Three girls are posing for a photo to put the social in social media.

So you've heard that being vulnerable, social or something of the sort will help your social media. Here's what you need to know first.

Last week one of the big social media guys posted that people needed to concentrate on being ‘social’ on social media. He wondered why people aren’t & I responded that most people are only taught the ‘media’ part & often that’s all they want to learn. Why is that?

Why aren’t we social on social media? Now I’m not talking about sharing family pictures on your personal Facebook Profile, I’m talking about being sociable on your public business profiles. I admit that some platforms facilitate the ‘social’; for example, it’s easier to be sociable on SnapChat than it is on your Facebook Page. Chatting is easier on live streaming than it is in text. Being “real” is harder on Instagram’s heavily manicured feed. But what turns us away from being social & why is being social so important?

Let’s start with the reasons why people aren’t social…

It’s not how social media is taught

For a very long time, social media has been about the tool or the platform. It also doesn’t help that new platforms & tools are being released almost daily. This makes it easier for the social media trainer/expert/guru to teach the new toy. And that’s just it, a lot of us are taken by the new toy or shiny object. Now here I’m not saying that it’s not necessary to learn the new toys, you just have to be aware of how much of your energy that is being redirected is FOMO.

So other than the fact that new toys are easy subject matter, often the social media expert is paid as an influencer to promote the platform. While they should practice full disclosure, it doesn’t always happen. The expert is often trying to carve out a niche for themselves and so they will talk about the technology.

The clincher is that the ‘social’ is difficult. It’s all about behaviour, yours and your fans’, and it’s not often easy to deconstruct. Sure we say that people will buy from those that they ‘like, know & trust’ and it’s great to tell us that we need to foster that in our communications. Sadly, most social media experts just don’t how to explain how to achieve these things like they can the latest app.

So it’s no wonder why it’s not taught! It’s hard, foreign, & uncommon.

It’s not hustle

You’re right! Social is not hustle, but don’t despair it can still sell. It’s just not a continuous pitch fest. Social is about relationship building, it’s long term, it’s end game, it’s a lot of what hustle isn’t. Will it get you sales? Yes, it will and it will result in the strong customer relationships built on repeat custom and generate word of mouth. Is it likely to result in short-term sales, possibly not, but hustle isn’t guaranteed to either!

It’s not traditional marketing

Mmmmm, yes & no. Relationship management has been in marketing for a VERY long time. It’s not new, but I think it has become lost. I think we lost the ‘social’ to the shiny platform. Consider your local coffee shop who knows your name & your order, or better still the one who has your coffee ready when you walk in the door! That service & customer understanding is all but lost these days. Take that online & we forget to ask our fans how they are, how their day is, or inject humour into their lives. It’s been consumed by the endless pitch & plug. So is the coffee shop owner crazy for spending the extra time chatting & getting to know their customers? Isn’t it unprofessional? No, in fact it makes great business sense.

So now I’m digging deeper into the behavioural business behind the social in social media.

Being social is being vulnerable

Oh yes it is! The thing is, that’s the exact appeal to your fans. They get to see a part of you normally unseen. They get let in a little further into your world. The thing with running a small business is that you are so intrinsically tied to your business, so much of it is who you are that showing a more personable side is actually quite natural in your business. It’s the ‘why I do what I do’. I don’t really think, when you look at it that way, that you need to consider it as being vulnerable. Isn’t it just being open, honest & authentic? (I know the last one is a buzzword of late) Is it not another way connect & express your ‘why’? Sure, it can mean being vulnerable but that’s how long lasting relationships are made … “You look like my kind of human, why don’t we hang out, let’s talk about our common interests so we can be friends”. Yes it means being vulnerable, but some great things come from that place.

But I’m afraid I will…

Firstly, how likely is it that your fear will actually eventuate? How likely is it that if you engage socially that people will dislike it? How likely is it that you will be trolled? It’s not likely, people are generally kind when they see personability. Then, so what if your fears eventuate, doesn’t the impact you make outweigh them? Doesn’t touching, inspiring, & motivating one person override the bad?

Humans are social beings, we have a base need to interact with others. We crave connection. We want to understand ‘why’. We’re nosey. We like behind the scenes exclusives. People use social media to escape. We use it to be entertained & inspired, not just educated and sold to. So when social media becomes all about the media and little about the social businesses lose the benefit of connection, relationship building, & loyalty.

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