In my personal and professional life I try hard not to discriminate, keep an open mind and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But as I have become more involved with social media on an entertainment and business level, I find myself giving a preference to other social media friends and businesses. Yikes! Am I becoming a social media snob?
When I discuss my use of social media with other business associates the question they invariably ask is, “But are you generating leads and dollars with your efforts?” Because of the nature of my business and my short engagement with all things social media, I have only had small results so far. While I may not be the poster child for social media success, I do know of other businesses that have made sales from their use of social media.
A very tangible example is the subtle but significant shift in my purchasing habits. Through a ‘friend’ on Foursquare I found out that she is a hair stylist. Well, I needed a hair cut, so I emailed Daniel and set an appointment. When Thanksgiving was coming up, and no one wanted to cook, I remembered a local restaurant had started following me on twitter. So I picked up the phone and made a reservation at Scotts Seafood for no other reason except for the twitter connection. With Christmas rapidly approaching and no desire to hit the mall I remembered that I had made a connection on Facebook with the owner of a local gift store. The next time I was in the area, I swung into PeraDice, met the owner, and picked up some gifts.
Why was I giving a preference to businesses that I connected with through social media? The short answer was commonality. All of those businesses had made a conscious decision to invest their time and energy marketing through social media just like I had. None of us were social media professionals and most of us were overwhelmed with all the different platforms, options and advice floating around on the web. We had a shared experience of trying to navigate the raging waters of social media. From my vantage point, I was going to give them first crack at earning my business.
To put a finer tip on the brush, my interaction with the businesses was on a personal level. Before I had even made an appointment with Daniel I had learned about her passions and interests in life through her posts and check-ins. Through social media I found out that the owner of PeraDice and I had attended the same university. These folks just weren’t marketing their business, they are telling the world about who they are. It takes guts to market not only your business but yourself. There is also the element that when someone friends, follows, or connects with you through social media it’s like getting a virtual ‘High Five’, you’re okay! Who doesn’t like that?
But I don’t want to leave the impression that only small businesses have caught my attention through social media. It is far more difficult for larger companies to create that personal connection. I have fun reading and commenting on the Facebook posts of companies like Blue Shield of California and Brooks Brothers. If it had not been for the posts and tweets of Kelly Johnson of the Sacramento Business Journal, I probably would have let my subscription lapse. But she keeps me engaged and reminds me of the value that the Business Journal offers.
For me, social media is all about content. Sure, I want a good laugh at a photo or a funny anecdote, but I really enjoy reading and learning. Recently I shared a Paul Krugman opinion piece I found interesting about deficits and debt in the United States. Two people made comments and shared information that I had never considered. Ryan Hoskins provided a link on bitcoin a decentralized electronic cash system using peer-to-peer networking, digital signatures and cryptographic proof to enable irreversible payments between parties without relying on trust. What? Ryan, my heating and cooling guy had a passion for studying monetary policy in the U.S. How wonderful. If my social media friend Ryan recommended it, I am going to give it a little more attention and thought.
On an entertainment level, there are few social media applications that make me laugh harder than Twitter. I am amazed at what people can compress into 140 characters about politics, life, or sports. Often times there will be a perspective on a topic from someone a continent away that, again, I had never contemplated. Social media pushes me out of my structured cozy nest to see how other people are approaching life’s problems and issues.
Of course, not everyone wants to have their world view challenged. But if you are going to engage in social media you will have to face the fact that not everyone thinks like you. At the end of the day I am confident that our world will be a better place because of the conversations that social media has generated.
When I look back, there is no doubt that social media is becoming a larger influence on me and my purchasing decisions. While I have not completely abandoned traditional approaches to marketing or purchasing, I am developing deeper relationships and respect for those people engaging in social media. Does that make me a social media snob? Let me tweet about it and I’ll get back to you.
BTW, I am certainly not a social connection snob. Feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or find me on Instagram, Tumblr and Foursquare under Insuremekevin or Kevin Knauss. It’s not a party until you join us.