Gini Dietrich

Social Media Philosophy

By: Gini Dietrich | December 8, 2009 | 

Field of DreamsI talk to people every day about social media and there is a common theme: “I don’t understand why I care what people say on Twitter” or “I have a Facebook fan page, but no one is talking to me there” or “I have a LinkedIn profile, but I own the company so I don’t see a need for updating it.”

Everyone is so focused on the tools, and not the philosophy or the strategy, that it’s no wonder it’s overwhelming and exhausting…and that it’s not working for some.

So let’s start from the beginning. If you’re thinking about social media, from a tool perspective (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, Google Wave, Yammer, etc.), you’re not ever going to achieve what you want, both from business and personal points of view.

Social media is about having better relationships.

* Better relationships with your customers/clients.

* Better relationships with employees or colleagues.

* Better relationships with prospective customers/clients.

* Better relationships with stakeholders.

* Better relationships with potential talent.

Better relationships, on a one-to-one level, using the tools that are available to you (right now) to make you more efficient.

Most of us that spend time daily in social media understand the value and power of it.

* A customer who is unhappy can be turned into a brand ambassador, just by listening to what they have to say, responding to them, and making changes.

* A new product or location can be launched by crowdsourcing ideas from your community in order to make them feel like they have ownership in your brand.

* Someone across the country or even overseas has access to your product or service.

But none of these things happen if you build your social networks and expect people to come to you. Or if you use the social networks as just another way to sell your wares.

I want you to do two things:

1. Listen, listen, listen. Listen to what people are saying online about you, your company, your competitors, and your industry. Tools such as Google alerts, Backtype, and TweetBeep will help you do just that and will send you alerts so you don’t have to go out and get the information yourself.

2. Think about social media as a way to network 24/7. What is the first thing you do when you go to a networking event (after you get a drink)? You introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. You join a conversation. You ask questions. You listen. Then you decide if the people you’ve met are going to become a referral source, a new customer, a new employee, or a new friend.

If you listen and if you network, once you build your channels (on the platforms where your audiences already are) they will come.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

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  • Yes! Yes! Yes! Gini is absolutely on target with everything she says above. It’s not about the tools. It’s about the relationships!

  • Very much agree it is about relationships. Through relationships you can now gain/earn back something that was lost “Brand Loyalty”!

  • Great post Gina! Especially for sales professionals looking to grow their personal brand. I think a lot of sellers are missing the mark using twitter to sell their product or service directly (and randomly) to buyers. Twitter, Facebook etc. (in my humble opinion anyway) are great tools for making connections and starting, developing and nurturing relationships with clients, customer and prospects.

    Make the connection, build the relationship, sales will follow.

    Thanks for another great post.

  • Loved your points about disgruntled customers becoming brand ambassadors and crowdsourcing ideas – great play on Field of Dreams too! 🙂

  • Gini Dietrich

    Thanks for the comments everyone. One blog post, one speaking engagement, one client at a time I hope we can all teach companies the real value of social media. How to build relationships versus sell. Les is right; build the relationships and sales will follow.

  • Good post. We have never really moved away from relationships, now it’s easier to build them.

    I would add that you also have to give to get (e.g. share). For example, it’s helpful to share posts you like via Twitter, share your views via comments, share your thoughts. Give your audience something to discuss, something to engage with you about and you will find discussions happen and relationships are built.


  • Gini Dietrich

    YES, Sherrick! Listen, engage, scratch others backs. It’ll come back five fold in your favor. And don’t be sales-y or too anxious.

  • Initially, some business owners found the telephone to be a nuisance. Customers calling to ask inane questions; sales people talking to “Someone, I don’t know who! She’s on the phone every time I turn around!*” Then there was the novel idea of cell phones. Working in the Midwest at the time cell phones (in a bag, how cool!) were made available, many board members scoffed at that expense and “waste of time.”

    Most of us are still on the brink of social meda. It will take time. The thing to keep in mind is that the relationship to the tools themselves, as well as the relationships they enable, need to be arrived in a natural fashion in order for them to be fully adopted and not just viewed as another pr gimmick. So those of us who are champions will need to be patient. And we’ll need to hire Gini, again and again and again, to keep gently making the case for the tools that can build a better connected, more transparent world! Go Gini, Go!

    *Growing up in rural Montana, I can remember this…I remember when the phone line went to a private number instead of a party line. Most of you likely don’t consider a land line to be “new” technology…but hey, it’s a big world and 95 percent of its populace still don’t have phones. I’m just here to broaden your perspective!

  • This is right on, Gini. Social media is more about the social than the media. That’s the number one thing to remember. Be a decent human being, and the business will come. But first, people have to know, like and trust you.

    I like to say: Be interesting (offer something of value) and interested in others. Nobody likes a narcissist. And this is NOT advertising, so don’t jump in and start yelling/promoting what you’re selling. Let us want to know more about you. Like Sherrick said, GIVE GIVE GIVE. This means Retweet other people’s content, comment on their blogs, find and share good links to articles, news, videos, how to’s. Banter a little. (OK, for some of us, it’s a LOT.) Show some personality,but not the kind that makes us want to refer you to a good therapist. It’s about balance, and being in community. Hence the saying “Build Your Community Before You Need It.” If you build a reputation for being a likeable, interesting, generous person/company, they will come to you for business. Oh, yeah, and be patient. This is not a drive-thru.

  • Ellen Rossano

    Hi Gini – What perfect timing! I had two meetings today that included text book rejections of social media – I couldn’t have scripted them better. This is a great summary of the “why” of social media. You don’t assemble a set of tools and then decide what to build. I really like the “Field of Dreams” reference for just that reason.
    Like anything worth doing, building on these platforms takes time, and that takes patience.

    Thanks for your insight!

  • Well said Gini. I’ve always thought social media would be so much easier if people weren’t involved… at all, but here you go messing with my plans again. 😉

    Seriously though, thanks for sharing this post as it’s a great reminder on what truly matters… as fun as technology and all the toys can be, we need to keep the main thing the main thing.

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