Those of you who see social media as a marketing- or customer service tool, are missing the point. Yes it can be used for these purposes and can be very powerful. But that’s not its primary function. And that is precisely why it is so powerful.
Social media is a way to reach out to a community of people. It is a way to communicate, one that is based on existing and newly created interhuman relations. These links between people are the structure of a community. Not just any community, it is based on individual preferences, it is ever-changing and it isn’t always very transparent. It is very hard to “game” this system, because it is based on a spontaneous order.
And that is why I love it. I don’t like massive top down media and carpet bomb-advertising. It has turned advertising and marketing into something distasteful. People dislike advertising, yet companies keep pumping billions in advertising to woo the people. If a girl tells you she doesn’t like roses, you shouldn’t respond simply by giving her even more roses.
The new way is about being genuine, honest and to communicate via conversation, not a top down message. Seth Godin advocates the principle of “permission marketing” where people are contacted about things that they find genuinely interesting, in a way that they like and only after they have chosen to be contacted in that way. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the “thank you economy”, Steven Van Belleghem talks about the “conversation manager”.
If you look at the principles behind their ideas, you will find that they are consistent, logical and honest. Honesty is the new marketing. And you can’t fake it. Or perhaps you can, but it’s easier if you don’t need to.
For me, it all began with a great book that you should all read. Go buy it now. I’ll wait. Do you have it? Have you read it? Start now!
That book is “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. It was written in the 1930’s and if you are anything like me, reading it will be a revelation. Not because you find things that are so improbable, but precisely because you will find it to be so logical. People with a decent amount of common sense will figure out all these things without reading the book, in time. But reading it is a shortcut. One I truly hope you take.
And that’s it. That’s how I work. I have conversations, I find out what individuals want, what the community buzzes about. In the digital age, individuals are worth so much more than they used to be. I try to help them with their problems, I try to do something neat with their suggestions and above all I try to make them see that they are important, that they are the whole point of the community. I, and through me the brand, am just one participant. The community is so much bigger than the brand.
So, would you like to have a conversation? I’m ready.