This past week I went to a Facebook page of a nonprofit organization. I was excited to have the opportunity to engage with people there. However, when I got to the page, it was filled with posts, a few comments, but NO conversation. The organization had posted different links and pieces of information. The few people who had actually commented got no response from the organization. My reaction? What’s the point?

Organizations and businesses are being strongly encouraged to join the social media game. Many are. That’s great. But, unless folks are willing to put the time in to learn how to utilize these tools effectively, it really isn’t worth showing up. It is called “social” media for a reason. You gotta be social! That means engaging in conversation. Too many believe social media is just a broadcast medium. But if that is how you are using Twitter or Facebook or some of these other tools, you are missing out. It’s ok to tell followers/friends what you are up to. But that is just a small sliver of what you should be doing. Most of what should be happening on social media is conversational or promoting other people’s stuff.

Think of it this way. Imagine walking into a room filled with people. Now stand on a chair with a megaphone and start shouting about yourself. You know exactly how people would respond. They would try to ignore you or give you funny looks. Some might ask you to be quiet or even to leave. The same is true with social media. If you just shout at folks, they will block you, hide your comments, unfollow you or just plain ignore you. And they should. You are not really contributing to the conversation. Because social media isn’t about you. It is about everyone. And when you make it about you, only you, most or all of the time, you miss the whole point. And no one is really going to care what you have to say.

So if you have a Facebook page, respond when people post or comment. They will want to comment again if you do. If you are on Twitter, don’t just send out a bunch of tweets about yourself or your organization. Respond to others’ tweets. Retweet what others are tweeting. Engage. It really works. And if you aren’t willing to do that, then just stay home.