You’re Using Social Media the Wrong Way

You're Doing it WrongYeah OK, it’s a provocative title for a blog post. Linkbait, some would call it. But you know what, in my experience this is true for 99% of the brands and companies using Facebook and Twitter and whatever else out there and, quite probably, many professional individuals as well. Why? Watch this.

[And I do mean WATCH it. Don’t skim through it; take yourself off to a quiet room if you have to; hell, even bookmark this page and come back to it if need’s be (and I know that’s a suicidal comment for a blogger to make, but in this instance, I don’t care). This is important.]

We can learn an incredible amount about social media use from this one simple video. And by ‘we’, I mean brands, companies, individuals, you and me. Because what social media does is unite people. It provides support mechanisms. It builds friendships. It builds communities. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an SME employing five people or if you’re Coca-Cola; if you’re not doing those things then you’re doing it wrong.

The Business of People

I’ve ‘known’ Gabrielle for a couple of years online, and I’d love to be able to call her a friend. But honestly, I can’t do that. We’re ‘Facebook friends’ if that counts? But really we’re acquaintances who’ve met though the social web. We’ve met in real life once, although she probably doesn’t even remember that. But it doesn’t matter. I have an immense amount of respect for Gabrielle for what she describes in this talk.

And let me be clear: it’s not pity or sympathy, it’s respect for who she is now and the way she has built a truly supportive community of friendships around her using Twitter and Facebook.

The problem with the way the overwhelming majority of companies and brands use social media is that they’re not like Gabrielle. Instead, they’re focused on sales and marketing and metrics. And I don’t just mean obvious metrics like follower numbers, I mean metrics like engagement rates and reach and click through rates and referral traffic and financial return and blah, blah, blah.

It’s all so scientific and mundane, whether or not you’re any good at doing it or measuring it. It’s driven by a desire to prove ROI, and with my business head on, I get it. It’s correct. BUT…what about the human element? What about building communities? What about connecting with people?

Social media can be an incredibly powerful weapon to build brand affinity and awareness and loyalty. But only if you talk to people like they’re human beings. We can’t all be Innocent or Skittles or Paddy Power or Oreo, but we can learn an awful lot from the way they behave. So if you’re in the marketing/selling mindset when it comes to social, enjoy the short-term benefits. But if you want to gain a long-term advantage, listen to Gabrielle.

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Posted by Paul Sutton

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