It sounds a bit like the iPhone4 vs. HTC phone spoof only you substitute, “I want social media” for “I want iPhone4.”
Generally the request comes from someone who was told that his or her company must play in the social media space. They know little about social media except what they read in the Life or Technology section of the newspaper or maybe it was a tidbit they pick up from a breakfast seminar.
My message to you: Social Media is not for everyone. But everyone can “do” social media.
Many brands fail to recognize that a social media vehicle like Twitter is a conversation, not an advertising platform (although many have tried, most have failed). If you understand this key point, the rest of this blog is likely not for you. You get “it”. However, I still invite everyone to read on.
Imagine you are in an investment group. You meet with your buddies once a week to talk about stocks. This goes on for a few months. Then all of a sudden one buddy shows up and starts talking about porn instead of the Dow Jones. You let it slide the first time, but you become suspicious. Next week he is talking about porn again. By week three it is like ‘see ya’… time to find a new investment club for your buddy as he is excommunicated from the group.
Twitter works in the same way.
People have conversations with other people. Instead of talking politics or sports with your core group of friends, the world is now your oyster and you have millions of people with similar interests with whom you can engage.
You can even continue these conversations offline and make new ‘real life’ friends. I’ve done it. My life is better for it. Hopefully I have provided the same in return.
But what happens when you cross your circle of online trust?
Same as the investment banker turned porn hound was punted, you are expelled from the group and your online name becomes mud.
Facebook is similar to Twitter, only you try harder to project your perfect life out to the world. You un-tag crappy photos. You only post good photos. And you constantly post happy status updates quoting the world’s greatest philosophers. For the most part, life is good.
But along came the brands. They want to be part of your circle of friends. It was all good as long as they provided value. Value can be found in different ways, but for the most part, brands must find a way to make your precious free time entertaining or exciting.
Social media is not rocket science. It is simply about communicating. Cavemen used drawings. Indigenous societies used smoke signals. Your grandparents may have sent a telegram while your parents had a rotary phone. The message is the same, the medium has evolved.
So as long as a brand is providing value it is OK. But imagine that brand only looked out for its interests and only communicated in its favour? Similar to the wasted kid at a high school party, you likely moved into another room where the atmosphere was less threatening.
Don’t get me wrong – brands are welcome in the social media sphere, but only if they play by the rules.
I looked the other day and apparently I “Like” 97 different things on Facebook. Who knew!
Most of the 97 things I “Like” are good to me. But once in a while, one fails to live up to the unwritten contract of providing value in exchange for my time. In one quick click they receive the kiss of death – an unlike, or god forbid, an un-friend.
The next time someone comes up to you and says they, “want social media” I would ask them a few questions:
Firstly, find out what their goals are and what will measure success.
Secondly, understand how they plan to provide value in return for ‘borrowing’ someone’s time.
Finally, make sure there is a mutual fit for both parties.
These questions are just a starting point.
But if you don’t pass this test, you may be offering up the GBs and the Wifis to your friends and to your community. If you choose to do so, do so at your own risk.
- Communicating online through social media vehicles is no different than communicating in person. The skill remains constant, the medium is what changes.
- Social media is not the right outlet for every brand; make sure you understand your goals before requesting social media as a promotion vehicle.
- Contribute to the community – I.C.E. (Interact, Communicate, Engage) – and you will be rewarded for your efforts.