Make connections, not just ads.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
While social media continues to evolve such as in terms of the popularity of certain platforms, the ways in which social media algorithms prioritize content and the types of content users want to engage with, brands need to recognize that the business of social media is still built on community and human-to-human engagement.
In other words, even though social media looks quite different now than it did on early-internet communication mediums such as chatrooms and bulletin boards, the social aspect still remains. People use social media because they want to connect with other individuals, and they want to be entertained, inspired and form emotional bonds with others.
That means that being successful on social media requires humanizing your brand through people rather than acting like an advertiser. And this principle will likely only become more important as social media shifts from a one-to-many communication style to focus more on one-to-one interactions.
Focus on building relationships.
Recently, I attended the seventh annual Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego, which has grown to almost 5,000 attendees comprised of marketing professionals from around the world. There, I connected with some of the preeminent social media marketing experts to get their insights into how to be successful business-wise on social media.
One of those individuals is Roberto Blake, a creative entrepreneur who has built a large social media following and is the owner of digital agency Create Awesome Media. As he explains, attaining long-term business success on social media requires building relationships with people regardless of the platform you’re using.
“You also have to account for the fact that there might not be a long shelf-life to these platforms, and people are scared to invest and commit there, whereas I am not. Because what I’m going to get is the relationship value while I’m there, and I’m going to take those relationships with me wherever I go,” says Blake. “And that’s where I think the future is for marketers and people in the social media world, to move away from vanity metrics, to move away from the fear and anxiety of what platforms and algorithms are going to do in the future.”
Blake says brands need to understand how to translate the relationships they’ve built and the lessons they learned using the platform into the larger ecosystem outside of specific platforms.
Similarly, marketing experts such as Jay Baer and Andrea Vahl note that the business model of social media networks like Facebook is changing from a focus on mass communication to fostering one-to-one or small-group communication.
“People are realizing you don’t have to be super big, you can just have influence on a smaller group and have a wonderful business,” says Vahl.
Leverage the power of connections.
By connecting with a smaller group but creating deeper relationships, brands can tap more into word-of-mouth marketing, which goes further in an era where people trust businesses less and place more emphasis on what individuals say.
“The trick to everything in social now is to get your customers to do your marketing for you, to get them to create content, to get them to tell your story,” says Baer.
In addition, the people behind brands should focus on consuming content from others to keep up with what’s relevant and to understand how to create content that other people want to share. Baer says he spends at least two hours per day on this endeavor.
Attending conferences like Social Media Marketing World can be part of that content consumption, but in doing so, marketers should keep a similar focus on creating connections rather than passively absorbing information.
“Definitely get out and meet as many people [as you can] because amazing connections and synergies and even businesses are built from this conference,” says Vahl.