Monday, November 10, 2008

Ways of Creating Community through Social Media and Online Presence

Posted by Amanda Walsh

I found some really interesting blogs from this list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Social Media from Ron Hudson. Many of these women have great things to share about social media, marketing and public relations. One blog stood out to me because it talked about the ability to create a community in the social media world. Liz Strauss wrote about her Italian grandmother's way of welcoming visitors despite her lack of knowledge of the English language. I can relate to this communication barrier as I continue to learn the Spanish language here in Madrid.

Liz´s grandmother owned a small saloon in Illinois and despite only knowing Italian, she made every visitor feel welcomed and want to return. She had a way of creating a community and connecting with others.

In many ways the following attributes that Liz noticed in her grandmother can be used to help foster a warm and friendly online, social community. Social media brings us all together, with our differences and our varied languages, and provides common ground to stand on.

* Welcome. Liz´s grandmother always smiled at every visitor that came through the saloon doors. In the same way, companies should create Web pages that are user-friendly and maintain an online presence that encourages communication with stakeholders and customers.

* Smile! It says so much without using any words. It is easy to convey happiness and joy through a simple smile. A smile takes such little effort but shows so much! Again, putting customers at ease by creating a blog or twitter account where people feel comfortable giving their opinion.

* See. She paid special attention to each individual she encountered. Despite not fully understanding, she was able to convey her interest by showing she was paying attention. This is also important for companies because once customers give feedback it is important to follow up and address their specific needs or concerns.

* Listen! If you don't have the appropriate words, take the time to listen as best you can. Often you will make the speaker feel so good by just giving them an ear.

* Laugh! It is important to remember this concept when communicating. We are all humans and yes we make mistakes. Liz´s grandmother would often laugh when faltering to find a specific word or meaning. Keep trying until you are understood. A company can use this principle by addressing mistakes quickly and honestly.

This post spoke to me because not only does it apply to real life when not knowing a special language or custom, but these principles can also be applied to social media by using the central idea of connecting people. This can be done by fostering welcoming, friendly environments or taking the time out to listen to a customer's concerns and then following up with them.

I want to leave the readers of ThePRLawyer with this quote from Liz that I feel sums up the article perfectly,

¨My grandmother wasn't afraid to build a bridge on the language she didn't know because she trusted herself to connect in other ways. We can build a bridge to the folks who don't know social media by taking a clue and some cues from things she did. Where are you seeing great examples of hospitality and bridge building in our Internet culture? What can we do to help them grow?”

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