Growing up in a small Southern town in Alabama, one of our important community or neighborhood events was the church “social.” It might be a cookout for the Sunday School class, or perhaps an “ice cream social” for the entire congregation. What I remember most about these happy times was that the kids were playing games with each other, not just with toys. And the adults were sitting across from each other leaning forward to talk earnestly, about such things as whether Bobby would ever give Sue an engagement ring, or if the hot weather would ever break, how the first high school football practice went, or why the preacher didn’t stop at noon this week.
Bonds were formed. Trust was built. Common interests were discovered, and relationships were forged that later allowed people to engage in mutually beneficial activities as a result.
My point is that social really meant it. People talking to people. The trap for us as marketers is that we get so busy that we merely treat social media as just another form of media, that we try to use it to fling arrows of marketing messages into “targets” as if that were the only job we have. Instead, we need to remember that people want a relationship with our company or product, not merely to be targeted with messages. They want us to listen sometimes, to hear about their needs one-to-one and not just from a focus group somewhere, to understand how we can better deliver our product or create better pricing for them, or perhaps just make it in a new color this year.
If you want your social media “marketing” to work for the long term, first you must be social. That does not mean you can only chit chat about the weather, but it does require dialogue. Personally, I have a little time for chit chat, but I’m more interested in spending the bulk of time gaining an understanding of a mutual interest. To make your social media program work for your company, be sure you engage people by giving them a way to interact with you. Comment on their comments. Respond to their questions quickly with answers. Deliver valuable information, facts,be answers, and opinions (why do we cheapen it by calling it “content”?) that people want to know, and then discuss it with them in blogs, forums, email, and other ways that we can respond personally to their ideas.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you interested in socializing?