What’s the Point of Social Media?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that question? How did you answer it? What if we ask someone else? Are they likely to give the same answer or a different one?

We’re also likely to give a different answer than people at the top social sites would give. So lets look at the point of several sites.

  • LinkedIn: To help professionals network and deepen the relationships they already have or are just developing.
  • Facebook: It’s changed in scope from its origins but Facebook allows us to engage with our friends and families on a more personal level sharing experiences, video, photo’s, etc.
  • Twitter: Twitter lets us stream micro thoughts to others and see what others are thinking or up to.
  • You Tube: Allows you to post to share experiences, entertainment, outrage, etc with others.

**Scot Allen’s response does a better job of describing the above tools. It’s worth the read.)

When you read through these descriptions there is a huge component missing if you are a business person. At no point in the descriptions does it say that any of these top sites were created to help you sell some product.

Billboards were created to sell products. Commercials are produced to sell product. Print Ads, radio ads, etc ……… So we have a set of tools that were not created to sell products and a set that were developed to sell products. What’s the problem?

Well for one people have started tuning out the channels designed to pitch them on a product or service. Second, everyone is so gaga over social media that there is simply too much buzz to do nothing. So what are you going to do?

  1. Quit using the same tactics in social media that you used in advertising: This is a channel that doesn’t want to be sold to …directly. Indirect means of selling can actually work very well.
  2. Quit expecting results overnight: This doesn’t mean that you can forget about ROI or other useful measurement, it just means you have to have some patience. If I want to send 1 million emails I buy an email list. If I want to reach 1,000,000 people in social media I need to build up my communities over a long period of time.
  3. Understand what it is you have to offer someone who chooses to connect, follow, or friend you. If I am a consumer in your target market and I choose to follow you what’s in it for me? Why should I engage or stick around? Here a hint … it needs to be at least one of these – interesting, exciting  relevant (per Michael Yoder)   , or valuable.

I used to list 5 or 10 things whenever I wrote a post like this, and I could list a lot more of things to do and not do. But, this is social networking so the giving and receiving should be equal or at least constantly changing like a see-saw.

So I’ve started the conversation with these three. Its up to you to keep the conversation going by adding your thoughts and ideas as comments.

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Published by

Sean Nelson

Sean has been a Keynote speaker at Norvax University, conducts social media workshops and webinars, and has released three books on LinkedIn and written several social media guides. Sean currently runs Social Media Sonar, which in addition to providing free resources, manages social media strategies and tactics for companies. He is also a partner in Surge Labs, a conversion rate optimization company, helping companies improve conversions and profitability through scientific testing of Landing Pages, Websites, Email communications, and Shopping Carts.