Social Media – Concentrate on How, not What

In social media, it is really not important what you do, but rather how you do it. Okay, I exaggerate a bit … what you do is important as you must determine where you reach your existing and potential audience best. But I find that failures in social media efforts are usually a function of how it is implemented as opposed to the social media channels selected.

More people are participating in social media channels and more companies are allocating time, resources, and budget to social media according to my unofficial survey. If you have read any of my articles in the past, you’ll know I have been extremely bullish on social media and thus I am thrilled to see data supporting strong adoption. What concerns me going forward is that many companies will continue to jump on the bandwagon without understanding HOW to use social media. DON’T SELL … ever hear me say this before. Engage in efforts and activities that focus on building relationships. It is that simple, really. With every plan and step of your social media implementation, ask yourself, is this helping to contribute to building a stronger relationship with my audience?

Here is an example … Twitter and Facebook are getting the most hype of the social media channels. Many company executives immediately say, “Oh, we need to be on Twitter and Facebook.” That is fine … I see nothing wrong with this, even if there are better, more direct channels to a company’s audience. So you set up a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page. You start posting stuff about the company or related field to what your company offers. But this is not building a relationship. Are you LISTENING? Listening to what is being said in other communities about your industry area? Listening for mentions about your company, social media identity, or competition? When you listen, are you responding – engaging in conversations – building a dialog between your company and your audience? Are your posts simply promotion, or are you enticing a conversation?

This is what I mean about “HOW” you do social media. Choose the best social media channels that dictate where your audience is, but make sure to follow the “relationship building mentality.” Once you have relationships then invite your audience to your community. In this day and age, no one comes over to someone house without having a degree of comfort. And you know what, that is no different in a social media context either.

Give it some thought and let me know what you think.

Make it happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, SocialSteve, Twitter, Uncategorized

26 responses to “Social Media – Concentrate on How, not What

  1. btw – coming from Linkedin

    Again, Steve….YOU are so so right. Thanks for the post…affirmation of ‘how’ I create and build relationships.
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  2. I think the message about listening and engaging is slowly getting through to the organisations who have traditionally used social media as a knee-jerk reaction.
    But organisations still fail to allocate enough resource to sustainable management of social media; nurturing and caring for the communities they are starting to create. Too often social media is misunderstood as cheap and quick, when in it is everything but, if used properly.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I share your views and frustration on social media. Social media is indeed about how you utilize social media to build relationships. Most people don’t understand this yet-this is why social media looks like it’s underperforming–because people don’t know how to use it effectively!

    • Hi Sana – no frustrations … social media is young. We can all help by sharing ideas and success stories and changing the way ALL go about it. Keep the faith; make your impact!

      Social Steve

  4. Hi Social Steve,

    So curious – why aren’t you consulting anymore – and you don’t have to share.

    Also currious – why are there so many social sites?
    Everyday I receive a request from someone to be on Namayze, Plaxo – lost count of the names!

    Does writing a blog on blogspot wipe out writing a blog on world press?

    Is it important to share on digg, stumbleon, etc etc.

    Should one share photos on google, facebook, tumbler, etc etc.

    It’s late & I’ve forgotten all the names of all the social media to do’s but a I can use my share button or widget and I guess I’ll be ok!

    Best to you, Annette Aaron

    • Hi Annette –

      The reason why I am not consulting is simple … I was offered a great and strong impacting opportunity.

      I think there are so many social sites because so many see the power of the social web. Many want to stake their success in this space. As always, there will be some winners and losers, but there will be big winners in the social space.

      I don’t think one blog platform is necessarily better than the next. I found the wordpress platform to be easy to use.

      One should share “content” and photos in various places, but most importantly, where you think you will capture your audience. But measure to make sure.

      Digg and stumbleupon are very important … they drive traffic when implemented correctly.

      Social Steve

  5. Yes and those companies think that they are real active in social media only if they are on twitter, facebook, etc.
    But social media for companies can begin with a simple company blog to make a the 2way conversation starting.

