L&D group featured Ms Benita Dua, Head of Vanilla Skills Pvt. Ltd in its first CHAT WITH EXPERT session on WhatsApp. The topic was: Social Media- How can we leverage it better?Benita has been helping organizations increase their productivity, enhance their precious human capital and empower their leaders. Her niche is in Social Media, and not just from the marketing perspective but also from individual as well as organizational perspective too. She travels the world over to help people.

This event on the 15th April 2015 morning was a marathon chat session which lasted four and a half hours. Benita patiently answered questions posed by the members with great depth and substance. We have presented below an edited version of the Chat Session. The session was moderated by Surya Prakash Mohapatra, founder of the Learning and Development Group.

Question: Benita, Could you please share your initial thoughts on the topic?

Benita: There are many platforms on social media. When someone says I’m active on say, LinkedIn, what it means is that you login to it regularly, check your messages on it, read or interact with other members. Simply having an account doesn’t mean you are active on it. Which raises the question, so many platforms so which do I choose. Based on your target audience choose your platform, e.g., for professional audience use LinkedIn; but don’t use it like Facebook

Question: Is it advisable to have same contacts on Facebook and LinkedIn? Should I connect with a professional contact on Facebook, if he wants to?

Benita: It depends on your goal. However you can’t be two different people on two different platforms.

Question: Can you please shed some light on Pinterest as an L and D tool?

Benita Dua: Pinterest is a fantastic tool. It’s basically a virtual soft board where you pin and things that you like. If you like craft, you can find some amazing craft ideas there. It’s a gold mine for hair, nail art, recipes and other DIY ideas. It also has amazing links to articles. To give you an example, I have boards on various soft skills I train on. When I find an article a good article on say time management, I would take the pic in the article and pin it on the board which will then hyperlink it to the article. So if you followed my board, it would show on your home page and you could go read it too.

Question: In many organizations, we have internal community network. But, people hardly use those. How those platforms can be useful for individuals as well for organization and what are the main hindrances for the people to use that?

Benita: Internal platforms are fantastic for 2 things. 1. Being a part of the grapevine and finding information 2. Showing your skills n abilities, even achievements. All confidential information which you wouldn’t put on open platforms can go there. Possibly time and lack of understanding are the two main reasons people don’t use it.

Question: How will social media evolve in the long term ? How will our children use it say 10 years from now? Your views pls.

Benita: our children are already using social media. They’re looking for platforms where we’re not present. So, unless FB changes it approach, it might be dead or on its death bed in 10 years.

Question: How do we really know what  is true and credible in Social Media? What defines credibility I n social media?

Benita: I’ve been saying this for a while on other platforms and will say this here now- Don’t believe everything on the net. The credibility on the net can only be judged by consistency. If the same thing is said by a person on many platforms or if many people are saying the same thing, it might be believed

Question: How Much is too much when using Social Media?

Benita: When your social media use interferes in your work or negatively impacts your image, it is too much.

Question: How would you balance your strategy for different audience groups?

Benita: The rules for personal, professional and organisational are different. Let’s take the example of fund raising events. You will have to balance it based on your Target Audience. Fundraising events should target either individuals with high net worth or large organisations via the CSR route. While individuals are active on social media, the decision makers of corporate may or may not be. Hence balance it.

Question: I have a lot of content but unable to put it up for the paucity of time… can u recommend any platform that will help me to get more visibility in less time invested? Also my website content… can I know any ways that will help me to understand its SWOT

Benita: Have you heard of Hoot Suite, Buffer or Klout? These are sites that help you schedule your content and post it on platforms of your choice at the scheduled time. A few posts a day are free and some might charge you if you want to post more. I’d suggest you use a combination of the three and you won’t have to pay. Remember to first decide the image you want to create and the message you want to send out.  With regard to website content- SEO rules are constantly changing and your site needs to be updated regularly to keep up. Use a combination of visuals, text and even videos for the same. Don’t forget to add hyperlinks to your social media in the site and hyperlink to your site for your site.

Question: How vital is having a personal website and your own E-mail e.g., rajan.das@rajan-das.com as opposed to rajan.das@gmail.com? Or rajan.das@yahoo.com?

Benita: While I would love to say it doesn’t matter, sadly it does. People take you more seriously when you have a brand name behind you. But your own name at the tail end is a bit too much.For example, benita@vanillaskills.com has more credibility than benitadua@gmail.com. But benita@benita.com sounds pompous.

Question: What is SEO?

Benita: SEO is search engine optimisation. In simple terms, what do you do so that you’re on the top of Google’s search results.

Question: We are seeing great success stories of Social Media in terms of community collaboration..But why has enterprise social media not been very successful in bringing collaboration among employees ?

Benita: I think the reason SM works as community collaboration is because it fulfils a deep need in us to give. However, in an organisational context the insecurities take over. Competition leads to this insecurity and hence people want to hold on instead of giving. When an organisation is able to evolve culture of collaboration, it will see the results that communities are benefitting from. Till then, the challenges will remain