Four Lessons in Social Media

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 01/03/2008 - 10:39am

Flickr photo: *maya*NTEN member Beth Kanter tagged several folk to share four lessons in social media from 2007. I've been sitting on this post for a few days now because, I think like many of you, we have struggled to understand how we can leverage social media tools to better engage and add value to our community. Outside of the small book I could write about Scrabulous, I'm not sure I have too many lessons learned about how to succeed with social media.

I am certain, however, that we've learned a few things about how to experiment with social media. I figure that if we experiment better, we might actually learn something concrete to share by 2009. So:

1. Let Freedom Ring (for your staff). Whether it's Flickr, Facebook, Twitter or, the best way to understand how people are using a tool and why is to become a deep user yourself. Once you're immersed, it's a lot easier for you to understand how to extend the tool for organizational purposes. NTEN staff are free, even required, to "waste" part of each day with these tools.

2. You have to name it to claim it. Dr. Phil said it first, but I always find a reason to repeat it. Our experiments with social media thus far have been really haphazard. This year, we're going to focus on providing more value to our community via social media tools in specific, measurable ways.

3. Think of yourself as a party host. We're also going to focus on the basics in 2008. Just as you greet each dinner party guest, take their coat, find out how the kids are, etc., we'll be doing more one-on-one interaction with our social network participants in 2008. It's going to be tough, but we think we need to try to connect with folks individually.

4. Accept the fact that you will screw it up. We all hate to look dumb, so rather than try something we might fail at, we don't try at all. That strategy isn't going to get us anywhere. At NTEN, we'll be pursuing all this social media stuff with a little more reckless abandon in 2008. Sometimes we'll look silly, but at least we'll try.

That's my list, Beth. I invite the rest of you to try this stuff out with us. Here's where to find us on the social web:


  1. Holly: ntenhross
  2. Annaliese: annaliese_h
  3. Karl: khedstrom
  4. Anna: annanten
  5. Brett: brett_meyer