The term social media is largely misused and misunderstood.

You can’t have one social media strategy, or just decide to “do social media”. You have to realize what the term represents, that’s the first challenge I see when I speak with most people considering social for their businesses.

The Basis of Media

When you are speaking about using social media as an outreach tool in the general public the first thing you have to realize is that none of those people are reading “these” articles – the dialogue we all have about it on-line ,  its of no interest to them.

The people you are trying to reach are living their lives. Reaching them becomes marketing – just as you try and do in magazines or radio ads or newspapers. That’s the media part of the term.

In turn, from a business owner’s stand point, making decisions about social media use has to come from understanding deeper objectives and being in touch with your organization as a whole. Social media is not a new marketing strategy or sales vessel.  It’s not a substitute for customer service. It’s not about broadcasting a new logo or flooding a channel with messages, it’s about a mindset.

What is the “Social” Really About?

Social is about this ability for consumers, employees, and all people to be connected.  People using the on-line space to further their knowledge, interact with others, do research, play games, express themselves, grow, laugh, be entertained and of course throughout all this to share… The social part is about where you are reaching them and it’s the entire basis of all these pillars of social marketing success.

I think sometimes businesses, people looking into social  and marketers forget the why of why you have to be genuine, or why the goal is content, or consistency.

It’s the why that is important: You are reaching people via networks that they are specifically using for their own interests – you’re reaching them while they are looking at pictures of their kids or grand kids, while they are checking out who is dating who on Facebook, or via photo sharing sites where people like to look at images that inspire them – or maybe just keep them tuned in to

 Social Media Heart by By kdonovan_gaddy via Flickr Creative Commonswhat’s happening at the coolest club or party. You may even catch them as they bitch about their horrible day exclaiming things like “FTW” or “OMG”… On the best day of their lives, the worse day of their lives, and every day in between. That’s where you are.

All of this is what contributes to these theories and schools of thought on how to do social “effectively”.

Be The Brand Who They Don’t Even Realize Is a Brand.

Doing social effectively is being able to infiltrate these circles. Make your way into their private lives and streams of information in a way that you provide value, support, entertainment or information. To do so in such a way that they feel they are sharing something from a friend.  Seeing something from a like minded soul. That you are giving them something worthy of their day, worthy of being among those in their private world, so much so, that when you’re successful they take pride in, or even get kudos for sharing amongst their peers.

The Brand With A Soul

That’s where the brand “being human” comes in, that’s where the necessity to not broadcast ads that are all “selly” comes in.  You won’t make it into anyone’s circle like that: not in real life and not on-line.

The only exception is to those who choose the route of appealing to people’s desire to win things, to get things for free, to get things for less. A good contest strategy can be very successful, but unless you craft it very carefully, you likely won’t win any hearts or deep brand loyalty, you’ll just be “that ad” – that hope to win something.

Then you won’t really be in their circles will you? You’ll just be a tool, not a soul.

The Craft

Using Social Media effectively is to have the gift of just being “you”, and being likeable – being funny, compassionate, entertaining – whatever your target client needs. If your brand can wrap it’s mind around that, you will understand that social isn’t a fad – it’s the effect of the people demanding genuine character from their interactions. That didn’t come from the on-line space, or from computers – that came from humanity.

Are you ready to be giving?

Call it social media marketing or call it being real and respecting people’s time and being a giving brand – whatever it is, I am pretty sure it’s here to stay. The social consumer will demand it and brands who really see this will adapt into understanding how to be human – not just a product. They will in turn, be welcomed warmly among the people. When they say it’s about being human, it really is – the more companies and  businesses start to see that instead of thinking that “social media” is some computer based, business saving cure or fad, the more successful brands will be, all the while contributing to the overall benefit of their consumers in the on-line space. It’s an opportunity to be more than just a product and really be a part of the community.

What do you think?