Have you ever met that super-creepy guy at a party who splits his time between talking about how amazing he is or making lewd comments to anything that moves and breathes? It’s pretty obvious in 2 seconds that he doesn’t care about anybody else and he’s just there to “score”. Let’s call him Larry (had to pick a name – my apologies to any Larry’s out there).

Nobody wants to be Larry.

People try and avoid Larry at all costs.

Yet it seems that most businesses approach social media – AKA The Great Online Party – EXACTLY that creepy, self-serving way.

Every post is them trying to “score” with customers.

HUGE DEALS. MY PRODUCTS ARE AMAZING. I’M YOUR TRUSTED ADVISOR. I’VE GOT A DEAL FOR YOU. LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME.

This is what happens when businesses get in in their heads that social media is just another channel to sell their wares on.

It’s not.

So stop it.

Social media is simply the name for what we do whenever we have a spare moment. We pickup our phones or pop open a web browser and start looking for a quick hit (or, if you’re a parent of young kids and have to “go”, the longest hit possible) of entertainment, attention, or connection.

For a lot of us, it’s more than just distraction – it’s an outlet for creativity, an avenue for learning, a place to socialize, or even a spot for doing some good in this world.

It’s not just an app on our phones – it is a big part of the way we connect in our lives.

And here in the midst it, we’ve got Larry poking his head around the corner of every room in the house shouting, “Hey, ladies, I’ve got a 40 of Jägermeister and 2 free tickets to the hockey game if you’ll just Like and Share.”

Sure, in that moment, there probably are some people that wouldn’t mind the 6-pack or the free tickets so they agree to hang out.

But most other people are like, “Excuse me, weird dude, shut up – we’re trying to carry on a conversation.”

And even the people that do agree to hang out with Larry, they aren’t in it because they like the guy at all – they just wanted his free stuff.

While they may talk about the drinks or the game, they’re certainly doing their best to leave him out of the story.

Contrast that with Greg. You probably didn’t notice him immediately. But he was there making everyone feel great about being at the party.

He was engaging people in conversation, asking them great questions, introducing people to each other, and telling some amazing stories.

He knows most people at the party because he’s a fantastic listener so people naturally join his conversation circle.

Greg’s the kinda guy you always look forward to seeing at the party because he’ll remember your name, that it’s your birthday coming up, tell you about something new and fascinating he’s learned, and chances are, he has someone really interesting to introduce you to.

You feel like Greg really cares about you. And it’s because he does.

And whenever two friends get together after the party, the conversation always ends up on, “Wow, did you meet Greg?! What a great guy.”

THAT is what quality content for social media looks like. It isn’t about you or your business. It’s about bringing value to your customers and showing them that you care.

It’s not about advertising.

It’s building relationships one at a time by telling great stories, giving real-world advice, listening, and having great conversations.

If you stop and think about the businesses you actually talk to and interact with in the social spaces, you’re going to realize they are doing those things.

And it’s a pretty incredible opportunity when you think about it.

You can have conversations with your customers without having to pickup the phone or have them set foot in your business – and you can have that conversation in public with 100 people listening in.

Do it wrong, sure it might not go well.

But do it right and your business can explode as you leverage word-of-mouth like never before.

That’s how you approach The Great Online Party and crush it.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying you can’t advertise on social. It’s actually one of the best places to advertise. But it shouldn’t be the core of your strategy and it’s not going to yield anywhere near the long-term results of doing what I said above. It’s a conversation for another 6 blog posts. Just trying to make a point here.

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