19 September 2013

Social Media Connect People with People, not People with Products

Twitter brought a coincidence to my professional life yesterday, and it made me think about how brands use -- and misuse -- social media.


For me, Twitter is a way to learn about #Marketing and #Advertising and network with people who do the same.  Somewhere along the way I met David Schwartz, a.k.a. @1ad_dad, a consultant from Nashville, Tennessee.  David is an enthusiastic networker, connecting groups of people in #FF (Follow Friday) groups, and I’m in one of those.  Occasionally I’ve spoken with a couple of marketers in the group.


Yesterday one of my colleagues said we were scheduled for a phone call with Justin Campana of JC Decaux.  Justin Campana?  That name sounded familiar.

Sure enough:  It was @Justin_Campana from the #FF gang.


We are so totally networking right now!
It was a fun phone call.  Building on the friendly hellos from social media, we realized we went to adjacent high schools and both like the New York Yankees.  Not incidentally we had a productive business conversation that will surely lead somewhere for both of us.

What are the lessons for marketers?

Connections are authentic.  Neither Justin nor I were really “selling” each other, and if we had been, neither one of us stalked the other on Twitter as part of a prospecting plan.  David had already introduced us, and we made the connection.  Frustratingly, though, many marketing messages barge right in on your social media experience with messages like "Isn't it time you cleaned your toilet?"  Social media connects people with people, not people with products.

People + People = Networks.  An early epiphany working with social media was that individual people rely on their networks (read: groups of friends) as gatekeepers.  Thus, the job for marketers is to figure out how you are going to connect with  -- be relevant to -- these networks.  Most marketing on using social media just tries to break through and rack up Likes or Followers.  

Connection first, conversation second.  In the same way, most social media conversation topics ("Did you know today is Talk Like a Pirate Day?") are just borrowing interest.  Your favorite brand of cookie has more fans or followers than the population of Venezuela because people like the product.  That allowed their genius to shine when the clever messages went out later.

Be patient.  Wait for coincidences like the one that arrived at my door yesterday.  You can artificially drive up Likes or Followers, but that won't cement any connections between people and your product.  That kind of relationship can only develop by being the best product you can be, and showing a genuine interest in others.

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