I wish we still referred to social media as a social network.
There’s an inherent difference between the two terms, and because we refer to social media as simply, “social media,” we’re missing the whole point.
What we think of when we hear the term “media”
I know what I think of. I think of newspapers, magazines, television . . . all of these one-way information sources that depend on viewers or readers, but no interaction. It requires no back and forth.
I also think of advertisements. I think of flash and cultivating short attention spans. To me, media is more than how we categorize a way in which we deliver information. To me, it has extra context that clearly defines our relationship with information.
What we think of when we hear the term “network”
The word “network” is something completely different. A network is a system of information, and more importantly, to me, I think of people. I think of my network as a group of colleagues, friends, family and well-wishers – people I can turn to when I’m looking for some professional references, referrals or advice.
Reaching out to my network is very different that me reaching out through media.
Now you see the problem
The Aaron Sorkin movie about Facebook as called The Social Network, and I honestly think it was the last time I heard anyone refer to Facebook as a social network instead of social media. The purposeful change in how we talk about social media or social networking has created a lot of confusion for business owners who want to use networks like Facebook to market their businesses.
How do we market using media? We blast information in a pursuit of brand domination. We advertise and promote. We look for the direct return on investment. “I ran this coupon during this week. I should see X number of people redeem it or it didn’t work.”
How do we market when we network? We reach out to people we know. We find out how we can help them and how they can help us. When we market to our network, we focus on building relationships, adding value, and staying in touch. We don’t measure direct ROI but instead we measure the growth of our community which supports your success.
With social media marketing, you can do both: advertise and network. But most of us just treat it like media. It’s very much like showing up to a party and standing on a table and you just start shouting to a bunch of people who don’t want to listen to you. That’s not what the party is for. Parties, like social media, are chances for you to strengthen existing relationships and make new ones.
Why no one says, “I heard about you on Facebook.”
I just had a lovely consultation with a potential new client that is the brother-in-law of an old friend. Where did the potential new client hear of my company? My friend of course. Why on earth would my old friend remember or care to send me business? I can tell you that if my business and I weren’t so active on social media, it wouldn’t have occurred to her to refer him to us. She’s busy like everyone else. But we’re connected on a few different platforms and she sees the activity at work and on our business page. We keep ourselves top-of-mind for our followers who refer.
Even your closest friends, best customers, and even family need to be reminded how awesome you are.
Why don’t we take a few steps back and think about how to “network” on “social media?”
- Ask questions of your audience and respond to their answers
- Talk about your services, but offer helpful advice instead of heavy promotion all the time
- Respond quickly to questions from your audience
- Communicate directly with other businesses you want to network with online
- Compliment other people and businesses on their content or website
- Turn online relationships into in-person networking opportunities
- Reward active participants on your social media with gifts or special recognition
When you start treating your networks like networks, you’ll finally understand why social NETWORKING and social MEDIA are an important part of your on-going business strategy.