Putting the Social in your Social Network

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I’ve had two different and very positive reminders this week on why we need to keep the emphasis on “social” in social media.

First, I happened upon this great post from the always insightful CC Chapman yesterday on how “Social Media Has Made [PR People] Lazy.” CC was dead right, and when I posted my comment on his thoughts, CC graciously responded. It was a brief exchange of ideas between us that opens the door to future conversations and collaborations, which is what social media is all about. Now not only are CC and I connected, but he later interacted with a client of mine that will hopefully turn into a story for his blog. Double win.

The second scenario relates to some professional work I am doing for a client, trying to motivate people to participate in an online poll. Asking people to “click and vote” can be downright intrusive, so the ask needs to be both delicate and respectful. Spamming a link to everyone in my address book wouldn’t do, and so my client and I set about crafting and sending social media messages over twitter and facebook, then following up with previously supportive folks in a personal way, asking them to share the messages with their networks and invite their people to participate. In 12 hours, we TRIPLED the number of votes we got in the poll and are sitting pretty on the #1 slot as of this writing. (If you want to know more about the poll, send me a tweet and I’ll fill you in.)

For me, both examples reinforce the need to keep the humanity in what we do in social media, and in all aspects of our professional and online life.

It’s easy for any PR person to write a release or a pitch, slam it through a mail merge or blast it to a list, pretending to be personal. That’s bullshit and it’s lazy. Worse, it’s ineffective.

It’s also easy to get on twitter or facebook and shout (in all caps!!!) about your product or service. It’s wholly ineffective, too and doesn’t get you results.

To find the Holy Grail, you need to reach to people who you think would be interested in what you’re promoting, and give them a reason to expend the necessary brain cells on reading your pitch, release or message. Watch as your message spreads and help curate it as it does, chiming in where necessary and thanking people who choose to carry some of your water. If you’ve built the proper relationships and invested the time and energy in nurturing them, you’ll see fast results.

As I said in my post to CC, I’m still thankful for those lazy, fake publicists – the ones armed with massive lists and poor research – because it’ll keep their clients coming to me to fix something they have royally screwed up. Hopefully, you’re not one of them.

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