By Brian Robson
A misnomer: Social media is exclusively an online phenomenon, where people post, tweet, comment and link to this piece of news or that column of opinion; that it is a purely virtual phenomenon – that all you need to do is create a name and select an avatar for your social alias, so to speak – in which the act of socializing itself, with its emphasis on manners and respect, does not matter
In truth, technology makes every consumer a source of media unto him- or herself – a word-of-mouth marketer with the ability to popularize a business through Facebook or Twitter, or promote a brand with effusive praise and five-star reviews.
But there can be no effective use of social media without the in-person benefits of socializing with consumers on a one-on-one basis.
Indeed, my own business sells products of sufficient complexity – we offer a variety of pumps, valves and lubrication systems to ensure that each client’s machinery keeps running – that these things do not lend themselves to a neat two-sentence summary or a 140-character-count tweet.
The social aspect of my job, which should also be the point of using social media in general, is to socialize by explaining the particulars of a given product or service.
For it is not enough for me to shake a customer’s hand, and have that simple act constitute the art of socializing.
I need to offer help, answer questions, clarify objectives, demonstrate how certain types of equipment work and always make myself available to prospective consumers.
That socializing furthers the media part of this twofold approach: When I do the tasks described above, or when my employees advance the same goals because we are equals in this endeavor, customers can take to Facebook and Twitter – they can go to YouTube or Vine or Vimeo – and give us the validation we deserve and the credit we know we must earn.
And, while this relationship may seem self-evident, too many companies forsake the chance to do what is natural – to act like the social beings we are, who crave conversation and thrive on attention from those around us.
Return, in other words, the social element to its rightful place within social media.
Call this proposal a rebirth of that once-obligatory – and indispensable – practice known as excellent customer service.
In that regard, the customer should not have to wait for a worker to belatedly appear – the consumer should not be the lone presence in a store, left to walk the aisles and search the shelves in vain – as if serving this person is optional rather than mandatory.
Socialize is my keyword because it is the key that unlocks the benefits of social media.
It is the catalyst of online discussion, the source of free advertising and the outlet to a global community of like-minded enthusiasts.
Seizing this opportunity should be a priority for every company, and an inseparable part of every brand’s identity.
Socialize with excitement.
Socialize with energy.
Socialize to succeed, period.