Way back when I started going to meetups explaining what this social media stuff was all about, there was one important message that I kept hearing over and over. In its simplest form, the message is this:
Social media is nothing more than word of mouth.
That’s it. It’s not about Pinterest or Twitter or Instagram or blogging or YouTube or any of the other mediums out there. It’s simply word of mouth. And those who are good at getting people to interact with them, to create stories and experiences with them and share these with others… those are the true social media practitioners.
If you have a blog or a website and you’re trying to use social tools to drive more traffic to your website, you are NOT employing social media, you’re building an audience. It’s not bad, they’re just two different things.
If I put a pen in your hand, does it make you a writer? A poet? An artist? Or just a person holding a pen?
So, before you say you want to engage in social media, define first what it is you’re hoping to accomplish. And then know that just because you’re sharing information through online channels, it doesn’t mean you’re engaging in social media. It means you’re broadcasting, answering questions, delivering customer service. The social media part comes when your audience, customers, friends, whoever, become a part of what you’re building. They take ownership for having an influence over your brand and they do so simply by sharing.
Social media isn’t new. It isn’t a tool. It’s a technique. And when applied correctly using tools, either online or off, it’s a more powerful force than any we could hope to harness individually. Because the whole is greater than the sum of its part, it’s impossible for social media to exist without a community behind it.