifetime.

It is your creation. It is in your control. The choice is yours on how, or whether, you want to use it to its full potential as your legacy move.

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