  6. Steve

    Always insightful and on the button, it is new to many and once they relax and shed the nervousness they may listen. Till then I am meeting too many people even though they deny it are still trying to sell sell sell, sadly they haven’t seen the shift in the market place and how the audience react.

    Then there are marketing companies scared too as they have to change their strategies.

    Sustainability and being flexible to go with the flow of new media are so important.


  7. Ann

    Hi SocialSteve,

    I found this post very useful, the importance of creating a relationship that leads to trust rather than just posting stuff, or trying the direct sell… which of course are the easiest posts to make. I am sure that you have already covered this, but could you do a post on how to go about creating a relationship with your audience… Thanks! I am enjoying your blog. I know I have a lot to learn!

  8. Hello Steve…and thank for your good directions and inspiration as I am quite sure many start-ups like ours are learning each day how to establish traction in the social media space.

    I have been blogging for quite some time on LinkedIn about the core issues in our country and my personal determination and commitment to be part of the solution! Furthermore, I created Eshopper’s with the sole objective of uniting Americans that are struggling to survive the economic crisis and this channel will (one day) help mobilize the collective purchasing power of Americans driving down the costs of goods and services we all must have!

    And so I wonder if you are the one that has the ‘Magic Formula’ I need to get the ball rolling on a grand scale?



    • Robert,

      There is no magic formula. I would put it like this. Is there a magic formula to finding the right group of friends … not likely … you need to listen, engage, have conversations, and then assess whether there are similar attributes. Much the same for social media done right. Organizations need to have value and then engage!


  9. Hi Social Steve,

    I saw this post from LinkedIn.

    I am so new to all this social networking and blogging stuff, I am GREEN!

    I am in a creative industry and wanted to educate my target, so I just launched a blog. But now I don’t know how to incorporate the social networking and blog together without feeling like I am selling my blog.

    Is there an approved way of promoting my blog without frustrating my audience?


    • If you are truly delivering value to a potential aucience, you are not selling your blog. A good way to ease into directing people to your URL is to find the existing communities they are already at. Join these communities, listen, and when you have a good understanding of the way the community behaves, join in the conversation. Once people in that community see you have something to offer (you are building relationships) then invite them to visit your place.

      Make sense?

      Social Steve

  10. PJ Naughton

    What kind of post do you add to Facebook business page to engage your followers and build dialog?

    • To gain an audience, you need to first deliver information that helps your target market and at the same time positions you as a subject matter expert. Your post should do this and at the same, literally invite dialog. Insert questions like “are you seeing the same challenges”, “does this help you solve ___ problem or is there some add information you need”, … Something of this nature. Does this help?

      Social Steve

  11. … got here from LinkedIn too. & thanks for the read.

    Most of the time I find its’ educating clients again about the importance of having a brand presence on a SM channel. Very similar to the early 90’s client discussions on reasons companies should have a website.

  12. Hi Steve,

    First off this is a great post. I found your site through LinkedIn.

    I think the key factor that companies need to understand is that social media allows for transparency – communicating and definitely building relationships based on trust. Also, I agree that while its important for companies to use social media as a platform to speak to their audience, I believe it’s more advantageous to be used as a listening tool. We now have access to how people think, communicate, and relate to companies, brands, and people. With that said, engagement is key! I think many companies get stumped with the “engagement” element of leveraging social media to their benefit.

    I am keen on topics revolving around social media, I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts. I just linked up with you on Twitter too!

    Jooyoun Kim

    • Hi Jooyoun,

      Thanks for your comments and great input. I totally agree with you on the listening aspect. In a number of my other posts, I talk about the LCR mentality – Listen, Conversation, Relationships … pretty much supports the point you make. If you want some more info on LCR, the article “Simplifying Social Media” at pretty much covers it.

      Thanks and best,
      Social Steve

  13. lesliewhittaker

    Great blog Social Steve. I still am astonished by the amount of companies that get on social media and still use the now very-old school approach of sell, sell, sell and then wonder why it doesn’t work. Shocking.

    I agree with Jooyoun, engagement is key. Too many people are still just trying to preach their products without even taking advantage of the goodness that is engagement with their customers. Learning what they love and what they hate and then acting on it.

