The term makes sense when you apply it to Facebook, where people are talking about personal subjects, the kind of thing you’d chat about in real life.  But what about LinkedIn – how is that social?  Isn’t it a business platform?

Let’s look at it from a different perspective.  When you go to a networking meeting, is that social?  If you don’t talk to anyone it might be, but we do talk – and not always about business.

It all comes down to one truth – people ‘buy’ people, not organisations.  After all, you can’t have a conversation with an organisation.

If you are looking to generate potential business, it all starts with relationships.  To have a relationship you need to have a conversation.  I don’t know of anyone who has responded to a first contact that is a blatant sales pitch. 

Personally, if I connect with someone on social media and they then hit me with a sales pitch, my feathers are definitely ruffled!  In my head I’m responding “Why do you think I need your – website service/SEO consultancy/business coaching/etc?  There’s nothing on my profile that indicates I might be interested and you certainly haven’t communicated with me to find out.”  Far from engaging me, it alienates me – and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

If someone doesn’t bother to engage in a conversation, it feels like they don’t care about you, only about getting some money out of you.

In fact, if someone does show an interest in my services from a contact made on social media, I always want to talk to them first, whether on the phone, on Skype or in person – I want to explore what they really want and find out IF I can help them and HOW.  One size definitely doesn’t fit all so the first thing I need to do is to find out more about them, their business and what they want to achieve.

That’s social!  It’s a conversation and a process of getting to know someone.  The very best customer service is based on getting to know people and making them feel you are interested in THEM. 

I have a favourite restaurant and I’ve taken lots of friends, family and business connections there.  Everyone loves it – and many of them have returned.  Why?  Because from the moment you arrive in the car park you get a personal service. 

  • If it’s raining there’s someone with an umbrella ready.
  • As you walk through the door ALL the staff nearby greet you.
  • Someone offers to take your coat and asks if you want to have a drink first or go straight to the table.
  • Someone reminds you not to trip on the small ramp from the bar to the restaurant or the shallow step into the main restaurant area.
  • Someone pulls out your chair, checks that you’re happy with the table and ensures everyone is comfortable before leaving you to look at the menu.
  • At some point the owner will come and have a chat.
  • Everyone is friendly, but respectful.
  • Everyone wears white gloves, which makes it feel special.
  • The food is sensational – and the bill is very reasonable.
  • Someone will always see you out and thank you for coming.

It’s no surprise that it’s always full.

This is why I want to visit again and again.  They make me feel that I’m important and individual and that I am special.

What has this got to do with social media?  The whole process is based on people – and social media is about people.  Social media is an opportunity to engage with people, not just talk at them, but to talk about the things that are important to them and show you are interested. 

You might not have an actual restaurant where people walk through the door, but you can create that feeling that you’re talking to people who are important, individual and special, if you make the effort.