Putting the Social back in Social Media

Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon by Matt Hamm

Last year was a year of focusing on the new social media channels, but it seems we have been more focused on the “media” than we have on the “social.”  The buzz for the past year has been on which are the right channels to play in, how to develop your “presence” in social media, and what are the secret tips for getting more fans, friends and followers. 

Software makers have capitalized on the buzz, creating programs to help people automatically follow people back, randomly follow people in the hopes of getting followers back, or automatically sending messages to followers as a way of driving engagement.  This is the typical response to anything in our capitalist society:  How can we profitize it?  How can we use it to make more money?  How can we game the system better than the other guys?

But what if we thought about social media, not as a business/marketing tool to be exploited, but as a next step in the evolution of the human species?  What if we focused not on the technology, but on the human need to connect, to share and learn from one another, to collaborate with one another?  How would we use the tools we have with that mindset?

I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk precisely because he has this mentality.  “@garyvee” (in case you have been living under a rock and don’t know who he is,) became an internet sensation with his video blog on wines and has since become a highly sought after media and marketing consultant.  In his best selling book, “Crush It,” he outlines two very simple principles for success:  1. work hard (“hustle” as he says,) and 2. care about people. 

If you ask Gary what is the best social media platform to be in, he will tell you it doesn’t matter.  It’s about connecting with people wherever they are . . . and people are on the internet.  Whether you try to get on every social media site you can, or pick one that you can manage, it’s about reaching out and engaging with people (and authentically caring about them.)  I’ve already pre-ordered his next book, “The Thank You Economy,” which talks about a new marketplace “based on open, honest and constant communication between customers and business.”

Social Nation,” is another recently published book that addresses the importance of our increasingly social culture, especially for business.  According to author Barry Libert, “business is personal” and he teaches open authentic relationships as the key to being a successful “social leader.”  He tells businesses to relinquish control, in favor of more collaborative exchanges with employees and customers. 

Libert, who is the CEO of Mzinga, a company that develops social media software platforms for businesses, doesn’t use his software to try and manipulate or game the social media space for business advantage.  Instead, he teaches people to be truly social, even in the business space.  This means thinking about the needs of customers and employees and helping them to achieve their goals.  It means creating workplaces where people can be who they are and feel a part of a sense of community, like Analytical Graphics, allowing employees to do their laundry while at work, or Zappos, quizzing employees on how well they know their colleagues each time they turn on their computers.

If 2010 was the year of figuring out how to use social media to drive revenues and attract customers, I hope 2011 will be the year of figuring out how to really bring people together and how to use business to authentically contribute to society.  If corporate America is not ready for that yet, at least I think we are taking steps in the right direction.   

References and recommended reading:

Libert, B. (2010).  Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business.  Wiley.

Vaynerchuk, G. (2009).  Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion.  Harper Studio.

Vaynerchuk, G. (in press).  The Thank You Economy.

Wright, R. (2001). Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny.  Vintage.

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11 Responses to Putting the Social back in Social Media

  1. Marie-Josee Shaar January 18, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Good post, Jeremy!

    Looking back at less recent bestsellers, from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Good to Great”, caring is a time-tested theme in business, but alas, so easily forgotten.

    We’re running so hard after the next thing that we forget the most basic lessons. As our colleague Margaret Greenberg likes to say, “it’s the soft skills that are the hard stuff”.


  2. Adrienne Keane January 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Jeremy…Music to my ears! Thank you for reminding us what is most important in all this – how we connect and share our gifts with others so we all can thrive.

  3. barry libert January 19, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Jeremy – great post.

    I have always believed that the longest distance a person (especially leaders) is the 18 inches between their head and their heart. I am hopefully that we can use social media to connect the hearts of minds of all of us so we can work together to achieve our true potential.

    I hope you will consider cross posting this review on amazon.com under Social Nation – it is very thoughtful.



  4. Jeremy McCarthy January 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Hi Barry, thanks for popping in to leave a comment. I will try to post this on amazon and will “see” you on twitter!

  5. Darlene Fiske January 20, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    What a great piece Jeremy! Now I’ve got four more books to read! Thank you for always planting that seed in our head…..

  6. Eric Mieles January 21, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    I agree 100%. There are a couple of social leaders that I follow and they seem to thrive by GIVING instead of always wanting something of having an agenda. Basic human interaction open, authentic and REAL is where I see people winning in the social space.

    David Siteman Garland has a show called The Rise to the Top and he talks about being a trusted resource rather than a product pusher. He says he uses his content as a handshake. I love that mentality. Always trying to find ways to add value to someone else and not worrying about what you’ll receive in return. I have to believe humans at the basic level are really, really good in our souls and when someone’s gives and gives we naturally will want to reciprocate some way or another,

    If anyone gets a chance read Seth Godin’s Linchpin. It really will open your mind and allow you to think on another level. Great post!!

  7. Jeremy McCarthy January 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Thanks Eric, BTW, I just went and checked out your blog agaiin (http://thisirealize.com/) and it is really beautiful (more like a hug than a handshake!) I wanted to subscribe but I couldn’t get the rss feed link to work for some reason (but I’m following you on twitter now.)

    You are not the first person to recommend Linchpin to me. It’s on my list!

    Thanks, J

  8. Eric Mieles January 23, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    Jeremy thank you very much for reading and saying those kind words, I really appreciate it. I haven’t quite updated it with all the social tools yet but I am soon. Thanks for following on Twitter and I look forward to connecting with you more and sharing great gifts of knowledge.

    Yes. Get Linchpin it really is in my opinion Seth’s best work. Have a great day.

  9. Stacy (@TheZenGirl) January 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Great post. Being in sales and marketing for years I know that it’s all about relationships both online and offline. It’s about connecting with those with like minds and finding ways to support one another. To be honest, I only discovered the power of Twitter a month ago, and can already see how it is an incredible networking tool if used mindfully. For each of us the execution may be different, but putting the “social back in social media” is a crucial component no matter what in in order for it to be successful both personally and professionally. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  10. Jeremy McCarthy (@jeremymcc) January 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Thanks Stacy! For a newbie on Twitter you are doing great at engaging in the social media space! For example, I love that you put your twitter handle in your name on your comment, that is a great idea that I never thought of to make it easier for people to find you. There are many times I see an interesting comment from someone and I think, “I wonder if they are on twitter.” But it is too much work to find their twitter name so I let it go. You are finding ways to make it easy for people to connect with you and making it easier for you to connect with others. We live in a whole new world, but it’s fun learning our way around in it!

  11. Jeremy McCarthy December 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    I just used random.org to randomly select one of the commenters on this post to win a copy of this book. Congratulations MarieJ! You won! I will reach out to you to get the best mailing address!

    While I’m here, Eric, I just finally read Linchpin based on your recommendation. I loved it! Of course now I want to read everything that Godin has written! Thanks!

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