Taking a Step Back from the Social Marketing Game
It was nearly 4 years ago when I took my first baby steps into the world of social media. Before that blustery February day in Toronto, I didn’t really even know any of this existed. Oh sure, I’d been around the Interwebz for several years – but it had been mostly work-related, in the high tech sector, working on internal web sites. I lived on the Web, but till then, the Web, for me, mostly existed inside a bubble.
When I first started blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, YouTubing and the like, I did it out of pure enjoyment. I was meeting some great people, making amazing friends. Blogging was exercise for me – I did it for the love of writing, the therapy of writing my thoughts down. I didn’t care if anyone read them. I was grateful when they did. I was surprised when they left a comment.
I used Twitter for the purely social aspects – I was meeting new people this way, at a time in my life when it was needed. Several of my close friends had recently moved away, and other friendships had simply ended for one reason or another. With Twitter, I discovered this whole network of new people to get to know, and get to know them, I did. What was most surprising to me was how many people in my own city I was able to meet this way – people like Stacey, and Joe, and Tom and Tracey, and Bob – and how many of these people I now consider close friends.
Facebook was a school reunion for me. People I never thought I’d hear from again were now poking me and sending me messages. I loved seeing what had become of my high school crush, or my best friend from 5th grade, or that girl I went to TV school with. Now that I’m reconnected with these people, my life goes on, and so does theirs – but it’s nice to know they are still here.
As a video nerd, YouTube seemed to me like the Holy Grail. The fact that anyone with 5 minutes and a video camera could now tell stories this way astounded me. I loved seeing the creative things people would come up with. I would spend hours on YouTube scanning through videos looking for hidden gems. It became my TV time.
I think if I asked you, you’d probably have some similar stories, especially if you came into this social media thing in the early days like I did. Creative expression, making new friends, and sharing stories was the driving force behind many peoples’ social media efforts back then.
But somewhere along the way, it all changed.
Once the world started to grab onto the fact that social media could be used to market and sell stuff, the focus shifted. We started blogging just to drive more traffic to our sites. We decided that tweeting about our stuff was more important than making friends. We set up Facebook pages to advertise our companies and products, and abandoned our high school buddies for more lucrative territory. We started to spend more time figuring out how to drive ROI and less time just saying “hi”.
Social media has become social marketing, and I don’t think that is such a good thing.
I know that this stuff works to build business – most of the new business in the doors of our company last year came from Twitter. That’s not a lie. But it wasn’t because I was tweeting up a storm telling the world to hire Jester Creative for their next web or video project. Nope. It was because I was blogging for fun, Twittering to make friends, and Facebooking to hang out with my school chums.
Nowadays, I advise people on ways to improve their online presence. I help them create better content, and tell better stories, to help them build trust and relationships and integrity online. I don’t teach people how to Tweet. I don’t train them on how to set up Facebook pages. I teach people how to tell their stories. It’s not unlike what I’ve done all along out here myself, really. I am grateful to be able to teach others what I’ve learned, and I owe a lot to those of you who have taught me.
We’re so caught up in click throughs and traffic and ROI nowadays. We go on and on about tactics and strategies that will get more people to come to our sites. If you’re in business, these are all good goals.
But what if, for just a while, you took a step back. What if your next blog post (or your next three) were just written from the heart, because you want to express your thoughts, without worrying about who was going to read it or retweet it or comment? What if you just spent some time hanging out on Twitter being silly? What if you DID talk about what you’re having for lunch today? What if you sent your high school crush a note just to say hi or happy birthday? What if you forgot for a while that you were out here to market yourself or your business?
I’m willing to bet that, not only will you have a better time, but you’ll have better results.
[photo credit steven depolo on Flickr]
Following your social media footsteps by about two years, I notice similarities. Initially, I watched pageviews, even thought of trying analytics, but then what for? Mostly the fun, as I have nothing to market except my opinions, and a weekly-ish blog post. Everything else is filter, re-focus, amplify. Making virtual connections, building real trust and friendship.
