Extremely Simple Explanation of Social Media

January 24, 2010

In response to a query on an industry forum I am part of, here were my thoughts on social media.

Question: I don’t want to visit Barnes & Noble for another “____ for Idiots” book. Can you provide a simple explanation.

Answer.

Nope, sorry. No simple explanation. Even the “Idiots” guides are 260 pages long and barely do the subject justice. So here is a “extremely brief” synopsis based on your request.

Think of two styles of web media/marketing.

Search, which has become the standard approach to web marketing. Someone, looking for what you have to offer, seeks you or a type of service or a specific product out. If you show up in response to that search in either the organic, paid or local listings, you have a potential prospect and lead.

Then secondly, this new and evolving thing called social media.

This new wave is less about getting in front of them to pitch yourself with overt marketing, it is much more akin to conversation. Think going to the pub or coffee shop and chatting with the regulars… versus standing in your shop talking about the wonder of your wares.

Social media is the coffee shop or the pub. You show up there to establish and build relationship. It is not a good place show up and force them into a conversation about your stuff.

Is it effective?

All depends on what your agenda is. For many it is noise or a nuisance. Some hate the time commitment. other don’t like being friends with too many people. Some discover in short order that none of their clients are even there. But for some others, there is considerable success to be had. Relationships to be nurtured.

But you can’t judge it the same way you do other media, specifically traditional media. It’s new and evolving.

I do business with those I know, like and trust. Social media is “one” such place to do it. In this new online coffee shop.

If, in the coffee shop conversation, you discover I own a great shop with cool stuff, or provide wicked good services, you might choose to explore that further or even ask to learn more or visit. And in that context letting them know where your shop is and what time you are open is completely appropriate.

But, it’s an entry point. A conversation starter. Not the pitch.

The wonderful part about social media is the ability to show up in thousands of coffee shops and have conversations. Instead of waiting for them to show up in yours, you can enter the ones your prospects are already in.

Thats when this whole thing gets interesting.

You still might need to go to B&N, but I hope that helped a little.

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