What is social media?
We know that media can be audio, video or live presentations of ideas, stories or information. How does the word “social” connect with that? When you write a blog post or article and publish it (digital or print) its media.
What makes it social? Where you publish it? Does Facebook make an article social?
The difference lies in now necessarily what we say or even where we publish. The real difference is how the receiver acquires the content.
When we ‘tune in’ to watch a television program, we are seeking entertainment or information from a media source. When we schedule our life to watch a program, we are engaged with that media on a one-on-one basis. Even when a commercial interrupts the program (how else can they afford to entertain us, Tivo users!) the media is a platform for information dissemination. Reading a newspaper, listening to the radio or watching the television is one-way communication.
There is nothing social about it.
When a group of people have an “American Idol” party or post the results of the competition on Facebook, the same television program becomes social. The manner in which we schedule our viewing, who we view it with and even WHY we view the media becomes a social event or experience.
Social media has been around since the gladiators battled at the coliseum. It is nothing new, mind you. Only the technology and content itself has changed (some more than others). Broadcasting content to a user in a digital format doesn’t create a social experience.
People make it so.
Next time you post a status update on Facebook or share a particular video, article or anecdote, remember you are a broadcaster. You are a media channel. You can advertise yourself on Facebook and post articles and information about your company or your experience. You have now joined the ranks of marketers and advertisers interrupting our otherwise social experience.
Does this strategy work?
Of course not. Viewers of your media channel are there for entertainment and information. Your interruption is ignored as easily as a Tivo user avoids commercials.
To truly communicate your ideas in social media, you must engage your followers with a social experience. The rise of product placement in shows like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” give testament to the wave of influence of social media. We experience the joy a family has with their new home, rebuilt lovingly with Sears power tools. Sears, of course, doubles down and has ads as well. But the incredible power of games, contests and give-aways in a social setting underscores the trend in communication.
For entrepreneurs, engaging WITH your tribe is more important than communicating to them. Your engagement must be there to build association, trust and comfort. Those words sound very social because they are. Socially engaging with your fans means you share personal information, stories, and even pictures of your goofy brother-in-law. Sure, you can step up to product placement by putting your MLM product in the picture…why not? Sears does it.
The next time you think broadcasting a pitch or “testimonial” from a client on your Facebook wall is social consider what YOU look at from your friends and fans, first. When you engage socially with your tribe, you are more likely to transform prospects into clients. Your communication becomes not only interesting, but also welcome and anticipated.
Social media is here to stay…at least until we get sick of it.