What if I DID not want to bore people tweeting about what I had for lunch?
There’s no rule, of course, saying that you have to tweet your lunch! But some of the best conversations I’ve had on Twitter have come out of food tweets! People love to talk about food, that’s for sure!
I couldn’t help but share this. I find that the most personal posts are the ones we tend to share most. We’re all humans after all, we’re driven by emotions.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re a marketer, brand, or small business. Behind all of them are people looking to make connections with other people. What happened was the marketers that invaded social media once the initial crowd was formed. They looked for ways to sell and eventually began to dominate the conversations. Then they made the rules that all new sign ups were to adhere to. They are the ones with the large followings that are quick to shine the light on those who operate differently. To each their own. Let us all find our unique use for social media just as we all have our different place in the world.
I would rather talk about what’s for lunch with people on Twitter than most business stuff. I can read books and blogs on business. I can’t make friends with books and blogs.
“I can’t make friends with books and blogs.” That’s the quote of the day!
Silly? I live for silly, I share where I eat because I like the food or the people. I poke people just to say hey! I love to read peoples stories because it means they’re real, honest and human. I love to meet people to talk about what many may consider to be useless topics and to have fun. I also like to help where I can. Lots of people ask me why, and can I measure impact? Maybe, yes I can…but that’s not what’s important. I have met more people and had more fun and learned so much through Social Media…than anything else in recent memory. People who don’t push, who stop just to say hi, who share some of their life…those are examples and role models for me. I won’t ‘sell’ Social Media, I will continue to be enthralled by all it brings me. Great blog Sue….you’ve nailed it. Again.
Isn’t having fun on Twitter simply more…fun? : )
Thanks for the great post. Thanks too for your Tweets and your pictures and all that you share 🙂 I love how you tell us what’s for dinner. I love how you chat back and forth on Twitter. I look for you every day because YOU make a difference.
Thank you Diane, I appreciate your kind words. I love that you’re here.
[…] Reminder: It’s OK to still be a person. RT @suzemuse: What if you DID tweet about what you had for lunch? http://bit.ly/d7zDSx […]
Thanks for this, Susan. We all need to hear this, and while your approach is very similar to the way I approach social media, both in my own life and with my clients, it’s very easy to step over the line when proposals and income are on the line. Great reminder, and I’ll be sharing this with everyone I know!
It’s that separation between business and play that is so ingrained in our heads…the times they are a changin!
This post so rocks!
I very much agree with your position and would only add that we are building toward a time where character building will become paramount to business building. It will become the default of businesses everywhere to serve the people that serve it. And, simply stated, the business will happen by default.
Take care to have an amazing week to come.
This post is so close to what I feel, it’s uncanny. Even your writing style reminds me of, well, me!
The problem is that most people just want to be told how to use Facebook/Twitter/YouTube, or how to blog. If I tell them it’s about communication, they don’t get it. If I try educating them about the importance of ‘the story’, I get blank looks.
And the concept of actually enjoying it, or putting some of themselves into their social media to enthuse and engage with people? Nope. Does not compute.
Social media. When I first got into it I was really bowled over by what was emerging and how it could be used. Now I do this for a living, well, when you’ve got the chocolate box, where’s the fun in chocolate?
You are right on, Susan. And so many people — including myself at times — need this reminder. It’s so easy to listen to all the marketers and get caught up in all the ROI rhetoric that we forget why we were attracted to social media in the first place and what worked best for us.
At Blogworld, Scott Stratten said “people share awesome.” Stories are awesome. Key messages — apologies to my marketing friends — are not.
Keep being awesome! 🙂
Rewinding time to come across your announcement here and sighing with the earlier bandwagon in relief and claps. Good for you for being yourself.
This leads me to a question: Your tagline in the header above, about sharing and being brilliant and all. When did you create that? Did *you* create it or someone else and, if so, who? Thanks.
P.S. If you reply to my comment, how will I know?