Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with several talented folks involved in the field of social communications. At an in-house digital communications event in Dallas last week, I enjoyed excellent conversations with Barbra Rozgonyi of WiredPRWorks and Deidre Walsh of Jive Software. Today, at a meeting of the Social Media Club of Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of connecting with SMC Philly organizer Gloria Bell, blogger Cecily Kellogg of Uppercase Woman, and author and co-founder of Zoetica, Geoff Livingston, among others. The presentations and sidebar discussions with each of these good folks were informative and inspirational for me. All of them were warm and willing to talk.
This post isn’t about name dropping, however. Each of these individuals helped to cement a new perspective for me: there are no social media gods. There are only people.
I’ve been involved in social communications for almost two years now, and I continue to feel like a relative newcomer when interfacing with folks in this circle. There are a bevy of brilliant luminaries from every industry and skillset, and it can become daunting when you see a rapid-fire set of ideas, concepts, and opinions in your social streams each day. I confess to being a bit over-enthusiastic at times (“geeking out”) when talking to these folks, but, more so, I’ve unconsciously treated some as though there were deities: masters of their domain, untouchable. I see the same patterns in others and have heard stories of backlash when expressing differing opinions to the social gods.
For us folks invested in the social space, we have to remember that we are dealing with human beings, all the time. Not just the individuals who we’re reaching out to (and helping others do the same), but each other. That’s the “social” in social media, of course, but I get the feeling the “human” aspect is lost from time to time. Respect and professionalism are prerequisites, but we can’t be afraid to share stories, offer contrasting opinions or constructive criticism, and give praise where deserved. We each have strengths, weaknesses, and our own unique personalities, but turning social communications into a “cult of personality” is not where we need to go.
My recent interactions were positive precisely because we all treated each other like people, not figures, metrics, or influencers to be courted. I hope to see more of this as my knowledge and network grows and fewer instances of “false idols.”
So, what’s the moral? Be warm, be generous, be fair, but, most of all, be human. I will.