Try this: Hand out brochures and business cards to everyone as soon as you walk in to your friend's holiday house parties this week. Don't say hello or offer season's greetings, just hand out those materials and shout out periodically to the room that everyone there should "like" you.

Not very social is it? (I'm giggling a little just writing this)

But this actually plays out every day on social networks and is a sure sign that the businesses who do it are looking at social media as a new broadcast channel like radio and newspapers. It's not.

Social Businesses Build Communities

Social networks are not new broadcast mediums. How do we know this? Because businesses who take their ads, marketing messages, and ad-buy dollars and throw them on social networks without adapting them to the new medium are going unheard and their loyalty ratings are dropping.

Social lets you know the people who like and support your brand. "Broadcast reach" matters when you assume most of the people who see your message aren't interested in hearing it. It's a numbers game. If 100,000 will see your ad, maybe a handful of them will need what you are offering and call you. Right?

But a social business builds on the significant advantage of being able to know customers on a personal level. To listen to them, talk with them, and make sure you are meeting their needs. And the public dialogue within the community you build for your brand is what future customers will find when they search for what you offer.

The Dangers of Broadcasting on Social Channels

If someone searches for what you have to offer today, will they find your marketing materials or will they find your community? And which one is more likely to draw them into a long-term relationship of support and loyalty with the people on your team?

People, social, relationships, community. How many ways can we spell out that social is a human medium and the old broadcast rules breed isolation for brands who still follow them.

Understand that nobody gets social media in the beginning. So these mistakes are common and normal. But building a community around your brand takes time, and until you have vocal clients online representing who you are to them and how you have helped them, what you're posting is trying to broadcast, not socialize.

The social networks we have today are realizing the very purpose of the Internet: to connect people with people. Don't destroy this powerful potential by collecting an online reputation for anti-social behaviour. It's as unappealing online as it is at a house party.

How will you make human connections online in the new year?

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