It's not a magic bullet

It's easy to get carried away and view social media as the solution to your organization's problems. People aren't showing up to your events? Start instagramming. People aren't buying your product? Start tweeting. People aren't reading your blog? Start flooding Facebook with your content.

The truth is, however, social media won't solve your problems if what you're sharing with people isn't valuable. This is because social media isn't a magic bullet. It's a magnifying glass. If your event is boring, if your product isn't valuable, if your blog is sub-par, then social media isn't going to produce the results you are hoping for. It will actually produce the opposite, because social media can only magnify what's happening in the real world.

Sure, you can skew the facts, edit your photos, and dream up inspiring tweets, but even the best of fakers will hurt themselves in the long run. Because once people buy a faker's product, show up to their event, or read their work and engage with it enough to make a decision about how valuable the product, event, or content is, they'll be able to assess the degree to which the social media promotion was trustworthy.

Believe it or not, the most social media engagement I've ever generated in my work as a communications coordinator was with an amateur looking panorama photo I took with my iPhone while standing on a dock in the rain. The likes and engagement with that one photo was staggering across the board, but it wasn't because the photo was expertly taken. It was because I took a photo of an event that was truly meaningful for all of the people who attended, and when they saw the photo on my organization's social media feeds, they knew the event being represented was actually valuable.

Since taking that photo and seeing the engagement it generated, I have started to reassess what social media actually does, and what social media actually does is magnify what's happening in the real world. So if you want to generate the results you're hoping for, don't put the cart before the horse. Make sure you aren't viewing social media as a magic bullet. Because it's a magnifying glass.