The true power of social media

The Six Magic Words That Signal Social Media Success

When I attended a recent conference in the city I had already been engaging with various attendees and sponsors via social media for some time. I looked for those who were active in social and took the time to interact with them about the general theme and their interests. On the first morning of the event as we gathered around the coffee stand I was struck by something that was said to me – the six magic words of social media success.

Social media success in six words

What was said to me was simple but profound. I thought to myself “this is the biggest message that I can deliver to those who don’t yet get what social is all about”.

Of course we can’t blame people for not getting it. On one hand they have been overrun by noise generated by marketers whose mindset is that social media is social media marketing and that it’s “just another channel” to pump out mindless guff. The idea that social media marketing is 1% of what social media can deliver has never occurred to those who have been turned off by social media marketers.

On the other hand they view lack of “proof” of an ROI as proof that social media is simply a fad for interns to pursue in the corner – “don’t spend too much time on it” – and nothing to do with them and their business. Now, social media ROI is a pretty complex question and especially when you start to understand “dark social” and things that aren’t even measureable but which are creating value. But “official” business case ROI is again only a small part of the social media story, unless you can put a value on relationships.

The six words that resounded with me came from a person who recognised me from our social media chats prior to the conference. He said “You’re Walter? I feel like I know you“.

I feel like I know you

How good it that? How powerful is that? That is the true power of social media. There’s an element of friendship in that comment purely based on online interactions in social media. That’s the power, that is phenomenal. It’s nothing to do with social media marketing, and nothing to do with ROI. It’s about being human and human-to-human and creating friendships as you go about creating your business.

Power of Social Media

But don’t take my word for it. See what IBM VP Ed Brill says in a recent profile:

Question: Who have you learnt most from by following them on Twitter?
Ed Brill: Jonathan Levitt, VP at Media Experts. We still have never met in person but I feel like he is speaking to me personally with content that is always on target.

Jonathan Levitt is able to make Ed Brill “feel like he is talking to him personally” in the same way a great performer interacts with his audience in a theatre! That’s incredible and that’s the power of social media. No marketing, no BS, and no ROI (giving out value for sure, but with no expectation in return).

By pure coincidence I also recently picked up on this blog post by another IBM social business legend Sandy Carter. It’s a short video but if you want skip to about the 2:40 mark. She tells a story of how she was asked by a significant prospect to meet in London after he learnt from Twitter that she planned to travel there shortly. The London-based IBM account team had tried without success to see this prospect many times, and Sandy, as the meeting concluded, asked why he had not been willing to receive them. The answer, as above in the Ed Brill case, embodies the true power of social media to help people connect and start to build friendship.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

So now, when you ponder social and why – what’s in it for me and my business – think of what it might mean to you to have people approach you, wherever you may find yourself in the world – and say “I feel like I know you“.

This is priceless, and this is what social media is all about.

Your mission is to make this happen for you, and to be amazed that it does happen.

Walter Adamson

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