Must Read, Social Media Strategy

Inviting Collaboration Through Social Media

June 23, 2011

The world is full of incredible people with really great ideas. I see them and hear them every day. On top of that, the opportunities for people to connect and share stories, experiences, and ideas is unparalleled in human history.

I recently wrote about hearing Stillness Speaks by Eckart Tolle, where he talks about the rising consciousness in our culture that is occurring at the same time that those who cling to the old way continue to get louder and louder.  As Tolle puts it, ‘Paradoxically, things are getting better, and worse, at the same time.’

This wisdom gave me much needed hope for the future.  It can be difficult to navigate the seemingly endless stream of negativity and desperation that has come to characterize our ‘news.’ We need an antidote to the continual diet of gloom, doom, and dysfunction that is served up nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through mainstream media.

CollaborationEnter social media.

Getting to the root of what this means, let’s consider one definition of ‘social’ from the World English Dictionary:

Living or preferring to live in a community rather than alone.

Nice!  Fits perfectly.

We all have our message.  Our vision for the world.  Our ideas for how to make change.

But what if we preferred to work in collaboration with others (i.e. build community) as opposed to pushing our own agenda all the time? What could we accomplish together?

Social media affords us opportunities to build community with others that wouldn’t have been possible a generation ago.  The 4 words I use to describe my approach to social media strategy are Listen, Imagine, Connect, and Inspire.  The first point is so critical because it opens the door to discovering ways of collaborating with others.

So, let’s do a quick listening exercise, shall we?

Think about an issue that you’re working on or want to work on.  Pick something really meaningful to you – could be social, environmental, political, personal, or otherwise. Now, go over to Twitter search and type in a word or two on this topic. Even if you don’t use Twitter, do this anyway.  Just pretend it’s Google.  🙂  See what comes up in the search results.  (note: if your topic is broad, you might need to add some qualifiers to the search term so that you can narrow down the results)

Go ahead and do that now. Spend a couple of minutes reading through the results.  I’ll wait.

Ok, what did you discover? Were people talking about your topic?  Did you discover anything that surprised you?  Were you inspired by anything you saw?

Is there an opportunity to reach out to others that have this same interest and collaborate, share stories, etc.? If you’re a Twitter user, maybe you could follow some new people, create a new Twitter list around your topic and add them to it, send a tweet introducing yourself, pass along resources that might be helpful to them, etc.

What if instead of focusing so intently on what we are trying to do as individuals or as organizations, we opened ourselves up to what others are out there doing already?  What if our combined energy and enthusiasm for a topic could be amplified by collaborating?

If you’re an individual that’s working on a cause, this is probably pretty easy to envision.  It gets more complicated when larger organizations get involved, but conceptually there is not much of a difference.

Our combined strength is many times more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.

You can repeat this simple exercise in other channels and using other tools.  I chose Twitter because it gives immediate feedback on what is happening right now.  It’s one of the best listening tools out there, and it’s free.  The only barrier to entry is the desire to learn and an internet connection.

We have the tools at our disposal to make meaningful changes happen in the world. When used to their fullest potential, they can usher in a new era of collaboration and sharing that will bring about these changes at a pace that might be unfathomable today.

What do you think about the potential for collaboration?  Care to share the results of your listening exercise from above?


Photo: Armosa Studios from the World Domination Summit

  • Simone Lipscomb June 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Collaboration is the key!

    • Brandon Sutton June 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      You better believe it.  And just get ready for me to share the conversation I had last night – it’s going to send us both into orbit! 🙂

  • Al Smith June 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Great suggestion Brandon. I know from experience that you are not just talking the talk.  I know you do this and you do C.A.R.E.  I love your 4 words almost as much as mine. Ha !

     Care to ….. uh …… Collaborate ? ha ! get it ?

    • Brandon Sutton June 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Nice on, Al!  I’m glad this resonates with you.  Seriously – listening is one of the biggest opportunities in social media.  We just need to tune in and figure out how we can add value to the conversation. To the extent that we can help others that are already participating, great!

  • Lyn Deardorff June 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I’ve never been the best listener out there, by far.  But I learned a long time ago about collaboration – that the sum of the whole is greater than it’s parts.  Way beyond my abilities alone have come great successes in my lifetime – from collaboration and often of very disparate peoples.  The funny thing is that the more I’m “in collaboration”, the more my listening skills get sharpened!  Thanks for your great thoughts on this very important – and very timely – topic.

    • Brandon Sutton June 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks Lyn. It’s actually fun to collaborate with people!  I’ve had some of the most inspiring conversations in the past couple of days based on connecting people that are out there doing great work in the world, and trying to help them further their work. Chris Brogan calls this being at the elbow of every deal. By helping others do the work they are called to do, we become known as solutions-oriented people and not simply opportunistic.

      Good to hear that collaboration helps sharpen your listening skills.  I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

  • Kim June 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    The fun really does start with “listen.”  Too often I see an interesting headline or notice the first couple of lines in an article…then I share it without taking the time to really save the whole thought.  SO glad I did not do that with this piece, Brandon!  Such a refreshing expression…one that reframes me.

    • Brandon Sutton June 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks, Kim.  I’m glad you let it sink in.  Hope you’ll subscribe and check back in on future posts.  🙂

  • Grateful for Connection June 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm

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