I’ve done my research, I’ve read the books, I’ve engaged in the blogosphere, I’ve tweeted with the great and good but when it comes to social media my Mum is a guru.
My Mum is a normal Mum, she uses ridiculous phrases like “I Googled it on the internet”, she does not use Twitter, Facebook or MySpace. She has never uploaded a picture to Flickr or watched a YouTube video. She does not own an iPod, 3G Phone or a Wii. To my Mum, Spotify is a medicated skin cream, Internet Explorer is the internet and 600x800 makes things “easier to see”– but I assure you she is a ‘Social Media Marketing Guru’.
How can I back up this claim? Well, first off what is social media marketing? In essence I believe social media marketing occurs when companies take a human approach to marketing by participating in conversations with their audiences. It’s about engaging people in an authentic way to provide helpful information, solve problems and build relationships to achieve business goals, or as my Mum calls it “chatting to people and being useful”.
Maybe it sounds a little simplistic, but she is definitely on to something here. As Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”. I often talk to people that want to get involved with communities such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, but are put off by ‘digital experts’ who bamboozle them with overly omplicated rules, best practice guidelines and communication strategies. While there are certain things you should be aware of when it comes to social media I think my Mum is right, it’s just about “chatting to people and being useful”.
“You’ve got to two ears, and one mouth”
Chatting is a two way conversation and the best conversationalists are also the best listeners. Or as my Mum says; “You’ve got two ears, and one mouth”. She’s right, if you want to get to know someone you can’t go far wrong if you listen twice as much as you talk. There is more to it than that, ask questions, be interested in the other person and know when the conversation is over – but listening is the most important. If you want to know how to have a conversation – just “Google it on the internet”.
“If you’ve got nothing useful to say, then say nothing”
My Mum said this a lot to me when I was growing up, mainly because I was always trying to get my sister in trouble. I’m not proud of it, but I was a snitch. My input to conversations was solely focused on getting my sister in trouble, I was not concerned with truth or understanding both sides of an argument, therefore I was of no use to my Mum. I provided no value to the conversation so at best she chose to ignore me and at worst she would send me to my room. You don’t want to be ignored (or indeed sent to your room!) so please, when using social media don’t just try to prove a point, or ram home a marketing message, if you’re going to get involved in a social media conversation, be useful, ask questions, reply, provide information and no matter what you bring to the conversation make sure it is useful.
Of course if you listen to the social media experts, they’ll tell you there’s so much more to it than this such as; be honest, be flexible, share stories, inspire people and in a way they’re right, I even have a pretty presentation that talks about the importance of these things. But I think Mum was right, the essence of social media is about chatting and being useful.