Life Happens

istock_000021022342smallI was standing around talking with some friends the other day and I thought to myself, “You know, lately, I’ve been going to more funerals than weddings.” Many of my friends’ kids have gotten married and some of my friends have gone through their second marriages and so on. I don’t want to be a ‘Debbie downer’ about that kind of thing, but it’s part of life. That’s what social networking is all about. I want to talk today about 3 mistakes that many businesses make when it comes to using social networking and social media. I’m going to interweave some stories in there.

For the first story, I’m going to call in my ex-stepson. He is my first wife’s son and I was with him for 7 years. We have been friends ever since. As a matter of fact, when we were in Denver at a conference, and I say, “we”, meaning me and a bunch of my business cohorts, my stepson invited me to the restaurant that he manages. He’s a culinary expert and invited me out, so I jumped in an Uber and spent an evening with him in Denver in his environment, which was very, very cool.

I got the news a little while ago that his dad died in a tragic boating accident. Unfortunately, the news came over social media. I made sure that I could go and support him, because they have been friends for years. I’m not only talking about my ex-stepson, but also his dad. His dad used to play drums for the Christmas albums we made in my recording studio. He didn’t need to do that, but he did it because we were friends. We had a cordial and very nice relationship. That’s what social media’s all about.

Mistake #1 – Social Media vs. Social Networking

domain-1345116_960_720The first mistake that I see a lot of people making is using social media as a medium. Yes, it’s a place where you deliver content. It’s no different than the radio, TV, newspapers, etc. It’s a place to distribute content.

Social networking is all about the relationships. As I went through the receiving line and met my ex-stepson’s dad’s wife, who remembered his mother and me, I had to reminisce. I looked back and saw a whole bunch of history, including a number of people who I had not seen in years. Some of them I’ve connected with on social media and others have been following me on social media. I walked up to them and said, “Hey, it’s so good to see you. I’m so sorry to see you under these circumstances.” They started rattling off things about me and my business. Now, this certainly wasn’t about me. It was about the poor deceased person, but it was also about a community of people who were staying in touch in ways that I didn’t even realize. I couldn’t believe how much people knew about what was going on in my life as well as in other people’s lives.

That’s it. Social networking is all about people, and it’s all about being human. It’s trying to be somebody who can connect with people on that human level, which brings me to mistake number 2.

Mistake #2 – Trying To Be A Company vs. A Person

Brand and trust as a concept

Mistake number 2 is a lot of people just want to be their company online. They just want to be their business and that’s all they do is promote and sell their crap. Let’s look at this from a slightly different angle. If you’re a large company, like Apple or Hewlett-Packard, you’re in a different category than most of us in small businesses are. Bigger companies are on social media to be in the customer management, customer service and customer relation business, which is slightly different than what small businesses do. As small businesses, we are in the relationship marketing business. That means we are there to build relationships with people who are either potentially going to be our customers or are somebody who will maybe recommend us.

Second story I have to tell you is about a friend of mine. His name is Kirk and he’s been in the radio and journalism business for years. I’ve known Kirk since high school, and when my first book came out, he contacted me and said, “Hey, would you like to do an interview on the radio about your book?” He was interested to know, “How did you write a book? I didn’t know you were a writer,” amongst other things. It was just cool to connect up with somebody from high school who wanted to interview me on the radio. I recently found out via social media that Kirk has been battling cancer for the last 9 months, so I felt compelled to reach out to him and interview him.

retro-microphone_zy-0ooh_As a matter of fact, he is going to be episode number 193. Check it out. I wanted to interview him about was his life experience, and use it in a way that I could help you and say, “How do you conduct good interviews? What are some of the key things you have to think about? How do you ask questions? How do you deal with people who are going off-topic?” I wanted to pick his brain and return the favor, and that was all based on something that I saw on social media about him going through this struggle. Now, Kirk has throat cancer and jaw cancer. That’s like having a pitcher in baseball have his arm cut off, because if you’re in the radio business and you can’t talk, you’re not in business anymore. Luckily, he has enough control over his voice that he can talk. We had a great interview and I hope you listen to it.

Again, it’s all about being human. When you’re trying to look like this huge business and promote the things that you’re doing, think about it. You are in the relationship marketing space. It was from a simple social media post that I was invited to be on his radio show and vice versa. I invited him to be on my radio show, not only to use his expertise to help give him purpose, but also to communicate with all of our friends from high school which gave him a platform to talk to them. It became a win-win situation.

There’s a book that I love called “The 100/0 Principle”. My mentor, Al Ritter, wrote it. The point of the book is to give 100% of yourself 100% of the time, expect nothing in return and watch what happens. That’s it. It’s all about being in a relationship with no strings attached. That was the thing I tried to do was give my friend a platform to keep his voice rolling out there and to let him still enjoy what he enjoys the most which is talking, interviewing and answering questions.

Mistake #3 – Being Over Personal vs. Being A Personal Brand

communication concept - girl with megaphone over blue background

The third problem that I see most people do is taking social media too far the other way. That is, honestly people don’t care what you ate today, and especially, people don’t want to know your political opinions. They don’t want to know your religious opinions or any of those other things. Now, maybe you’re very passionate about that stuff, but there are forums for those posts. There are places to do that, but online is not the place to start creating divisive comments. This year’s political platform has been so divisive that there are many people de-friending each other. I could not believe how often I’m seeing this kind of stuff happen. The thing about this is, don’t be over the top. Don’t constantly post about what you’re eating or what your kids are doing.

Consider your audience to create engagement. Make sure that you’re being human, not just your brand, but don’t be divisive. Be somebody who allows other people to have their opinions, and you know what? You can always scroll past the stuff if it bothers you. There’s no reason you need to get into arguments. Make sure that you’re conscious and aware of the things that you’re posting and also be a little forgiving of those people who post things that you don’t like. If somebody drops an F-bomb when I post my caption contest, boom, I delete it immediately, because I cannot have F-bombs associated with my brand. Then I tell them in a private message, “Please don’t do that because I can’t have my brand associated with that.” Guess what? If they do it again, they’re immediately de-friended.

Final Thoughts

People love stories and I hope these helped illustrate how social media and social networking are intertwined with your business. One of my friends posted this on Facebook tonight – “Very informative seminar today, but not sure we would agree with her perspective on social media. She states that social media is not a branding tool or primary influencer??? Don’t know that I agree…thoughts?” My response was, “Social media is a relationship building tool first, content delivery platform second and advertising/brand building tool third!”

It’s about relationships and “You Are Your Brand!”

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and maybe some other limiting beliefs you have overcome!

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