How looking below the surface of social media will make you a better communicator

Are you finding it tough sharing your message in a very crowded world? Whether you run a small business, represent an organisation or want to increase your personal profile, it can be a frustrating process because everyone else is trying to do the same thing in the same space.

Over the last week I had the privilege of convening two events for communication professionals. Listening to the speakers who joined me on stage, I was reminded of some important principles  as we all struggle to get traction in a busy digital environment.

1.     Spread the word on social, but don’t neglect your own assets

David Pembroke from contentgroup made the point that it's dangerous to put all your eggs in the social media basket.

Actually, his analogy was less about eggs and more about building a house. As he put it, “you wouldn’t build a house on rented land”.

It's a reminder to develop content and spread your message through channels you own and control - like your website. Then, you're free to take advantage of the incredible range of social media tools out there, and point people back to your mother-ship. It's your source of truth - a place where you can reinforce your key messages and correct misinformation.

2.     Be at the top of the content creation chain

Editorial expert Stuart Howie reminded us of the power of thinking like a journalist (even an old journo like me needed this reminder).

Each of us is now a publisher; if we can operate with a "newsroom mindset", where we’re originating valuable content and spreading it through multiple channels, we’re going to have a proactive advantage.

If you’re a subject matter expert - or your organisation has expertise on a particular topic - don’t wait to be asked for your opinion. Take the initiative and be the content creator, then find ways to make your valuable message known. This isn’t empty spin or marketing hustle. You're creating genuine high-value material that will benefit others.

3.     If you seek the truth, strive to be truthful

Truth and trust specialist Elly Johnson gave everyone a wake-up call by pointing out that each of us tells numerous lies every day, whether we realise it or not. Most of these little porkies aren’t dangerous or destructive ("Sorry I'm late, the traffic was terrible..."), but a better habit is to monitor and weed out white lies.

If you want others to see you as credible - and if you want to reduce the number of lies people tell you - it starts with honest self-reflection and a commitment to being more truthful.

It’s a sad reality that lies and scandals dominate much online communication. A study released this year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that false information on Twitter travels six times faster than the truth, and reaches far more people! We can play our own small part in trying to combat that, by being 100% committed to truth. 

The world of communication has changed radically even in the last few years - and it's light years from what it looked like a decade ago. While it can be fun and challenging trying to keep up with technology, it’s the principles lying beneath that provide the real insights into human behaviour. Those who take the time to understand those principles will have an edge in this competitive  environment.

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