  14. Steve,
    I’m another pair of eyes pulled through from LinkedIn (GW Alumni group), and glad to have caught your post. I’m breaking into SM for the purposes of my own growth/development, but also because my organization (one of the Institutes at NIH) is starting to grapple with SM implementation for our re-designed web presence. We’re not looking to “sell ourselves” as much as “engage, communicate, and educate” in a more meaningful way (around genetics & health especially). Naturally, being Federal, there are lots of reasons why NOT to use SM (which come from our IT security folks), but those of us that are in the biz of education know that’s not the right answer.

    My question, I suppose, is more toward how you (and others, of course) might suggest we make the case for using these relatively “unregulated” means of communication (eg, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube) to help in that endeavor, even though we’re part of a system that’s traditionally very risk-averse when it comes to letting go of control?

    • Andre,

      Be glad to answer your question, but realize one thing … I have no idea of regulation ramfications. Everything I state, must be cleared from a regulator perspective. That said … I would start by “listening”. Always the place I recommend for a start. Go to existing health and life science communities. Join these communities (as applicable to the area of NIH you represent). Listen to what people are saying in these communities. I am sure you will find many scenarios where you believe they have something wrong or an area that you can help if you chimed in. Capture these occurences and build a case that if NIH participated in the conversation you would a) be helping others in that sector, and b) help to reinforce NIH as an extremely important agency in the area of ____. Start at slow … take on one subject area at first. Track what people are saying in the web universe as a base line and then once you have started to “engage”. Show metrics to your bosses. Once you make some initial positive steps, look for more “freedom rope”.

      Hope this helps,
      Social Steve

      PS – While it is more corporate focused, one of the articles I wrote, “Winning with Social Media at Your Company: A Letter to the CEO” at might be helpful.

  15. Dear all,
    an example that can be useful for others..
    I’m afraid I’ve just made my first BIG mistake. The beginner…
    I started (3 weeks ago) promoting our company’s facebook page to other groups where we could find interested people. We deal in organic greek products, olive oil and olives. So the groups I targeted where mainly centered on food and environment/organic. Nothing abusing or clearly spam: I either informed them that their page had been added to our favourites, or gave them a little bit of info about olive oil, inviting to see the whole text on our fb page. I did this through my own “identity”, of course, adding a link to our fb page, as a signature. I don’t know if it’s all clear.
    I must confess I had not read (until today…in a few seconds you’ll understand why) fb terms and conditions of use, just imitated other’s examples for promoting their fan pages.
    Then suddenly today, while I was working, I got…thrown out! My account disabilitated, my email addresses not accepted anymore!
    Trying to understand what had happened (I though of a hacker, or a virus), I read the terms, and discovered that promoting products, websites or companies is forbidden. Forbidden??!! But everybody does it, even much more openly than I had done!
    What do you think of this?

    Thanks a lot.
    Best Regards,
    Silvia Lazzari

    • To be honest, I never read the terms myself. I am surprised that you can not promote, BUT I will tell you that is a social media context, there is a right way to promote and a wrong way. Don’t be a blatant advertiser. “Insert” your product into something helpful … like a recipe. Be subtle on promotion and bold in helping and sharing!

      Good luck,
      Social Steve

  16. Thanks Steve.
    Well, that’s exactly what I thought I had done, following your advice. My introduction to the fan pages I chose was ” Mani Blauel has just added xxx to our group’s favourite pages. Let’s work together” followed by link to fb fanpage. Or, I tried on some food groups the question “Who knows what acidity in olive oil is? Why it’s so important, what it is, what low or high acidity show? Answers on Mani Blauel page”. Link to our fb fan page again. Does it sound like blatant advertising?
    I considered it an honest way to start co-operating with these groups, exchange information and material. As you know, direct interaction between fan pages is not possible, so I had to do it through my personal facebook profile. I really don’t understand. Maybe it was a hacker, after all. But now I’m a bit scared. You know, losing all your profile, access to facebook, all your connections and the material I had uploaded means a lot of work to rebuild everything up….not to mention the fact that I had to create a new mail account, because the one I had been using was not accepted anymore…
    thanks again and all the best,

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