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What I Learned From Going To Third Grade Twice

Most people don’t know I went to third grade twice. Since my birthday is in late September my mom wanted to hold me back in Kindergarten because I was a year younger than all the other children starting school the same time. The principal of the school wouldn’t let her hold me back after I went through my first year of Kindergarten so I kept going through school a year younger than my classmates. My grades weren’t good and developmentally I was out of my league. When my family moved to a new state and a new school system a few years later I went to third grade a second time. Mom got her wish. I was held back a grade to catch up developmentally…it just happened a few years later than she wanted.

The funny thing about going to third grade twice is that it’s one thing to be taught a lesson but it’s another thing entirely to be ready to learn that lesson. The first time I went through third grade my grades were terrible and I lacked both focus and maturity. The second time I went through third grade I was a whole year older and was ready to learn everything a third grader should learn.

Developmentally I was ready for what third grade was trying to teach the second time around. From there on out I had good grades in school. I had a new foundation but more importantly I was ready to learn for the rest of my years in school.

Social Media and Third Grade
When I talk to businesses or nonprofit organizations about social media, I encounter two groups of people: those who are in “social media third grade” for the first time and those who are in it for the second time. The people in it for the first time aren’t really ready to make all the changes that social media requires of the organization to really be used well. They may have a Facebook page or a blog but it doesn’t mean they’re implementing social media most effectively.

The organizations that really excel with social media right now are in social media third grade for the second time. They’ve attempted some social media efforts already but are a bit (or a lot) disappointed with the results. Social media hasn’t lived up to the promise but now with some new perspective and readiness to learn everything that social media really requires of an organization, they’re ready to do it the right way. These are the companies that I see continually getting it right.

10 Statements: How Do You Know Which One You Are?
So, the big question is this: how do you know if you’re in third grade the first time or second time? Here are 10 statements to use for evaluation of your own organization:

You might be in third grade the first time if…

  1. Your organization doesn’t have a social media policy and therefore no guidelines about how employees should engage in social media.
  2. Your organization has a lot of fear when social media discussions pop up.
  3. Your organization hasn’t updated it’s blog in at least 30 days.
  4. Your organization doesn’t have someone who owns the social media efforts and keeps everything up to date.
  5. Your organization’s social media efforts started from the top down rather than the bottom up.
  6. You haven’t received a comment or “like” on your Facebook page in over a month.
  7. Your organization has had some social media failures and is now questioning whether it should be doing social media at all.
  8. Your organization is unwilling to become more transparent with products, services, or corporate information.
  9. Your organization wants to see a level of business results from social media that it doesn’t require from its traditional marketing efforts.
  10. Your organization doesn’t allow employees to access Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

So how did your organization do? If five or more of the statements above are true about your organization then you might very well be in social media third grade the first time. The good news is you can keep going and still succeed. You just need to start over with the right social media mindset and strategy. If few of the statements above apply to your organization you’re very likely well on your way. Keep it up!

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