Social Media in the Time of Cholera

Last year saw the resurgence of an old foe of humankind – the deadly disease, Cholera. In December 2010, the AFP reported that the cholera toll in Haiti reached over 2500 affected individuals.  The United Nations continues to seek the cause of the deadly epidemic while angry riots broke out in the streets of Port-au-Prince.Cholera? The first thing that comes to mind is Oprah’s Book Club choice, Love in the Time of Cholera. Great read. But, cholera? Really?

I cannot help but feel isolated and out of touch with reality when news of this magnitude reaches me. It feels trite to say that I hope this catastrophe will be eradicated in the very near future. The news has prompted me to take a fresh look at myself and my connection with the world around me.

Using Social Media Channels like Twitter

As we all start fresh this year, with resolve to make positive changes in our lives and the world, I ask myself what behaviors I should adopt. I feel trite, considering the unrest around the world and question my relevance.  Specifically, in writing an article about Social Media while real and significant challenges are being presented globally.  But, today I relish the thought that I am connected by virtual superhighways to every corner of the globe. I  have the perfect conduit to develop a personal and business brand and publish my thoughts to the ENTIRE WORLD! {Okay, at least to those who will listen}. Talk about a soapbox.

So, what is the most effective way to use social media? And how can I stay relevant in an arena that is constantly changing, especially when there is real and significant stuff going on in the world around me? I’m going to pull a Scarlett O’Hara and tackle each of these questions later this week. Honestly, it needs more thought. Today, I want to focus on the establishment of trust and genuine authority.

1. Being “real”

Any of us who have a real following on any social media channel know that transparency and being “real” are the most important aspects of developing digital relationships. If we to continue to make real and lasting relationships through the phenomenon of social media, we ultimately, increase our sphere of influence. If “being real” means dropping WTFs or posting racy pictures, don’t be real. Be someone else.

However, I do believe that a genuine interest in both your topics and your online audience translate into a clear picture of who you are and why you are interesting. I am not as intrigued by 25-ways-to-do-this or 7-ways-to-do that as I am to a quirky, attention-grabbing tweet that shows a personality.

Do I blog these types of articles? Yes. *Sigh* But, only because copy writing and article writing is an important part of my business. And even if it feels contrived, numbered articles are a proven way of catching attention to get my message out. Blogging is the reason you are here now, n’est ce pas?

2. Replying directly on Twitter

Plenty of well-respected “Tweeters” advise to send scheduled thank you messages after you are followed for the first time by a new user. I wholeheartedly agree that a response is vital. But, to schedule or not to schedule? That is the question. I am most likely to follow an online personality who a) responds to me and b) responds quickly. This shows genuine expressed interest in ME and is a good indicator that this person/brand may have something worthwhile to say. Scheduling feels very impersonal to me. But, I see the benefit in ensuring that each new follower gets a quick message. I fall back to the “quality, not quantity” meme. It takes more time, true, but if I’m spending significant time direct messaging folks in Twitter, it’s pretty obvious that I have developed a genuine online relationship with that individual. This may mean that I don’t have thousands of followers, but that’s okay if I have developed quality relationships with those that do follow me. Sometimes we forget that our ultimate goal is to drive consumer engagement. You can’t do a better job of engaging a potential client than engaging a client.

3.  Investing in your “online” relationships

There is vast difference between “Tweeters” and “Facebookers”. At times, I almost feel a welcome relief, like I’m coming back home when I log into my Facebook account. I can ask about birthdays, follow up on important events, see pictures and “like” what my “friends” are up to. This builds an incredible loyalty all of it’s own. Not that these things can’t be done on Twitter. Some people do it very well. But let’s face it…that 140-word count can take some getting used to.  Either way it’s important to mastering {or at least attempt mastery, in my case} of several digital streams and always continue to seek out better ways to build strong online relationships. Joining online twitter chats like #blogchat is a great way to meet other bloggers whether you are new to the game or a veteran player. Just remember that paying it forward is the best way to foster goodwill and getting some of the feedback that you are seeking.

Effectively leveraging social media can be a daunting task. There are volumes of information with tutorials, and they can be overwhelming. If you are like me, by the time you have found an article you would like to read, you have stumbled upon seven more.

So, while the world keeps on spinning and new technology makes our favorite social media channels bigger and better, my fingers keep on typing. Sometimes with abbreviated number-words and #hashtag and sometimes with a complete sentence and good ole’ fashioned punctuation. Building relationships is one of the greatest joys of this job and keeps me coming back for me. Join me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and let’s invest in each other.

Finally, if you haven’t already forgotten about my opening paragraph, very cliche, blog title and the awkward transition between the two, then I invite you to donate to the victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Dozens of charities have activated plans to provide supplies and medical attention to the devastated population. You can retweet this or share it on Facebook.

You are reading , Social Media in the Time of Cholera posted on PollySentrick. If you’ve enjoyed this post, join us and check out PollySentrick on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest.

 Originally Posted: 03 Jan 2011 12:26 AM PST by Polly Sentrick for Pandora Project Marketing, LLC.

 

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