I am not a professional marketer. I see social media as a way of saying “I see you.” It is really about recognizing there is someone on the other side of the conversation. Recognition involves three simple steps:
1) Listening. The bulk of people who engage in social media are doing so to talk first, listen second (if at all). If you demonstrate that you’re really listening, others will value that skill. Do a Google search on “grow bigger ears” for further info.
2) Connecting. There’s a limit to the number of people you can maintain significant social relationships with–it’s called the Dunbar number (and it’s generally agreed to be 150 people). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to connect with people outside your traditional network. Be the person that helps the competitors. It will be remembered. Don’t think that the customer is there for you. That is the old media model. Look at these people and ask, “What do they need?” You don’t have to start a community from scratch. You just have to participate in one. Be part of the community and be helpful. How can we equip people? Stop, collaborate, and listen.
3) Publishing. If all you do is listen, people will start to wonder if you’re trustworthy. Everyone gathered around the campfire has a responsibility to share at times.