2011 kicks off with a post from Dave Briggs about the importance of personal/human relationships in social networks. Btw he writes a great blog about ‘technology, culture and the bits in between’.
When Marcie and I are talking to clients about how they can better use the social web – tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogging and so forth – one of the biggest hurdles we face is in convincing people that they have something worthwhile and valuable to say.
No matter whether we are talking with small business owners, communications professionals in large organisations or those involve in public sector projects, the fear of not having anything worthwhile to talk about seems to be a major blocking point.
‘After all,’ people say. ‘Nobody wants to hear about what I had for breakfast, or where I walked my dog at the weekend!’
The thing is, they probably do want to hear about just that.
The trick here is understanding the medium. Social media is not your company newsletter, or your newspaper advertising campaign. It’s closer to chats in the pub with your mates than traditional communications activity. With that in mind, it’s a different kind of message you’re trying to get across.
Social media and networking is above all about human beings and human relationships. It’s about building engagement with customers and prospective customers – and the way you do that is not by banging on and on about your company and what you do.
Think about it – if you’re at a party and all you talk about is work, it won’t be long before you’re left alone in the corner, examining the host’s CD collection.
Instead, the really successful users of tools like Twitter and Facebook build relationships with others online. These people tend to be just like popular people in real life: helpful, funny, generous and open.
So don’t be afraid to post what might seem at first to be trivial, or of limited interest. Much of the power of social media lies in serendipity - which probably drives people who like measuring stuff mad – and so by describing your dog walking route in one tweet might forge a link with a fellow dog walker who ends up being a vital business connection. It sounds vague and fluffy but it happens every single day.
This also has an impact on what persona you use to be active on the web.
It’s common sense to register your business name with all the popular social sites, for brand protection purposes, and by all means use this channel for publishing specific company related news or engaging around a specific topic. But remember, social networking is personal; folk are more inclined to become friends with people than companies.
So, to really maximise these tools, start tweeting or blogging in your own name, with your own photo on the account. Let people find the human being behind your organisation – what you’re interested in, what makes you tick, and yes, occasionally, what was in your sandwich this lunchtime.