Web 2.0 and Social Media: The Old is New Again

by tomallinder on January 22, 2009

A question for those old enough… Remember when you bought things or contracted services from someone you actually knew in your community?

Social media is being viewed as new and in some cases the next big thing- hell, I have said that many times myself especially when selling my services to CEOs and management teams of companies.

grocerystoreMoving to social media is much like the experience I had moving from the big city to a small rural town in the mountains of North Carolina. In the big city, when I needed something, I went to a big store where I was just one of many customers with an account number. No one knew my name and I only knew the people who worked there because they had their name on their employee badge. I never developed any sort of relationship with them at all.

When I moved to a very small town in northwestern North Carolina, I knew things would be different. The stores and service businesses were much smaller. You could not pick up the phone and call them, order something and have it delivered to your house like in the big city. If I did not have a friendly relationship with someone who provided services, they were not likely to do anything for me.

To get things done here, you actually have to go to the place of business and talk to a real human being. I discovered quickly that by making small talk with the business owner and getting to know them, I would get better service; they would over deliver. I would then, in turn, over deliver on payment- it made everyone happy.

Social media works the same way. To be successful online today, you must develop relationships. There are many people engaged in social media improperly; they have missed the whole point. Too many people in social media today are introducing themselves to me by trying to immediately sell their products and services to me. They are using social media as a sales platform, a storefront and a spamming and broadcasting platform.

I am borrowing this example from the great Perry Belcher: Think of social media as a gathering place, a bar-b-que or a party. If you went to a get-together, would you introduce yourself by saying “Hi, I am Tom, here is what I sell”? You wouldn’t dream of doing that. So why do it in social media? Social media is where you exchange information and build relationships. By building relationships and participating in the conversation, you will generate leads for business and find the people you need to help you.

To be successful, you must add value to the community. Broadcasting messages or selling things is not adding value but it certainly decreases the value of those engaging in that activity. The law of compensation states that your compensation will be directly proportional to the amount of service you provide and the difficulty in replacing you.

No one going into social media becomes a star and gets wealthy overnight. Like the man sitting in front of the wood stove on a January morning and saying, “Give me heat and I will give you wood” We all know it doesn’t work like that; you must put the wood in the stove first before you get the heat.

Leave a Comment

Next post: