Andrea Learned

The award-winning Living Change podcast: Listen and follow now wherever you get your podcasts!

Do Expert Expectations “Kill” the Social Media Star?

4493897716_9edf12166dI survey the business-to-business (B2B) social engagement landscape on a daily basis and tips, guidelines and “musts” abound. It makes me worry that overly expert expectations could be keeping a lot of smart people from engaging with social media. Is that what we want? Does turning social engagement into a realm of experts, gurus and absolutes kill the (potential) social media star?

Allow For An Organic Learning Process

One of the best ways I’ve found to motivate clients to write blog posts and even begin to monitor social media is by giving them permission to ignore what so many frantic articles seem to be saying. Let’s face it, the people most of us already on social media love in our streams today are not those who have hundreds and thousands of followers and share at precisely timed intervals. Instead, we tend to gravitate toward those also on an imperfect social media journey – who probably fell onto Twitter or LinkedIn by chance, and then gradually discovered their comfort level.

So, let’s step back: isn’t the point on B2B social media to try to get more innovative thinkers (whether they have a fancy title or not) into the active industry and cross-sector conversations that matter? Why would we put up barriers to entry that might overwhelm social engagement novices or give them excuses to not bother at all?

Helping others ease into creating/curating social content and building relationships may mean – heaven forbid – that they are “allowed” to write only one blog post a month. It may also mean that they only tweet once or twice a day, without paying attention to strategic timing.  It may mean, as well – and shudder to think – that they avoid Facebook or Google+ altogether.  So what?

It is only in allowing novices the space to discover what works for them, and to BE ABLE TO FIND IT FUN and rewarding, that they will make time to do it. Only then, will it also benefit their organizations, brands and industries.

Psychology of Engagement: The Still Missing Link

To be clear: I have nothing against the wealth of social media and engagement wisdom that gets published and shared on an hourly basis. I absolutely learn from and appreciate it. But, the psychology of engagement – or how people come to take the steps that lead them to enjoy and find using social media productive for their work – seems to be the still missing link. So many wise people in so many industries are not yet involved in conversations that could really use their input, and their humanity.

Back when I started (in 2008), had my own dabbling and research pulled up thousands of articles about how so many do “social” wrong, with tens of thousands of pieces on top “tips” and “guidelines,” I would have run screaming. I’d have thought I’d never be able to get up to speed, or be as clever as everyone else. So, thank goodness a friend twisted my arm and made it seem an interesting and accessible curiosity to check out.

Today, social engagement coaching is my work. I’ve learned so much and met so many incredible people by diving in slowly and building relationships organically.

So, how do we get the next generation of corporate executives, thought leaders, or otherwise innovative thinkers (that few may truly know yet yet), using the social media channels, contributing value and building relationships?  We make it accessible, we offer support and we cheer ‘em on.

In the B2B realm, especially, we are collectively striving to improve our industries, raise the bar and find daily meaning in our work. Don’t kill the social media star before she (or he) is born!


Special thanks to Henti Smith for use of the image.