Thursday, March 22, 2012

Commercializing Relationships with Social Media: Epic Fail

Social media implies socialization, exchanges of communication, dialog and community through media, most commonly online media.  The purpose of social media is to engage, yet people often mistake their own, personal purpose for using social media as the primary purpose.
Time and again I see people or agencies treating social media like the holy grail of outreach for their products and services.  Just because it can be used to further your product, service or brand does not change the fact that social media was not created for that purpose.  Using a social platform to encourage community involvement with you or your company or even your product is fine.  But, you need to be “encouraging community” and not just using it as your commercial platform or online cork board where one way communications happens from you to the people you hope will see your message.

If you are posting one way communications, hoping that will encourage people to talk, you have failed at social media. Epic fail!


With the right incentive this might be true. I would come to what you build if there’s something in it for me. 

And there are the magic words. “Something in it for me.”

Your communication should consider what the receiver of this message will get out of it. Why waste your time posting things no one cares about? I actually have an answer for that. We do it because we don’t know better, just don’t comprehend social media or because the delivery of the message is more important to us than the recipient. 

So many marketers make the mistake of using analytics as their primary source of determining what to do and when.  They make a science of relationships for the purpose of motivating people to care.  There’s got to be an oxymoron in there somewhere.

Using number crunching feels good to marketers and to companies because they feel numbers don’t lie.  Here’s the thing about numbers; they can be manipulated according to agendas and they do not tell the whole story. Maybe they do for widgets, but certainly not for human beings. 

Using numbers to motivate people to care is like saying the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42.  We can put a spin on it so it sounds good and fits our agenda, but smart people will always look to the agenda of the person giving out those stats. The answer to life, the universe and everything really is 42. If you don’t believe me, Google it. Really. 

The fact is, like with most anything, you have to work hard at social media if you want to motivate people to care about you or whatever you are hoping to promote.  You have to establish relationships, build a brand, create and maintain an environment of mutual trust and loyalty. It will not be instant.  It will take ongoing effort.  It is harder to do than crunching numbers even if you suck at math.  You have to have energy to be successful at social media and maintaining relationships. 

When I see someone commercializing their relationships on social media I cringe.  I see it and I know that is a shining example of why people hate marketers.  Those kinds of marketers only care about themselves. They are self-centered and have no interest in you beyond what they want to use you for. I don’t like those types of marketers either.

There are success stories out there though.  There are people using social media to engage people with their brand or product. Those marketers know the magic solution isn’t found in analytics, it’s found in relationships.

And before the marketers of the group start to say I’m nay-saying analytics, I will say that I do use analytics.  I like to measure how I’m doing and see if there are any trends I should be aware of. But, I do it responsibly and I do it to improve myself, not to manipulate people. Analytics are great, but with great analytics comes great responsibility, and you should always use it for good.

No one wants to feel like a number. No one wants to read ads. No one wants to be manipulated or tricked. Stop commercializing your relationships.  People want to feel valued, involved, respected and they want to feel that you are as loyal to them as they are to you.  If you want that trust, respect, motivation and loyalty from them get it the old fashioned way; earn it.

Article by: Sheila Clover English CEO, Circle of Seven Productions

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