Imagine if cars came without engines. They would look nice, but they wouldn’t do much. You could wash and wax the car all day. Admire how good it looks in your driveway. But there would always be a voice in your head questioning why you bought it. Why you maintain it. What purpose it serves.
Then one day, you see a car driving down your street, and then another. What wizardry is this?
People Engage With Other People
Countless articles have been published on how businesses ought to leverage social media. Most miss an absolutely critical truth.
People don’t generally engage with brands. They engage with other people.
If you just want a nice-looking lawn ornament, go ahead and put that powerless car in front of your house. If you actually want to go somewhere, you’re going to need a different approach.
It’s Time to See What Social Media Offers
The crux of the social media problem is that we’re still seeing it through an old, centralized corporate advertising lens. This leads us to treat social media as a broadcast medium — as a bullhorn.
We’re failing to adapt the outdated one-to-many advertising mind-set to a more modern, socially interconnected many-to-many world. When we’re broadcasting, were not conversing. And we’re missing a massive opportunity as a result.
A Chorus of Authentic Voices
Together, your employees have a vastly greater voice than your centralized marketing channels. Their collective voice is also far better targeted, infinitely more authentic and much better equipped to engage in real business-building conversations. While you’re hollering into your communications bullhorn, thousands of your people remain silent.
Your brand doesn’t live in your blog posts or the followers of your LinkedIn company page. If you look closer, you’ll likely find that most of the people following your company are either job seekers or people trying to sell you something.
It’s in your people’s LinkedIn connections where you’ll find gold. That’s where you’ll find your customers, your partners and huge numbers of people who ought to be your next customers.
A Better Way Forward
The social media revolution is entering a new phase. We’re in the early days of arming and empowering our people to do what they’ve always wanted to do: accelerate their careers by building and strengthening relationships with the people who matter most to them and to their growing success.
Social media isn’t the only way they do this, but it’s by far the most scalable and consistently sustainable way to credibly establish subject matter expertise, build and strengthen business relationships, and spark value-creating conversations.
In today’s pandemic world where many people work from home and face-to-face gatherings of every sort are constrained, enabling your employees to thrive on social media is more important than ever.
Thousands of Bullhorns?
Am I suggesting that you mandate that your people blast your content like an army of mini-bullhorns? Absolutely not. Your opportunity encompasses far more than your content.
The world doesn’t need more content. It needs more of the right content in the right hands from the right sender at the right time. We don’t need more bullhorns, we need more conversations. And content can be a great conversation starter.
We have a bright future if we move beyond central broadcasting. Opportunity awaits those firms that empower their people to share — at their own pace and in their own way — the content that best supports the relationships and the conversations they value most.
Some of that content will be your brand content. And delivered by your people it will find a larger, more receptive audience. Some of that content will come from industry publications, academic institutions and subject matter experts.
When each of your people has easy access to a curated stream of the most current and most valuable content for their clients and their future clients, they’ll be ready to build and sustain engagement like never before.
A Different Measurement Mindset
To realize the power of this bright future we need to think differently about measurement. We can’t judge our success on form fills or other transactional metrics. Relationships aren’t transactional. Reputation isn’t transactional. Conversations aren’t transactional.
Each company will need to find the best way to tie its content to relationships and to revenue. It will look different in each company, and rest assured that many of the most forward-thinking firms are already well down this road.
Putting people into our social media and content marketing strategies is like putting an engine into the car. Only then will you leave your competitors in the dust.
Steve Watt is director of marketing for Seismic LiveSocial, a social engagement platform trusted by many of North America’s largest banks, wealth management firms, insurance companies and technology providers.