Facebook, Twitter have much to teach us about personal, corporate interactions

Use social networks to engage people, not just announce events

Commentary | Chanmin Chung

Use social networks to engage people, not just announce events

Building relationships is difficult when no listening is involved. Social Network Services (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter should be used to create dialogue, not just act as banners, leaflets, or one-way communication tools for advertisement.

Suppose you are hosting the following event and you'd like to use an SNS to reach out to your intended audience:

Event: Golden Angels 30th Anniversary Concert

Location: Sahmyook University Church, Seoul, Korea

6 p.m. Saturday, January 8

When launching an online campaign, remember that the draw of an SNS is the user's ability to interact with them. Unlike posters and bulletin announcements, readers are able to respond to the information presented by commenting or posting on Facebook walls, tweeting about them on Twitter, recording video responses on YouTube and even forwarding information they like on to friends.

When planning an event or selling a product, your first step should be to empower your intended audience. It will reap rewards.

SNS users are not interested in tasting food that has already been cooked. They would like to help choose the ingredients, put the recipe together and then help cook. Empower your users, or your intended audience, by giving them a voice and invite them to help you plan the event. You'll empower them and they'll be eager to help you make decisions.

Church entities could do this more often. Corporations do it regularly.

VitaminWater created a "Flavor Creator Lab" through a Facebook application and let its users vote on new flavor design labels andshare their opinions about new products. Through this process, a new product was born, and most importantly, VitaminWater empowered its users, who are likely to become customers.

Starbucks -- the most mentioned word on Twitter -- doesn't only use its SNS for product promotion, it also uses them to receive ideas from users of these platforms and then applies those changes to its services. Chase Bank and others have used SNS to have users vote on corporate charity sponsorships.

While these corporations increase their visibility and Facebook participation, most importantly, they are building relationships.

Getting the participation of users in the planning stages will increase the chance of turning those SNS users into an audience for your event.

Even just adding this tip to your SNS invitation, you are likely to boost participation in the Golden Angels' 30th Anniversary Concert. In addition to posting the date, time and location, the event promoter can identify an aspect of the program where users can contribute. For example, see how much more engaging the following announcement is than the previous one:

Help us choose an opening & closing song for the Golden Angels 30th Anniversary Concert! Submit your favorite, along with why the song is special to you, and you will be entered to win a Golden Angels CD, which will be presented at the:

Golden Angels 30th Anniversary Concert

6 p.m. Saturday, January 8

Sahmyook University Church, Seoul, Korea

Facebook and Twitter can be effective tools for ministry as long as you build relationships with people by making them your partners.

Whoever heard of effectively building a relationship with a person or group without listening? Just telling people stuff is so five years ago.

--Chanmin Chung is originally from South Korea and currently serves as a production manager at the Al-Waad Media Center in Beirut, Lebanon