All you ever hear the majority of the time when people start talking about social media is numbers. Number of followers, number of people you are following, number of friends and web stats like number of pageviews. Whether or not the influx of ‘famous’ people onto things like Twitter actually do anything to improve the experience of these services is open to debate. The one thing that they do though, is increase the supposed importance of numbers.
The only ones that are truly interested in the numbers are marketers and public relation firms as it is those numbers that they use to sell the importance of social media to their clients. The problem is that those numbers they use are the wrong enticement.
I have never hidden, nor will I ever hide, my distaste for most marketers or public relation firms and how they abuse social media. The majority of them pound you with useless email pitches that they would have known was a waste of time had they taken the time to develop a relationship with you. Social media is the same, if not more so.
In literally a split second a PR campaign for a company can be totally ruined due to the power of Twitter and Friendfeed. The tsunami of blogger and service members reaction to a stupid pitch can have a longer lasting effect than ever before – just think of the Motrin Mommies. Do you imagine that Motrin can ever run another ‘social media’ campaign that won’t be tainted by that serious misstep?
That doesn’t mean that companies can’t successfully navigate the minefield of social media marketing but they have to do it with smarts and by ignoring the numbers.
Companies, and their hired guns, have to realize that numbers don’t mean squat in the social media world. It is all about reputation and relationships. Not just theirs but also the people they reach out to in their move into this new territory.
Mack Collier from The Viral Garden has a perfect post today illustrating how companies can do this the right way. In part he says
I’ve blogged about this before, but I think many companies target the wrong ‘influencers’. Traffic and subscribers are great, but you need to be very mindful of reaching out to people that are actively engaged with their readers, and those that seem to have developed an affinity with the people that read their blogs and followed them on Twitter. In short, for the Citi Forward webcast, Tami wasn’t looking necessarily for the ‘biggest’ or those with the highest number of subscribers to their blog, but for the people that were the most connected to and respected by others. That denotes true ‘influence’ to me.
This was all about reaching out to those people within your circles that you know will be interested, not sending blind emails that end up in the trash or tweets that will lose followers. This was all about reaching out to people who have earned the respect of their followers, not about pitching those with hundreds of thousands of followers.
Mack’s post is a good case study of a company that took the time and reached out to people who understand this new world of social media. People who aren’t interested in just going for the numbers but rather understand that influence and relationship is the true currency of social media.
Update: George Colony just posted this, or at least it just hit my feed reader, and it is another good example of why companies need to concentrate on the relationships rather than the numbers
[graphic courtesy of Hello Viking]
The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, uses social extensively and now has 300 customer service reps at the company on Twitter. Why? As Tony says…"People don’t relate to companies, they relate to people." This is important insight. You, the 57 year old CEO may not use social, but that doesn’t mean that your customers don’t use social. You are not your customer.
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