Social Media: A Simple Analogy

This is an attempt for me to better understand the concept of social media and try to explain it in simple terms.

A lot of businesses are misinterpreting the concept of social media. Rather than seeing it as a platform to interact/ socialise, they see it more as a medium to propagate self-serving news. In other words, one way communication (I’m talking, you’re listening).

Let’s use a very familiar analogy: making friends. When a business gathers twitter followers and facebook fans, and bombards them with nothing but sales ads, it is like a guy who goes around making tonnes of friends only to use them to buy stuff off him. He doesn’t call back or really make an effort to hang out; his friends are there for him to make money off. Basically, he is a crap friend, and before long, he will either lose his friends or have no close friends.

The dynamics and sensitivity of social media should be as prevalent as the simple age-old art of making acquaintances hence why it is important that when shaping a social media campaign to promote a business or a cause, you are not treating your followers as customers but as friends.

Let’s look at another entity which acknowledges every message it receives from its followers. This is the equivalent of making sure you say hi to all your friends you meet at a party. You start an interesting interesting topic and all your friends are engaged, sharing their points of view with each other. This is the equivalent to starting an interesting forum topic and keeping it active with insightful replies.

One of your friends is upset about something, but you listen to him and work out a resolution with him that makes him happy. Have you worked it out? This is a facebook follower who decides to leave negative feedback on your facebook page.  However, you’ve got in touch with the user and worked out a solution that would mutually benefit both of you, causing him to leave some positive feedback on how well the matter was resolved.

The group of friends whom you shared an interesting chat with and the guy whom you’ve just resolved something for think you are a top bloke and decide to bring their friends/ loved ones (with your permission) over to your next social function to meet you and have more good times. You’ve built some credibility and a rapport. Does this all sound familiar? You can probably piece the rest yourself.

Socialising in the real world shouldn’t be any different to interacting with your online followers. Talking to and listening to your friends, share stories, work out your problems together and introducing each other to new friends.  When placed in a digital context, it’s easy to forget some basic etiquette. But the same rules still apply.

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