Learning from one’s own mistakes is a crucial part of development.
As I’ve watched my daughter get older some of the most satisfying moments have not been when she’s done something extremely clever or new or extraordinary or funny but when’s she’s made a notable change in her actions and decisions as a result of a mistake previously made.
Learning (and remembering) that dad’s coffee mug is “hot” was especially touching (pun intended).
But we can also learn from other’s mistakes too. I think this is critical, especially for the church and evangelical social media types/bloggers/creators/engagers of content, that we learn from some of the big guys, the “gurus” perhaps.
This edited list, from Mashable (and comments), outlines some of the top mistakes that we could learn a thing or two from. I would challenge you to think how this list applies to how we engage in the digital world for the Kingdom.
My comments are in italics:
Respond to all negative comments – When I, David Spark, (the author) started being seen publically in print, TV, radio, and online I read everyone’s comments, but focused more intently on the negative ones. I wasted a lot of time putting far too much effort into defending myself to these anonymous naysayers than they put into attacking me. I soon understood that some geeks simply can’t help themselves being negative. They’ve got an obnoxious strand of DNA and must constantly try to prove themselves smarter than you.
I think this is important for an additional reason as well: Time. Some of us (probably all of us in ministry) don’t have the time to respond. So don’t. I do believe we should wisely engage the criticism, but understand that not everyone is interested in a “dialogue” but rather a “monologue”.
Participate in flame wars to increase traffic – Similarly, Dana Gardner, blogger for ZDNet, admits he would engage in online arguments just to watch his Web traffic shoot up. But over time Gardner realized that flame wars don’t attract the right kind of audience. “Going to the lowest emotional common denominator to me is an ineffective way of reaching that audience. I’d rather come up with valuable insightful fresh innovative content than appeal to angry white men sitting around computers that don’t have anything else to do,” Gardner said.
This is good stuff. Flame wars are stupid. Period.
Hire a voice talent for $2,000 to read a podcast for you – Paul Dunay, Global Director of Integrated Marketing at BearingPoint and prominent blogger, made a massive blunder when he decided to get into podcasting. His first show was actually a whitepaper read by a voice talent for $2,000. The resulting podcast sounded like a book on tape and he and his colleagues were horrified. That episode was never published, but the voice talent did get paid.
Authenticity is absolutely required if you’re engaging online. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts about this one, especially those that have experience with podcasting (I’ve dabbled in it but never have started a weekly episodic cast)…
Send a specially selected mass mailing to your friends – Susan Bratton, co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, is still having a problem trying to scale individual relationships with social media. Even when she pares down her mailing list of 8,000 to a personally selected mailing of 250, she still gets nasty messages telling her to “take me off this list.”
Assume that social media doesn’t exist until you arrive – Social media strategist Chris Brogan and founder of PodCamp reached out to the New England podcasters’ bulletin board and said he was going to invite all the social media rock stars to come to Boston for Podcamp. Nobody responded to what he thought was a generous offer until he saw a response on the board that said, “There are a lot of rock stars in Boston and it’s kind of offensive you got to import them from other places.” Brogan learned from his mistake. Wherever you go on the Web realize there’s been a history. Don’t assume you know everything and discredit what’s been done before you arrived, Brogan said.
Ego is a huge issue in the evangelical christian space. Talking with a friend about it the other day was refreshing, but sad. It’s a sin that seriously needs a beat down.
Post a comment on your own Facebook profile wall – David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and the upcoming book World Wide Rave, needed his teenage daughter to point out his massive social networking faux pas. After setting up his Facebook profile, he showed it to his daughter to which she responded, “You’re not supposed to write on your own wall. You’re such a dork, dad.”
This is just funny… but only because I’ve done it. I’m a dork.
Don’t engage with people who only want to push their own initiative – Ego and personal agendas often take over many online communications, and Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText, used to ignore these self promoters. He doesn’t anymore realizing that these self promoters are looking to create an association with you and your business. “You really want to engage with every conversation that relates with your brand,” Mayfield advised, “Even if you don’t want to necessarily draw attention to the existence of a competitor.”
See above comment about ego. If you’re not an open source theologian online I think you’re seriously missing the heartbeat of what is really going on and the purpose behind using technology for the Kingdom. It’s not your initiative anyways, it’s about Christ’s Gospel, not yours. Step aside.
Over-architect a site with features and content without talking to your customers – Deb Schultz, social media strategist for P&G, fell into the trap of making too many assumptions about what an audience wanted and just started developing a site loaded with features and functionality. It’s what happens when you work at a big company and you don’t see outside of the four walls of the organization. Schultz admitted she should have spent more time talking with customers instead of adding more content to the site.
