I have chosen to engage in the Social Media world because I believe in it. Plain and simple.
Do me a favor – say the words, “Social Media”. Your accent was on the word “Media”, wasn’t it? Now try it again with accenting the word “Social”. Changes the way you look at it, yes? It is almost awkward to change the emphasis to the first word.
Just as awkward were my first experiences in this cyber universe as I tripped over terms such as tweets and posts, friends, likes, followers, hashtags, shortened URL’s, pages, etc.; my tongue tied on Twitter translations and Facebook faux pas. Twitter for Dummies not only became my bible, but a reflection of my intelligence. I knew what I had to do, tackle it all “head on” and keep on going. Not only did I have to prove to myself I could be Social Media savvy, I need to convince potential clients I was somewhat of an expert, and that this unfamiliar form of branding their business was now the way to go! I had to sell something that was an anomaly.
The best Miriam-Webster definitions I could find that relate are these: Social: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group. Media: a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression. If I understand this correctly, Social Media is then an interaction of the individual or group through a medium in order to cultivate, convey or express. Each singularly makes sense. Together, it makes even more sense.
It is important to note that the recognized traditional forms of medium (old Media) such as newspapers, TV, radio, magazines are only one sided and lack the “interaction” factor. We cannot readily or immediately talk back to these medium forms, ask questions, or make comments. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (new Media) promote “interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content.” (from Wikepedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_media) The “old media” realized the importance of feedback and created sites where society can voice their opinions and/or comments. However, it does not compare to the power of “new media” on your business.
Typically, with putting emphasis on the word “Media”, people will associate the experiences they had with “old Media”, the pushing of messages out and onto us. Here’s where the problem lies. We know what we know – and we know to switch channels and stations when the commercials air, read only the stories that enticed us to buy the magazine or newspaper in the first place. If we do not like what we are seeing, hearing or reading, we turn it off, close it up, and throw it away. We are not “buying into” the message they are presenting, but have no immediate way to let them know that. Am I right? Are you with me?
Social Media itself (accent on “Social”), is not media at all. It is simply a conversation between two or more people. Social Media is not Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any of the other sites out there. It is, however, the ability to have conversations with others online. These particular sites are the means to do it. People who choose to “follow” an individual/organization/business, and stay following them on any of these sites is doing so because they see and/or feel the value in their choice.
Twitter, et al, are not places to use for only sending out ads and post updates. That would be the “pushing” part we, as consumers, do not like. People are talking about our businesses all the time, whether we/you are associated with a Fortune 500 company or a mom and pop organization or somewhere in between. It is our choice to be part of those conversations. Look at it this way – if you go to a party/networking event just to pass out your card, and then leave as soon as you do, who is going to remember you? The impression is that you want to be part of the “party”, but your actions show otherwise. Interaction is the key.
Scott Stratten, in his book “UnMarketing”, takes this approach. “If you want to be successful in social media you have to build up your social currency. … Think of it this way. You wouldn’t open a business bank account and ask to withdraw $5,000 before depositing anything. The banker would think you are looney. Yet people go on social media, open their account, send out a few pitches for their mediocre e-book, and then complain to me that this social media stuff “doesn’t work.” You have to invest something before withdrawing.”
People who engage on Twitter, Facebook, LinledIn and whatever other site they choose, want to “socialize”. They want to have input, be part of shaping your business for the better or tell you they like what you are currently doing/saying. They want to express to you the pros and cons of what they are seeing, hearing or reading. When they feel they are being heard, their opinions are being recognized and acknowledged, they will promote your business, “buy into” your product or service, and “follow” you for life. What better ROI than this? You will have a loyal consumer/customer/client that influences others to buy your product or service because they trust you, like you, believe in you both as a person/employee/owner and as a company. Whether they actually purchase your product/service immediately, they will have impacted their group of followers and connected them to you. You become, for them, the thought leader, (do I dare say “expert”?) in your industry. If they don’t need you now, they will, statistic show, need you later.
It is time to come out of our cocoons and become social butterflies, accent on the “Social”.