Lost in a social media world – what should I be doing online?

Recently, I traveled to NY to visit a client and help them with one of their learning websites. The business I did there was fine if uneventful but what happened on the way back to the LaGuardia really opened my eyes to how lost people can get in an online world.

First thing I blew it on was the directions. Instead of taking the time – and I have some being stuck in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere in New Jersey – I worked on a few projects and watched some TV. I could have easily gone to Google Maps or something and gotten directions but I didn’t. Instead I decided to trust my original Google map that got me to the business in the first place and just reverse my way back. That was big mistake.

Second, while leaving in plenty of time, this is NY and I should have realized that there is never enough time if you are traveling in New York City. Too many people. Too many accidents. Too much frustration – there’s never the right signs. I don’t know why I trust highway signs. Even though their entire reason for existence is specifically for directions – I always seem to get better instructions from billboards.

Thirdly, I trusted my mobile phone map which just isn’t big enough and it’s practically impossible to see especially when you are trying to use it in lunch hour traffic in the city.

So on my back I got frustrated while stuck in traffic on the GW bridge. This frustration clouded my judgment when it came to reversing the directions – should I go east or west? It says west but… And then I got lost. Badly. I got stuck on a interstate that didn’t have an exit for ten miles – are you kidding? Then when I got off to turn around, there was no entrance ramp on the other side. I was now in the belly of city and not on an artery. I was doomed.

Then in frustration, I put the wrong location in my phone and my phone proceeded to give me directions that got me further lost. I was sure I was going to miss my flight.

So I called my wife and through her soothing and calming voice and her Google map, I found my way back to LaGuardia and I actually MADE my flight. Thank God to because the next one was six hours later. A two-hour trip became four.

How did I get so lost? I’m usually one of those people that have a good sense of direction and I know my way around.

I got lost because I failed to take the necessary steps to plan my roadmap. I didn’t have the right directions. I trusted my gut instead of going with a plan. Then when things didn’t work out the way I wanted I got frustrated and used helpful technology in the wrong way and it messed me up even worse.

So what does this have to do with social media and your company? A lot actually.

The big one…is that if you are LOST IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD, you need to have a real good plan of where you want to go with your social media online presence. There are many routes to go but you should know which is the best one for you and it should be mapped out and on the wall. Here is where you are at. Here’s where you want to go. Stick to it.

You could easily do a blog, social community, twitter, forum, widget, video, podcast, photos, facebook, myspace, etc…but does it really make sense.  How would you know if you’ve never done it?

When it comes to the online world, don’t trust your gut. Trust your research. Many, many people will call you and tell you that what they are doing is the right way – maybe the only way. You may like them. You may trust them. But don’t. Call the references. Check out the work. Do a search on them. Ask them lots and lots of questions about their methodology. They should have a plan customized for you.

Technology is not the answer. Just because it is cool doesn’t mean that it really does anything for you. You have to understand the technology (not in a bits sort of way – but what it is capable of and how it will work for you).

If things are going badly, contact someone you trust and listen to them. Their perspective can bring a whole new light to the subject you are stuck on. They could possibly guide you out of the mess you are in if you let them.

I’ll go back to NY just like you should go back to social media (if you’ve gotten burned in the past) but I’ll do it with a good roadmap (like the ones MediaSauce creates), lots of research, and access to a trusted source.

BTW, this came out today on social media. Customers want you to talk to them through it. Don’t ignore it because of the past.