What Social Media is REALLY About
Nowadays, a lot of people think that social media is all about sharing content, tweeting interesting tidbits, or posting the coolest infographic. And while all of these are indeed true, a lot of us seem to have lost track of the most fundamental purpose of social media: Connecting. No, I'm not just referring to virtual connections in the form of likes and followers; I'm talking about actual connections. Connections so genuine, that they actually exist in the real world.
The problem with most marketers nowadays is that they embed themselves too much in the social web, that they disregard the important link between social media and the outside world. Remember, your customers are real people too, and you won't catch their attention if you just keep posting content like a robot.
Always keep in mind that you have to pay attention to other people first, before they notice you. With that said, why not spend a few minutes every day helping those in your social networks? Answer their questions. Retweet or share their content. If you happen to be in the same city or location as they are, attend events or go to meet-ups and conferences with them. And most importantly, be real. Be genuine and thoughtful in your actions and compliments, and steer clear from generic comments like "that's great!" (People can see right through them, anyway.)
Indeed, paying attention to others can really do wonders for your brand. Don't believe me? Check out the examples below.
1. Peter Shankman and Morton's Steakhouse – Back in August of this year, renowned author/speaker/HARO founder Peter Shankman was on a flight back to Newark from Florida. Before takeoff, he tweeted the following:
Take note that he meant this tweet as a joke, and wasn't expecting anything "other than a bunch of giggles." So you could just imagine his surprise when a Morton's server surprised him at the terminal with 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, one order of Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, and Morton's signature bread, complete with two napkins, and silverware.
Shankman was ecstatic and everyone, from his followers to the Huffington Post noticed. Morton's Steakhouse got a lot of love from the Twitterverse (Shankman has over 100k followers) and received tons of publicity for their excellent Twitter skills and customer service.
Now, you're probably thinking "But I don't have a steakhouse!" That may be true, but there are a bunch of lessons here that every type of business can learn. As Shankman wrote in his blog, the key takeaway in this incident is:
Stay on top of what people are saying about you. Respond accordingly. Perhaps most importantly, have a chain of command in place that actually lets you do these things in real time.
2. Brotips – Let's start with a few statistics: Brotips currently has over 450,000 Twitter followers, 300,000+ Tumblr users, 270,000 Facebook likes, and 2.5 million monthly visitors. For a website that simply provides "tips" for guys, those numbers are staggering.
What's their story? Brotips actually started all because of a witty Facebook comment. One of the founders, Dominique Barfield, had a schoolmate who was having girl problems. This person started venting out on Facebook, and a lot of people started talking and replying to his post. Barfield then added a comment, saying, "There's a 99% chance that you're awesome. Act like it." That single post went viral and was repeated on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr over 140,000 times in just a mere 12 hours.
This was when Barfield and his friends got the idea of starting a Tumblr blog full of witty tips and comments for guys. The rest is history.
The lesson to be learned from Brotips is that sometimes, you only have to be yourself to get a wide audience. When Barfield posted that Facebook comment, he wasn't trying to produce viral content; he was just being his usual self. And as it turns out, his wit was all Brotips needed to get started.
3. Charles Sipe, Ian Lurie, and Diet Coke – Ian Lurie (founder of Internet Marketing company Portent) opened the company fridge looking for a Diet Coke only to find out that they were out of it. He then tweeted, "Nooooooooooooooooo. The office is out of Diet Coke!"
Back at the Sparkplug Digital office (which happened to be 15 minutes away from Portent) Charles Sipe read the tweet and decided to pick up 12 packs of Diet Coke and wrote a note that read, "Hi Ian. I saw on twitter that you were out of Diet Coke. Cheers! Charles, aka @charlessipe". Sipe delivered it to the Portent office, and after a few minutes, he read Lurie's tweet mentioning him:
It didn't stop there. According to a SEOMoz blog post by Sipe, he also got an email from Lurie saying that he "had definitely earned a link and it was one of the most brilliant displays of social media marketing he had ever seen." Later that night, Lurie posted a blog entry with a link to Sipe's company website. This was big, considering that Sipe's website is one of the most popular marketing blogs and "has a domain authority of 70 and links from 1,674 domains according to SEOMoz."
This Diet Coke incident is another perfect example of how Internet marketers can use social media to establish relationships in real life. This is one of the reasons why you should be genuinely helpful to the people in your network. I'm not saying that you'll be able to get links out of your good deeds every single time, but you're bound to brighten up someone's day, and maybe even get some loyal customers out of it.