Getting Traction Requires Real Interaction And Relationships

To get results like these, or like this, you need to have plenty of conversations that look a lot more like this and like this first.

This is a point I beat into the ground often, but it’s hard to overcome that combination of easy access and perceived speed when you start using social media.  It’s so simple to tweet, it’s easy to fall into using Twitter as a broadcast PA system of weak ties and not think of forging strong ties through real interaction.  On Facebook, events have become a marketer’s spam method of choice, and little thought goes into the cost of hammering at people’s attention like that.

The thing to remember is that social media is a channel through which people can opt out of following, liking, connecting or in any way paying attention to you just as easily as they first connect. Social media makes your message a la carte and secondary, and your overall human interaction level primary.

This shift in importance is hard for the business owner operating under the pressure of a stressed economy to grasp. “It’s fast to log in so it must be fast to get results if we just take a hammer to the problem, right?” is a common thought process I see companies going through.  To these companies and marketers so in a hurry I say Slow Down.

Consumers want to be connected and understood so they can find things of real value online. If you aren’t doing that, then you will be blocked, reported for spam, un-followed, de-linked and, if noisy enough, become a brand people avoid even in your brick and mortar stores, if you have them. How do you become helpful enough, interesting enough and real enough for a customer to transition to a focus on your brand as well as on the initial conversations they have with you?

Dave from Nordstrom‘s is a good recent example of an unobtrusive way you can empower your business through a softer, yet more effective and targeted approach to social media. Zappos is another example of a company who engages with compassion, as is Jet Blue, and there are many people like Gary Vaynerchuck who are just as passionate about their interests outside of work and about talking to you about them as they are about their business.

When asked who to follow on these services I always tell people to look for passion – even if their main purpose is to be present online for work – passion shines through when someone is being authentic – and interaction with real people (in the form of status messages, @ replies on Twitter, comments on blogs and Facebook, and other person to person conversations about more than just work).  If your network isn’t passionate and involved, you only get as much value as a plain cheese sandwich. If you create and involved network, you’ll build something you can count on even as services come and go.

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