Social Media has some funny quirks.
On one hand, it's about connecting, building rapport, establishing yourself as a recognized authority, learning, growing and sharing... and most of the content you find from those trying to do those exact things are free (like this Blog, my Podcast, etc...). Fundamentally, all of those actions are also the same key components that are required to get people to buy from you and to be loyal to you. On the other hand, if you're there to blatantly push your wares and get people to buy from you, it's frowned upon. It can be the death knell. There is this strange social contract that individuals won't shill their wares... and if you do, you get called out as if you were insulting not only the person you are connected to, but their entire family and culture as well.
Social Media is about money (for some)... so don't kid yourself.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: There Is Nothing Wrong With Making Money. The problem isn't about the ethics in trying to make money (for most)... the problem is usually in the approach and ask. Those looking to make a quick buck (or a big buck) usually step into some Social Media bear traps not because they're trying to make money, but because of their approach. While every single individual (and brand) needs to figure out the relationships and dynamics of the Social Media spheres to figure out what works best for them, I lean on one, specific, individual at all times for how to get better at building relationships, loyalty and asking people to become my customer: Jeffrey Gitomer (you can hear my conversation with Gitomer here: SPOS #201 - Marketing And Sales With Jeffrey Gitomer).
Not that guy again!
When it comes to sales and marketing nobody does it better than Gitomer. Every one of his books is a gem. They are simple to read, they are fun to read and they are filled with ideas that are both actionable and immediate to execute. He's written over ten best-selling business books (you can see them all here: Jeffrey Gitomer's books) and he's one of the few people (with the addition of Tom Peters and Seth Godin) that I would recommend reading each and every one of them. Nothing has taught me more about the art of marketing and selling through connecting and building real relationships (and, don't kid yourself, sales and marketing is about building relationships) than the work of Jeffrey Gitomer.
Not everything he says is perfect for every person (in fact, some of the stuff may very well make you cringe while other bits may make you laugh)... and that's where the magic happens. Gitomer doles out information like a machine gun and the way he does it makes you think about creative ways that you can adapt his concepts to work best for your style. The trick is...
Can you apply this stuff to Social Media?
Last year, Gitomer approached me about contributing to a book he was authoring about Social Media and business. The result was published this week. His latest book, Social BOOM!: How to Master Business Social Media to Brand Yourself, Sell Yourself, Sell Your Product, Dominate Your Industry Market, Save Your Butt, ... and Grind Your Competition into the Dirt (FT Press), is a staple on the Top 10 best-selling books list at Amazon. It's brash, it's direct and it has lots of gold in it. My chapter is titled, Is Social Media Right For Every Business?
What's the big message?
Social Media is one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to grow and connect that has come along in a long, long time. Now, that may turn off many people who use these channels for personal social benefit, but the truth is (and it's core to Social BOOM!) that when business can figure out how to do this right, what they soon realize is that, "Social Media is the new cold call" (as Gitomer often tweets). Like anything else, Social Media is agnostic (it is neither good nor bad) and how effective and powerful it can be will be predicated on how well you understand your audience, community and the people that you are trying to connect to. Tomorrow, I'll be presenting at the Media Bistro event, Socialize - Monetizing Social Media (March 31st - April 1st, 2011 in New York City) talking about Social Media and the new consumer.
Notice a trend here?