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Social Media Advice: You Are What You Share

I get asked all the time why a business owner should be blogging or engaged in social media.

The answer I give almost always revolves around creating relationships. If you’ve been reading a while, you know one of my favorite statements is people don’t do business with businesses, they do business with people. So relationships become key to business success.

Before the internet, before social media, much of the business world seemed to focus on producing and selling. You’d produce a product or create a service and do everything you could to get people to buy. In other words, marketing was about peddling what you had.

Today, however, and especially with the explosion of social media, the business world is changing. No longer is business just about producing something and selling it. Now, business is more about communication, relationship, community and innovation. And all this is being driven by the conversations happening all over the blogosphere.

As business owners, this means we need to rethink how we go about doing business. We need to consider and engage in the conversation with people who need what we offer. It means we need to be more concerned with customer service – even before the person becomes a customer. It means that what you share in your business is just as important as what you do.

I found this great little video on YouTube that illustrates just that. It was put together by Charles Leadbeater who’s a leading authority on innovation and creativity. Charles’s website says he’s currently involved in research which “focuses on how mass, user driven innovation is reshaping organisations.” If you’re in the UK, you may want to check out Charles book, We Think, The Power of Mass Creativity.

One of the quotes from the video that I found so interesting was this:

Communities don’t just want to make money, they want to socialize and gain recognition for the work they do.

Would you agree?

Take a look at the video. It’s about four minutes long. And at the end, I’d love to hear what you think.

So, are you what you produce or are you what you share? Or both? What are your thoughts?

(note: image from Marcio Ruiz on Flickr)

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Comments

  1. I think that this is someone who truly “gets” Web 2.0 (and not everyone who uses it “gets” it).

    Clearly it’s not about money, because the majority of the millions of bloggers, forum participants, Flickr users, or YouTube downloaders make nothing at all and yet they continue.

    Yet, there is money for those clever, or lucky, enough to find it.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Olivier - 7 laws of attraction says:

    If I’m not mistaken, business has always revolved around socializing. The importance of a good social network cannot be over emphasized. You need to know the people that can ‘do’ things for you. Off course because you did something for them.
    But that is the way it always works, online and offline.

  3. Dawud, I belong to the smoke stack generation which spilled onto the computer generation. I used to ask my grandfather how it felt when the new 20th century started and I have been asked that now by a neighbor’s son about when the 21st Century came around.

    In my more active days, we had brain storming sessions to get precisely what the video suggests. Due to constraints of space and physical locations, the groups had to be small. Today, the same job can be done with literally thousands of people and this actually has become a Tower of Babel.

    What is the latest trouble that we are facing? Suddenly, there is talk of shortage of food. Why? How can the 21st century communication based civilization address this vital issue? What is undeniable is that this century will address such issues faster than the previous ones and perhaps even find solutions faster.

    What do ideas generate now? What exactly is the knowledge based economies doing? They are simply making production of the same old goods and services more efficient. They cannot do away with them. Yes, more people are building communities on the net. Yet no one wants to stop a car and ask for directions from a passerby. He uses a GPS devise! You and I are communicating with each other fairly regularly. I have not yet met you nor seen your face other than on a photograph.

    What sort of communities are we building? Anti-septic, sterile, non physical? We are reaching that stage through things like the Second Life!

    I am not using optimism of the past to criticize the present. I am simply pointing out that idealism sans the personal human touch will make us less humane.

  4. David Murray says:

    “Communities don’t just want to make money, they want to socialize and gain recognition for the work they do.”

    I would certainly agree that members of communities are not necessarily interested in making money. However, the community owners may not have the same utopian views. I think the nasty issue of money is always on the minds of a community. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Is it such a crime to want to make a profit off a product you are truly passionate about and believe can benefit others?

    What if a community is that product?

    There are new rules to play by now that is for sure but I think the old school of commerce still takes into effect and motivates all decision making. I keep hearing how consumers are now savvy and demand more of the products they purchase. This to me is not news. Consumers, in my opinion, have always wanted the best they can afford and demand quality from vendors providing goods and services.

    The big difference now is that they can now play the role of influencer and consumer. Conversations are the new “marketing” and therefore influence the way goods and services are offered, promoted and purchased. So within a community they may not be interested in making money but are very interested in making sure their voice is heard. The “ring masters” of the community now need to pay special attention to these influencers if they are going to gain respect and confidence of the community.

