Remember the “social” in social media

One of the most common mistakes that users of social media make is that they simply think “being there” is good enough. They don’t share much of their own lives or thoughts, other than hawking their wares, i.e. selling. They never retweet, reply, or use the “like” and “share” buttons on Facebook. They only talk about business. They never get personal. In essence, they forgot about the “social” in social media.

I had a very interesting conversation at a business reception a few weeks ago. I was talking to another person active on Twitter about this very subject — and about how some people believe they’re the cat’s meow of social media but make the big mistake of thinking that “volume equals quality”. Actually, people need to understand that content is the key to social media, not volume.

During the conversation, I described a local business person considered by many to “get” social media. They are, in fact, renowned for it and have garnered some publicity for it, as well. My take on the person was different, however. I remarked how I’d rarely — if ever — seen this person share anything about their own life — barely even mentioning a good restaurant in town or a movie they’ve seen lately. It was all business — and all about them. In fact, I’d stopped following them on Facebook and Twitter for that very reason.

The problem was that they were boring me to death. Zero to say other than stuff about their industry — and even that stuff wasn’t particularly interesting. It didn’t even have anything to do about the local market. I couldn’t care less about the market indicators in Zimbabwe (I’m exaggerating) in which they thought I’d be interested.

In fact, they are an expert in their field, but their use of social media could be much more social. So, during my conversation at the reception, I’d described this individual without mentioning their name and the person I was talking to blurted out the name right away. I laughed out loud. “So, I’m not the only one,” I said. Clearly, I wasn’t.

Lesson: If you think social media is going to do wonders for you simply by posting links related to your industry, you’re wrong. The fact is that we already realize you’re likely good at your job. A lot of other people are good at their jobs, too.

What we need to know is this: Why should I like you more than your competitor? Do you have pets? What do your kids do? What are your hobbies? Did you do anything dumb lately for which you can make fun of yourself? Lots of people in the world do good work. What we need to realize is that we tend to do business with people we like — and you’re wasting an opportunity on social media if you don’t realize that.

If you’re a real estate agent and only post links to the houses you have for sale, all you’re doing is knocking at my door (i.e. my Facebook newsfeed or Twitter feed) and trying to sell me something. There are a couple of hundred others in town who can do the same thing. What you need to do is differentiate yourself from the others personally, not professionally. Help me to like you as a person.

Promote a charity event for some friends. Share some links that you thought were funny. Congratulate someone in the community for doing something nice for others — and not for business reasons… just do it to be helpful and nice. If you’re on Twitter, strike up some conversations with people. If all you’re doing is posting links and talking about your business and wondering why social media isn’t the “miracle” it was all cracked up to be, it’s probably because you forgot the “social” part.

I say: Share. Be generous. Be personal. Help others. Be a real person, not a link-posting robot.

2 Responses to Remember the “social” in social media

  1. Great site, Brian. Love the banner. And, oh the post was very cool too LOL.

    Seriously, I’m finding many business people as well as those in marketing & PR simply don’t get it. And perhaps that’s because these people aren’t “social” to begin with. Some people just can’t buy into the fact that in social media, business IS personal.

    As for the question of numbers vs quality, I’m going to reply in the typical Canadian fashion, both matter – especially if you’re in the Social media business.
    If you want to be an influencer or procure clients, numbers definitely matter since most people use that as a measure of success.

    However, without great content to back it up, your 15 minutes of fame will last, well, 15 minutes.

  2. Thanks, Ray. Always appreicate the kind words.

    People need to remember that they need to be in the same room with poeople from time to time, too. LOL :)