Be human

Photo credit: markheybo via flickr, some rights reserved

Photo credit: markheybo via flickr, some rights reserved

My colleague and social media skeptic, Pat, sent me The Ad Contrarian’s latest blog. In it, Bob Hoffman talks about how there has been a recent flood of anti-social media reporting in the press. While he doesn’t believe in the Gallup poll that sparked this reporting or in the idea of “engagement,” the referenced poll reported that most Americans say social media has no effect on purchases. He goes on to blame the social media industry itself – and an unthinking trade press – for creating this problem.

Earlier this week, the same coworker sent me a link to PR News’ Social Media 20/20 Summit, with a tongue-in-cheek comment about how valuable it would be for me to attend. And with sessions like “No Visuals? No Problem! Foolproof Ways to Find & Create Shareable Visual Content for Your Brand,” I can see why. Now, I am sure there will be some valuable insights that are shared throughout the day, but I can’t help but agree with the Ad Contrarian. It’s kind of all BS.

This reminded me of Gary Vaynerchuk’s recent talk at this year’s Business Marketing Association conference, which, as I said before, was the most compelling social media talk I’ve attended. Because his message was so simple:

Be human.

Social media is not a sales platform or a brand engagement tool or whatever else a self-proclaimed social media ninja (or guru or whatever catchy moniker they gave themselves to make sure you know they Mean BusinessTM) told you. It is simply this – another form of communication, just like the telegraph and telephone before.

Step one to a successful social media strategy is to simply be human. Treat people kindly. Be interesting. When someone talks to you, talk back. Don’t be aggressive, especially when it comes to sales. People don’t like that face to face, and they don’t like it online. Get to know people. Be considerate. And so on.

Understanding the role of social media, and if there is a role there for your brand, will help set realistic expectations and avoid questions like, “Yeah, but how many sales were tied to our Facebook page last year?”

But if you find yourself struggling to define social media’s role in your organization, perhaps this site will help. (Warning: strong language)

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