I love when I hear conversations about social media that contain complaints about a lack of response to marketing messages. Too often, it seems, people tend to focus on marketing and not the social part of it all.
Social media is about building communities and developing relationships. Yes, there is currently a large commercial component to social networking but, that doesn’t mean that the expected elements of social communication are irrelevant in these web based arenas.
Think about this scenario: you’re at a networking event and someone who you’ve never met and knows nothing about you comes up to you and shoves their business card in your hand, and then walks away. How likely are you to want to work with that person, even if you need or want what they are selling? Most people would be more likely to toss that card in the nearest trash can and move on.
Networking is not (or, at least, shouldn’t be) about closing the sale and moving on; it’s about creating and developing relationships with those that might be interested in your services or are connected to and influencers of others that would be interested. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust.
If you were to just jump on the nearest social network, bombard all of your contacts with spammy sales messages and have no interaction with them, you’re not really behaving any differently than the guy that shoves a business card at you. Let your contacts get to know you, share information with them, join into their conversations (when you have something relevant to say), develop a relationship so that they trust you, and let them know that you’re there to help them.