Rewind to when you were first invited by a friend to attend your first birthday party … probably at the age of 4 to 6-ish…. This was the time when friendship (outside of your immediate family) had real meaning…. The nervousness you felt at that time was because you didn’t know what to expect. You didn’t know the rules of the game. You were, rightfully so, afraid of making some kind of mistake.
This defense mechanism you had back then was VERY good for you…. The problem is, as adults, we’ve lost some of this sense of caution with new social settings…. Many business people are (poorly) assuming that the world of Social Media is just another business marketing forum…. Sadly, they’re not unlike the kid who blows out the candles, instead of the birthday-boy, and sprays spit on the cake. This kid is going to be a social pariah for a lonnnnng time.
How do avoid this fate in the new world of Social Media and Social Networking? — other than NOT spitting on the cake?
Here are some tips:
- Chris Brogan gives us a simple insight that “Social media is not marketing and marketing is not social media.”
- Li Evans gives us a more comprehensive analysis in her post “What social media insn’t – 10 misconceptions.“
Let’s return to our birthday party metaphor to give you my perspective;
- Hiring an advertising agency or marketing agency to get you into the world of social networking would be functionally the same as (at six years old) hiring the same firm to attend the birthday party on your behalf. Sound silly? … that’s because it IS!
- Show up to the party and immediately dive into a sales pitch to the kid eating cake sitting next to you. He’s going to look at you like you’re some kind of bug. That’s because in his mind, you ARE!
- Mingle at the party and talk about yourself the entire time. You’ll quickly get shut down from anyone having a conversation with you!
These nightmare scenarios actually happen daily on the web as business people are stumbling into the world of Social Networking. They’re making these social faux pas by not knowing the rules and by assuming it’s just a new marketing medium…. It’s not.
My advice to you: Take me up on my personal invitation to the Social Networking party … everyone is having fun!!! However, until you feel comfortable with the rules of the game, don’t make a fool of yourself. Don’t stand on the tables and keep the lampshade off of your head!