'Social media is a great way to get your message out'
'The key to being successful on Twitter is having a lot of followers'
'I just want to use my blog to promote my business'
I've read and heard the above and similar quotes from business owners in the past few months. And they really help drive home for me the great divide that exists between how companies approach social media, and how users/customers actually use these sites and tools.
And some recent studies back this up, such as this one from Forrester Research about B2B blogging. The study offers that many companies are struggling with their blogging efforts, and proposes this solution:
B2B marketers should embrace strategies prominently used by mainstream bloggers to attract readers, build conversations, and engage community members in sharing their experiences with their online peers, the report's author advises.
In order words, if a company wants to successfully utilize social media to grow their business, they need to use these tools and sites in the same way that the people that they are trying to reach.
Here is a quote from my friend CK's speech during Blogger Social:
The lesson that social media has taught me? Now that we're all connected and empowered to easily share our views and viewpoints, the world isn't getting flatter...it's getting smaller. And the lesson that this community has taught me? The world needs to start acting like it.
Because we act like it every single day.
Note the disconnect. When talking about social media, many companies focus on keywords such as 'followers', 'promote' and 'reach'. While the people that are immersed in these tools everyday, use terms like 'connected', 'empowered' and 'share'.
If you want to successfully use social media to grow your business, you MUST remember this: social media sites and tools are COMMUNICATION channels, not BROADCAST channels.
The quickest way to fail with social media, is to use these wonderful tools to push a message at your audience. If you want to concern yourself with targeting the right 'keywords' on your blog (another concern I've heard from blogging businesses), then focus on these; sharing, interacting, communicating, and empowering.
Focus on using these tools as your customers do, and for the same reasons. Otherwise, you're just broadcasting.