Apr 17

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Weaving or unravelling?

The World Wide Web came onto the scene about 20 years ago. Google’s search engine was online by 1997.  Facebook launched eight years ago (yes, only eight!) and YouTube the next year. Twitter celebrated its sixth birthday this year. A change in technology and the software it drives initially attracts what are known as “early adopters.”  Anxious to ride the edge of the new wave, they are eager to embrace the “next new thing.”

From many organizations the cry, “We need a website!” rang out in the late-nineties followed by “We should be on Facebook” and then “Why aren’t we on Twitter?”

Registering on each of those platforms was, and still is simple. What is not so simple is asking “Why do you want a website, Facebook presence, or accounts on Youtube or Twitter?

Early in the development of social media I participated in a webinar that used the analogy of weaving a tapestry to describe how organizations should use online communication. A combination of threads following a clear pattern will result in a woven tapestry. Unless the threads intersect and cross each other, there is no cloth artwork.

The analogy stuck with me. Unless you know how each part of a media strategy interacts with other parts—on and off line—you have a number of single threads accomplishing very little.

Any communication, from a Sunday church bulletin to a multi-level website, should have a reason to exist, know what it is supposed to achieve, and how it relates to other communications.  If you can’t justify the existence of a communication (i.e. if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do) why do it?

With the number of ways to communicate available to any organization today, it is crucial to ask the “why” question. Why are we on (or not on) Facebook, Twitter and the World Wide Web? How does each of these fit into our overall communication strategy? Are all our messages in each medium consistent and connected to each other.

The inter-relatedness of social media allows you to post a video on Youtube and let people know about it with a Tweet containing a link to your website where it is also posted. At the same time the Twitter message can appear on Facebook and automatically post to your website from your Twitter feed. People can then retweet news of your new video or share the Facebook link all the while increasing the reach of your initial message. This creates the communication tapestry.

Is your organization weaving, unravelling or hanging by threads?

Asking “why” is never easy, but it yields the most useful results.

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