    Genuine listening = genuine products.

  5. Shari Voigt says:

    What a great little video!

    Our media of choice (the web) simply makes ideas easier to share. But some things never change. We’ve always grown and learned through being exposed to new ideas. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    The business owner who neglects to build relationships either online or off, misses opportunities to gain friendships, business ventures and sales, but also misses opportunities to share of himself and to learn from others.

    So yes, I agree. “What you share in your business is just as important as what you do.”

  6. Laura,
    I’ve definitely seen that it’s more than luck or cleverness that makes social marketing successful. What I’ve seen is it’s a difference in approach than more traditional marketing and so it seems mystical to many people. In the end, it’s all about building relationships, don’t you think?

    Home Recording,
    You know, I actually agree with you. I think technology has made made it convenient for people to not interact in person as much.

    Yet, on the flip side, I’ve personally met, face-to-face, a number of very interesting people who I first got to know through social media. We’ve stepped through the screen to meet each other in person and it’s been great. It’s allowed me to find commonality with people I’d likely not have met otherwise.

    Our modern society is a funny place. Never before in history have been so connected so easily to so many people and yet so alone at the same time. Technology can’t solve our real problems – those that sit inside us. And until we all take a look at how we use technology to reach out to the world as well as hide in it we won’t really know the truth of what we’re creating.

    Thoughts?

    Olivier,
    True. And the web has expanded the reach from your local community to the whole globe. And Google changed everything by making it possible to find highly specific niches to solve the problems you face in life, business, etc.

    So it’s not so much that online/offline are so different. It’s just that online offers far more potential for networking, relationship building and business.

  7. What a great video segment Dawud! Every business, regardless of what it is, needs to be online and building personal relationships.

    The old way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore. People don’t generally put trust in others the way it used to be years ago, and probably for many reasons.

    Building personal relationships with potential and current customers is paramount to a successful business, because without personalized attention and “getting to know each other”, people will often shy away and go somewhere they FEEL more welcome.

    I’ve tried to help my boss understand the importance of having a website and blog for his dental practice, but he’s not the least bit interested. I’ve even shown examples of other dental practice blogs/websites and still no interest.

    Any business that is not online and being social is really missing out on an excellent opportunity for growth.

  8. True. Reminds us entrepreneurs that the people are the most important part of business here.

  9. David,
    I love your perspective. But what happens if the conversation isn’t allowed to be open and free? Does this diminish the community and, hence, the product?

    Shari,
    I couldn’t agree more. Business owners would take good advice in remembering that they’re in business because of people who want to buy their products/services. So creating relationships only strengthens their position.

    Lin,
    Oh gosh yeah. I know that my family and I have seen three different dentists since living here (6 years). The two we left because we didn’t feel they really cared about us or our family. So what did we do? We used Google to find a dentist using social media locally. Then we looked for what other people were saying about her. Now, we’ve found someone who cares about our family.

    So keep talking to your boss. What’s the biggest hang up?

    IM,
    Not only the most important – but the only reason we’re in business.

  10. Dawud,

    During my last vacation I took the time to read a book called “Wikinomics”

    It’s a more academic treatment of the subject, but really enlightening.

    It reinforces with concrete examples that: ‘Communities don’t just want to make money, they want to socialize and gain recognition for the work they do.?

  11. The Article Nut says:

    Great article! Would you mind if I had you post it on my wesbite? I would love my readers on my site to read it as well. I am so glad I found your blog however and will be visiting it more often!

  12. We share everything, even with our competitors because we have an strong abundance mentality and believe that there is enough for everyone. So let’s all help each other achieve our dreams!

  13. Dawud, David Murray has got it pat. My thoughts go somewhat in a tangent. This technological developments have actually made it simple to individualize ATTENTION. Take ready made garments – it is now possible to store one’s measurements and mass produce garments of slightly differing sizes of the same style, cut etc and the finished product, with the individual customer’s name address etc gets shipped to the outlet chosen by him. There are any number of things like this happening. It is also doing something that Sears did now more efficiently through online shopping. Such developments are possible due to a series of innovations which are ongoing. Sears today will have to compete with logistics of a different magnitude altogether. Amazon.com for instance is truly a great innovation and so is ebay etc.

    The question that needs serious consideration, raised by Murray is “What if the product is the community?” What a fantastic concept, yet that is what we are seeing daily and I cannot help feel that the individual today wants to buy a community!

