Bullhorn or Tin Can Telephone?

Bullhorn or Tin Can Telephone?

Sometimes social media is like the people who stand in public parks with a soap box and a bull horn.

They shout about religion, animal cruelty, the wage gap, miracle cures, or current affairs. For the most part, the general public walks right on by, dismissing the speakers as crazy or ignoring them altogether. Occasionally a soap-boxer gets a response from a passerby, but it’s often heckling or a hand gesture. It is a rare person who has an epiphany and is moved to action after hearing a soap box message from a bullhorn.

Many organizations use social media like a bullhorn without ever considering whether their audience cares about their message or if anyone is even listening. They’re not engaging any one, making connections, or inciting action. They’re shouting, and it’s a one-way conversation.

Connectivity is a Two-Way Street

Perhaps a better method for delivery would be the tin can telephone. You know, the one created by connecting two cans with a piece of string. In order for a tin can telephone to work, the listener must be a willing participant. He has to pick up the can, put it up to his ear, and listen intently. The speaker must whisper a message and wait to hear a response. It’s a personal connection between two people, a two-way exchange of conversation.

Social media can often be a shouting match that drowns out all voices—even the interesting, reasonable ones. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in what we want to tell our base that we sometimes forget to stop and ask them what they would like to hear.

Ask yourself whether your organization is shouting or having a conversation. If nobody is talking back—or if you’re getting a lot of heckling and hand gestures—it might be time to reevaluate your social media strategy. Without listeners around your campfire, your water cooler, or your conference table, your story simply can’t be effective.

Ready to whisper into the tin can telephone? You might be surprised at who is ready to connect on the other end and what they would like you to know in return.

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