This one’s crucial and is super nice to hear especially in light of some of the new adoption of social media and enterprise software studies that have shown up. Make it easy for people to get involved, not confusing or hard. Duh.
Be overly careful about everything you say online – Futurist Thornton May claims he still falls into the trap of self-editorializing when writing online. Even though May understands that what makes social media valuable is that it’s authentic, real, and unfinished, he still is extremely careful about what he says and that takes the edge off his online persona. He blames his age and says people of his generation are not familiar nor necessarily comfortable engaging in online discussions.
This one’s a bit touchy because I think we’ve all gone through this at least once. How are you representing yourself online in front of a vast audience with even broader backgrounds? Is sharing my personal thoughts online “christian”? What about sharing sin and struggles? What if I come off as too prideful or egotistical? What if…? What about…?
I for one believe in authenticity with great understanding, wisdom, and counsel. But be real. That’s what this medium is all about.
Don’t come to your own defense when people bad mouth you online – It’s often a good idea to have others defend you in a public debate. But Peter Hirshberg chairman of Technorati and co-founder of The Conversation Group got into a situation where his silence in a debate about a product release was just seen as rather peculiar and it backfired on him.
Getting defensive and being overly sensitive about stuff is a common issue in the Christian sector, and it bleeds into blogging as well. Wisdom rules the day here for me (as well as getting sound, godly advice).
Accept friend requests from people you barely know – Robin Wolaner, founder of the 40+ social networking site TBD.com, made the mistake of accepting friend requests from people she barely knew. These non-friends on her network happened to be very prolific posters and she couldn’t turn down their noise. Many social networks don’t offer a setting that allows you to only get information from your close friends and not from people you barely know. The only thing she could do was de-friend them, and as a result some were insulted.
This one’s interesting and I think there might be two-sides to the coin for us. One argument is that we should reach as many as possible (and if they sign up to be your friend, then take it) while the other is begging the question about intimacy and how “close” one can get with 10,000 friends on facebook and the question of quality of investment in relationships.
I think this is probably a personal choice as well as a stylistic difference and stance on evangelism. Thoughts?
Stalk women on Facebook – Stewart Alsop, partner of Alsop Louie Partners, claims this is not a mistake and he’s extremely proud of it. Of his 1200+ friends on Facebook, Alsop claims he has about 400 attractive women as Facebook friends. In his mid-50s, Alsop reaches out to young attractive women and asks if he can be their friend. Many say yes. Alsop says he’s an old guy and it makes him feel as if he’s got something going on. There’s no downside for Alsop. Some may think it’s weird, but it doesn’t change anything for him.
Uh. I would highly recommend not doing this.
Listening to Coaching of Those More Experienced – Comment by Brent Harrison -Guy Kawasaki coached me recently on a blog post where he felt I was “bragging” about some project I did for a client unnecessarily. When I wrote the original post, I was sincerely trying to represent my sincere enthusiasm for the work – was too close to it to see it otherwise. Given this experience, I would suggest another related to Assume Social Media Didn’t Exist Before Your Arrived, which would be Listen to Coaching of Those More Experienced. This is especially true if unsolicited – in Guy’s case he was graciously trying to help me (without requesting anything in return – though I bet he’ll pitch me a book soon!) You always have the option to thank the person and not follow the advice.
Yes. Definitely. Learn from the best (and never “think” you’re the best… keep it humble).
Banning Someone Who’s Life is the Social Network – Comment by Marc Meyer – Here was my mistake as a community manager. I banned someone whose whole life was the community. Thinking that would be the end of it. I moved on. It was far from it. That person took it upon themselves to try and blow up (figuratively) every aspect of social media, myself, our brand, and my company was associated with. I had to “let” the person back in because it was easier to manage them under my watch. Big Lesson learned about the power of the community and the need to understand the players and not resort to knee jerk power trips.
This one requires wisdom, discernment, and tactfulness. A “Terms of Service” helps too…
Know Your Tools – Comment by Katie Van Domelen– I run the Twitter account for my agency (@SitewireAgency) so I thought to make things easy I’d set up my Twhirl to run both my personal account (@ktvan) as well as the corporate one. One day when I was leaving for lunch I decided to Twitter out a joke about where I was going – except I accidently did it on the company account. I quickly fixed it – but I think anyone who was following us with a desktop app like Twhirl probably saw it.
Yeah. That’s pretty important. I think there’s a need for a post about tools and ministry use…
Think Before You Speak – Comment by Michelle / Chelpixie – I strongly consider everything I post anywhere before I hit the button to send or submit because those aren’t words I can take back. They are forever in google. I got that down pretty well, very quickly.
This one is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo crucial. The internet is (from what I can tell) everything but eternal… your comments and posts are going to be around for a loooooooooooooooooooooong time.
Any more from your experiences?