The prevailing logic of many influencers, experts and journalists is that the best use of social media is as an anti-social, automated feed of messages germane to nothing, in response to nothing, and to no one. Inc.com recently explained this line of reasoning with an article, Why You Should Post More and Interact Less on Social Media.
The author acknowledges that engagement is vital to keeping existing customers and building a community, but goes on to say that the world seems to be moving in the direction of social media as a distribution channel first. I certainly have no argument there. It is going that way. But following the masses is not always the right direction to head in. If everyone is abandoning what is vital and works, stay with what works. Social media is a fantastic way to listen, discuss, and become a trusted member of communities.
— Gregg Weiss (@greggweiss) February 17, 2016
— Kathy Kopacz MS (@kkopacz1) February 16, 2016
Discussion doesn’t just mean 10 word responses. It’s the fuel that drives the subjects for videos, blog posts, photography and infographics. And even better, it’s for specific people that you know really want it, and will share it. Content made to respond to questions from your community could be lengthy and detailed, and highly polished, but no matter what, if it’s in response to needs it will be relevant.
Listening will also help you create relevant content because you’ll figure out what interests your community. #marketingchat
— Mike Delgado (@mikedelgado) August 28, 2014
Listening and replying, helping and sharing in discussions on social media is not just so you have material to create content. It’s also beneficial for developing friendships and building trust. People buy from people they have a rapport with, who they respect and trust. This is built by helping, and giving away your knowledge. It’s what shows you’re an expert and makes people trust in you. Listening in a way that people know you’re listening, by providing feedback, makes people listen to you more.
— Matthew Dooley (@dooleymr) February 13, 2016
A2: In social, I see many weak relationships started with too much focus on automation #viralchat
— Chris Barrows (@CBarrows) February 12, 2016
Social media is meant to be social. It’s a way to hear what your potential customers want, to win their trust, and sell to them. No one makes friends by not listening and spewing out information at random that doesn’t address anyone’s questions. Listen, engage in discussions, create great content, and deliver it to those who want it. Post more and interact more. People will appreciate your effort in engaging with them personally, not pushing automated content at them. Relationships and community matter, and social media is an ideal method for developing those friendships.