So, is anyone else tired of hearing all this junk about the “ROI of social media” and the “value of friendships”?
I know I am. I think I may *SCREAM* if I hear “ROI” and “social media” in the same sentence again. #justsayin
It seems that too many folks are jumping on the social media bandwagon with only one thing on their mind: money. Now, we all need to make a living and I know I certainly have mouths to feed (my own in particular – hey, I’m a growing boy) but are we focusing on money first when the relationships should be at the forefront of our thoughts?
These thoughts have been inspired by recent conversations with Jen Olney, Dave R. Gallant, Robert Dempsey, Karla Campos, Eugene Farber, and many other wonderful people. While we don’t agree on every last detail, we all agree that there are too many issues with how folks approach social media.
I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet as we touch upon the following concepts:
- Redefining social media currency, relationships, conversions, and what engagement really means.
- Moving away from the robotic ways that have taken the warmth out of online interaction.
- Focusing on helping others so that the stuff we want falls into place naturally.
- Engaging in reciprocation that is more meaningful, authentic/sincere, and worthwhile for all.
The main thing I want to tackle here is the concept of reciprocation. We all know that bloggers love to trade comments, shares, likes, and all that good stuff. I am all for reciprocation but I wonder sometimes…
How authentic is the engagement and influence.. or is this mutual-sharing-festing mostly a mere courtesy?
I don’t get many comments on this blog nor do I on some of my others. I’m fine with that. I figure the folks that take the time out to leave a comment are my real fans, right?
Well, Dave Gallant made me challenge that thought some more. I know from my site stats and reports (hey, the SEO in me eats this stuff up). There are people that lurk about but then there are those that will share my content or discuss the topics offline or other places online. They may not leave comments but they are engaging in their own ways.
So, now I’m going to breakdown some of the thoughts I’ve been wrestling for well over a week (and why this post is a bit late.. and I will owe you another this week)…
If you do enough consuming of personal development and business/marketing content, you may have heard about “engagement”. Thing is, few people are really clear about what that means, myself included.
Most will stop at connecting when they are supposedly engaging people. I think true, deep engagement, is so much more than being connected. Really, a greater degree of commitment needs to be evident as anyone can blindly “follow” or “friend” people back. If you love it, you gotta put a ring on it!
This visual aide actually works. I mean, how often will you REALLY “put a ring on it” in life? Rings cost money. Relationships take time to build up to that level of commitment, to truly be “engaged”. Of course, the type of social engagementwe’re speaking of here requires a different type of commitment (and perhaps not as much of an investment).
I think this chart here helps us start to understand engagement much better…
…Okay, so I lied. This only complicates matters more. I won’t get into all the aspects of this diagram I disagree with but it does show just how many forms of engagement there are.. and yet there is so much more to social engagement at it’s peak. Certainly, highly and deeply-engaged people do more than just add you as a friend or “fan” you.
Perhaps we focus too much on metrics and forget about people. Who wants to hook up with a robot, let alone be engaged to one??
Again, I will beat this dead horse: move away from the numbers! Focus on people. Salespeople are not memorable, caring servants, inspiring thought leaders, and heroes are! Would you like to be remarkable, memorable, or maybe even create a legacy?
I know I would.
I want to be engrained in the hearts and souls of those I make the effort to truly touch. That means persistent, sincere activity beyond the initial “payback”.
CASH OUT: When people go above and beyond to truly reach out to you, those are the folks you want to focus more on. It can be a simple thing like connecting via a platform you did not explicitly share or leaving you a random message “just to say hello”. This is the real “money left on the table” here. Some folks are practically throwing social currency at us and we’re ignoring them.
KEEP THE CHANGE: Do not put much value in the transactional stuff that can be gamed or does not translate into meaningful engagement. Clicking some buttons and leaving comments is nice and certainly not to be dismissed but feel free to let others worry about these little things. Do not let the numbers turn you into a robot.
Offline, social currency comes in many flavors but, essentially, it’s the ‘ol “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. There’s nothing wrong with that but that behavior does not make people feel fully-vested in joint ventures, teamwork, collaboration, or whatever you want to call it. Besides, do we want to measure the value in a relationship by transactions? There is value in the currency of intangibles and good wishes, no?
