Social marketing seems on the surface to be the most unlikely development of the past 20 years. In fact, it’s a marketing phenomenon that I would have found hard to predict in any era. The idea of bringing together large numbers of computer geeks in order to virtually socialize makes no sense at first blush. However, these days the term “geek” has become downright socially acceptable. Geeks are commonly thought of as that not-so-rare breed of highly developed technicians who are by nature prone to blurt randomly, snort when they laugh, suffer from occasional wind, and wax poetic about their Pez collections. How do I know this? Well… onzepagina I married one. I also have a tad bit of that recessive Geek gene myself. (Don’t worry: I remanded the Pez collection in the divorce, and I take Beano as a matter of intelligent self-interest.) If you haven’t yet found social success online, there’s still hope for you yet. Here’s how you can successfully use social marketing media, even if you’re a bit of a social introvert.
The Internet itself was formed on just such a premise: the idea of uniting smart, quirky, typically introverted individuals through electronic means. The Internet morphed from the ARPANET of the mid-1960’s, an electronic hang-out where some of the geekiest members of society such as U.S. government employees and college professors could share research, compare topical news features, and (yes!) socialize. Fast forward to the present day, and even soft drink companies and pizza vendors are eschewing Super Bowl advertising in favor of spending the big bucks on Facebook. Madison Avenue is now putting hundreds of millions of dollars directly into social marketing. Who knew? The advent of social media puts pressure on the non-conformist to tow the social line and be counted in networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. This is not an easy place to be for those of us who didn’t go to the prom or even notice who was elected homecoming king and queen.
Even if you’re not a total geek, you may feel uncomfortable using social marketing media to put your point across in a business setting. If so, you’re not alone. Take heart, because I’m about to clue you in on a couple of very reassuring points for using social marketing media tactics, whether or not you are a social introvert.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came to me when I was a shy 18-year-old, making ends meet as a shop girl in New York City. The advice was delivered like a paper doily over a glass of fine vintage wine I was too inexperienced to appreciate. The messenger was a wealthy middle-aged socialite from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, sharing her pointed wisdom with me like a stock tip while my college roommate, her daughter, flirted notoriously with the restaurant waiter, a Greek (the “R” is intentional) fresh off the boat with a thick head of hair, a handsome face, and a slight leer. I decided right then that you could get away with just about anything if you had good manners.
That was the first part of the message. The other part was what my roommate’s mother told me directly about socializing: in conversation, put the focus on the person you’re speaking with. Ask them about themselves, their education, their upbringing, their work, their family. Draw them out. Listen closely to what they’re telling you, and thoughtfully work to understand them. Don’t be a pest, mind you, but do express genuine interest in what makes them tick. If you can do this, not only will you have a very decent store of inside information, but you’ll also win the hearts and minds of raving fans. In short you’ll be a social success. More to the point, you won’t be focused on your boring Pez collection or your own feelings of social awkwardness. In fact thinking about yourself when presented with the astonishing array of details about society at large will appear all but silly by contrast. Get outside of yourself. Learn about others. Be of service.
So many people use social marketing as a platform for droning on about themselves, enumerating their accomplishments and trying to impress others in the hope of a sale or making the right connection. It’s a waste of time. Instead, deliver value to your network. Share your authentic self and the best of your knowledge. Share it like vintage wine, even if you think others are too inexperienced to appreciate it. If you do that, your social marketing will take on a delicate, luminous sheen and you will attract all the right people into your fold.