    We are at many crossroads today. Materially, spiritually, and socially. It is a time for massive change, the rate of which has never been experienced by mankind ever before. Different pulls and pressures drag the individual into multifaceted activities and commitments and leaves him confused at the end.

    I do not have clear answers but the fun is in observing and commenting on developments as they occur! Frankly, I find it all very amusing if somewhat puzzling!

  14. Dave,
    So true. I’ll have to take a look at Wikinomics. Thanks.

    Article Nut,
    Go ahead. Just be sure to credit and link back.

    Jennifer,
    I can attest to that. Every time I’ve asked you or Dan something you’ve given me helpful answers – which I so much appreciate.

    What’s one off-the-wall way that you’ve shared with your community?

    Home Recording,
    As always, great points.

    I’m reminded that we do speak with where we put our money. And while I don’t think we can change the mass consciousness directly, lots of us could begin spending into communities and products we believe in and who care about us. The fun thing is that if enough of us do that, the PR and marketing people will figure out that there’s business to be gotten in this new approach and they’ll change.

    Look how organic food has changed the market place – and all for something that’s not new and improved, but old and tried.

    The same could be said about returning to the small-town feel of doing business. Remember the days when your neighborhood grocer, pharmacist or hardware store owner knew you personally – knew your family? We were just all part of a community. And the web is now giving us a chance to return to that type of life, albeit differently, again.

  15. D,
    As always- a great resource! I like that you practice what you preach: sharing ideas, establishing your name/brand, fostering trust and openness… it’s good 🙂

  16. David Murray says:

    Dawud,

    “David,
    I love your perspective. But what happens if the conversation isn’t allowed to be open and free? Does this diminish the community and, hence, the product?”

    I believe that if a conversation is dictated by limitations, than that is not a true conversation.

    To walk up to a someone and start a conversation but immediately state what we can or can not talk about defeats the purpose of talking.

    Take this online and yes if the conversation is not open and free it does diminish the community and the product.

    In the industry that I am in I see a lot of attempts to have conversation. But I am starting to notice they don’t all come across as genuine. You get the sense that “big brother” is watching and listening and will immediately reprimand anyone who is saying something they shouldn’t.

  17. David and Dawud, there is a message there somewhere in those two lovely names!

    Both are making great valid points. Both come as very optimistic if somewhat wary.

    I tend to be more cynical. The big brother metaphor certainly is a real possibility, but more than that, is the possibility that the conversationalist is trying to influence people and make friends using the formula that was made popular by Dale Carnegie. Superficial, insincere and for sensitive people, clearly sending wrong signals.

    The question is how to use technology to bring about genuine conversation, a real exchange of information giving dignity to both the participants. The dignity of accepting that the other fellow is not a moron.

  18. Creating a good communication between you and your customer is important in order to make a business. Thanks for sharing, great article!

  19. The video is clever in how it communicates its message. Certainly makes you pay attention!

  20. Payday,
    Sure. I have to remind myself as well. Why do you think it’s so easy for people not to get this?

    Chadwyck,
    I just believe there’s no reason to hide what you know. Doesn’t sharing what you know establish expertise? And doesn’t it help to build relationships?

    David,
    Isn’t Big Brother an issue with the entire internet?

    Home Recording,
    I did a poor job today writing a post coming off your point of not thinking about people as being morons. Looks like I did a poor job. Or maybe the topic is too raw. Not sure. Thoughts?

    Phil,
    It is. Any suggestions about how to do it well?

    SeaBird,
    I agree. Did it make you consider doing anything differently?

  21. swap market says:

    I have always seen that it’s more than luck or cleverness that makes social marketing successful. What I have seen is it is a difference in vison than more traditional marketing and so it seems mystical to many people. In the end, it’s all about building relationships, don’t you think?

    The video is clever in how it communicates its message. Certainly makes you pay attention!

  22. Beltmann Blog says:

    “Any business that is not online and being social is really missing out on an excellent opportunity for growth.”

    This is very true, and a lot more businesses are realizing it. For example, the company I work for just redid their website to include a blog.

  23. You are right, I think that people are tired of being nothing but dollars in a bank account or numbers on a spreadsheet. Social networking has in a way, but on a much larger scale, brought us back in time a little bit with regard to business relationships. I think we are headed for more of a “mom and pop” way of doing things.

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