The weird focus on trading favors and social currency does not stop offline. Online, social currency is very similar to the silly stuff we see “IRL” so I ask myself…
Is this person reciprocating because they truly believe in my vision, cause, or mission.. Or is this merely a courtesy or patronizing act?
I mention that a lot because it’s true. It’s why I’m sharing this in-depth article with you and considering serialization via other mediums, blogs included, of course. All too often, we’re throwing favors out in the hopes of getting reciprocation. A sense of entitlement can lead to frustration simply because we all look at engagement differently (read the previous section).
This postcard borrowed from Dan Lockton’s “Design With Intent” Wiki just confirms what I have feared: folks are sharing and caring almost out of obligation. I don’t want that. Of course, there is almost always a selfishness attached to even the most selfless acts and that’s fine. I am more calling out folks that do stuff because they feel it is good PR or what-have-you.
CASH OUT: Rather than helping and promoting others in hopes of getting the same in return, just show folks that you genuinely care and find them interesting.. Or don’t bother sending out false signals. Yes, someone will notice but be honest with yourself by focusing on those that truly matter to you and stopping the favors you know you will not follow through with. On the flip side, when you have folks that do the same for you, be sure to give whole-hearted thanks and, whenever possible, offer your help. Simply let others know you are there for them and ask, “What can I do for you?”
KEEP THE CHANGE: Link exchanges, comment runs, and other reciprocation parties are great but let’s move away from mere reciprocation towards something sincere. Perhaps we have an issue with semantics here. Instead of looking at reciprocation, perhaps we should look at love, warmth, and collaboration. I’m a big fan of warm connections, which builds upon the concepts of lead nurturing, conversions, and relationship building - it’s all connected, folks! As @MattGron and @RobSearch would say, it’s the difference between having a cold lead, a luke-warm return visitor, and a SUPER HARDCORE! FAN.
Social Influence Be Damned
Over at “The Practical Life” I discussed the numbers game and warm connections. My call to action there was simple: we choose to focus more on numbers or people.. but the two do not play nice together if you get too obsessed on one side. I rather focus more on people but, at some point, money has to be made, right? I’ve been fortunate that the relationships I have forged have lead to natural sales opportunities but sometimes you just have to ask for the sale.
In any case, I say, “Social influence be damned!” Scores and metrics like those we find in Google Analytics, Klout, and PeerIndex are useful but some folks go a bit overboard with this stuff. They buy followers, spam, and do other shady things just to increase their numbers and seem more important than they really are, all the while forgetting why they are really in business. Tsk tsk…
My Klout score has been on the rise and not because I am deliberately trying to game the system; instead, I am doing more of what I have done all my career to build relationships:
- Show people that I care.
- Share useful and fun content.
- Select the most engaging, caring people to follow up (and have fun) with.
*clicks the candy-red button*
There, that was easy.
I wonder why some folks over-complicate social media. Are they that desperate for money? I’m guessing they are not projecting an image consistent with what they really are about.
CASH OUT: When someone shows interest and/or appreciation, carve out some time for them. It is always worth it. At the very least, you may make a pal. Good pals can turn into close friends, referral sources, brand advocates, avid fans, and life-long customers. So, yes, there is value in building relationships.
KEEP THE CHANGE: Don’t get caught up in this business of social influence scores and social media ROI - leave those scraps for the desperate and inauthentic folks! To be fair, I place some value in those things but I am not heart-broken if the numbers do not align with the results that I am looking for (and quite pleased with, in spite of and not DUE to, silly numbers).
So, what do you think about all this social (media) craziness?
Call To Action: If you heed these thoughts here, I know you will have a more fulfilled life in all facets. It takes a lot of work but you’ll find yourself doing less of the thankless work. Let’s rehumanize online experiences and business as a whole. With that in mind, please take a moment out today to let people know you care. Use and track the hashtag #youmattertome on Twitter. Let’s re-humanize the online experience by bringing the “social” back to the social web, yes?
COMING SOON – message me, @Yogizilla, on Twitter if you have something related to share!