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Note to marketers: Shut up, and listen. Actually listen to what your customers are saying. Just because you have a Facebook page, or a Twitter account does not mean that you are social whatsoever.

What is social?

Social is a fuzzy term that has many different definitions, but it all points towards the same general direction: Organisms interact with organisms irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary. Social includes attitudes, orientations and behaviours of all individuals towards each other. It also takes into account the interests, intentions, and needs of other people. When one is social, one needs companionship, and therefore is best suited to live in a community. People seek to be social for pleasure.

The one way message

Most companies are treating social media the same way as they would treat Television or Radio advertising. A company thinks it can just create some ad, share it on multiple social networks repeatedly, and get results from it. But social media simply doesn’t work that way. Why? Because social media is the same thing as a social event: People want to gather, informally, and simply, well… be social!

People are tired of receiving a one-way message from companies. They are tired of being bombarded by hundreds of different persuasive messages from hundreds of different companies that aren’t even relevant to them; it isn’t pleasurable. Nobody wants to go on Facebook to “like” a brand if all the company does is talk about itself all the time. So what are you, as a company, going to do about it? Here are a few ideas that might help you get on the social media ‘bandwagon’ and become a ‘superstar’ instead of a dull, one-sided advertising channel:

  1. Social comes from within. Companies that are fun and energetic, and that live a social culture outside of social media will be the ones that thrive on social networks.
  2. Shut up, and listen to what your customers are saying, then share content that they like. If you’re sharing content that your customers don’t care about, nobody will listen.
  3. Now that you’ve listened, talk! Engage with your customers. Let them know that you are there, and that you are relevant to them.
  4. Provide value in your content. Don’t simply post company updates if your customers don’t receive value from it. Share stories, case studies, white papers, coupons, entertaining videos, etc.
  5. Be transparent. Show your customers what you’re made of. Be authentic. Show personality. Show gratitude to your customers, let them know you care!
  6. Always respond to comments, whether they are good, bad, or ugly.
  7. Be ready to relinquish control. Your customers have a story, let them tell it. Embrace content from others, and grow your community.
  8. Most importantly, be remarkable! Playing it safe is the most risky thing you can do. If you play it safe on social media, you’ll most likely become boring, and your fans will be non-existent. So spice it up, take a risk, and do something remarkable!

Notice how I never mention a specific social ‘media’ in this list? It’s because social is irrelevant to the ‘media’ (network). Choose the channel that is most suitable for you, and apply the above list to it. Doesn’t matter if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, all of the above apply to any network. Crazy huh?

Social media isn’t about the ‘media’? Interesting…

So what is your advice for social media? Do you take a holistic approach to it, or do you focus on each individual networks independently? Please share in the comments bellow!