Listening Social media is a now-countless list of communication platforms that are distinct from traditional media based on one clear attribute: they are two-way.

Can you talk back to your TV? Can you ask your newspaper for more details?

We have had the telephone, snail mail, email, text messaging and more for a while now. They are all two-way and social. But what characterizes the "social media" that we have been using in recent years is that current social platforms

  1. reach the masses and are
  2. in the hands of everyone.

"Democratic media" might be an even more interesting label for the phenomena we are experiencing. Access to mass communication is in the hands of everyone now and the ones who are failing in this new paradigm are the big businesses who capitalized the most in the old world of what we now call "traditional media".

Hear "Social", Think "Human"

Many businesses are failing because they are not social. Who socializes with a business? No one. We DO socialize with the people who work in a business.

The businesses who are benefitting most from the emergence of "social media" are the ones who put their people out front to engage potential customers in a truly social way.

Turning your business into a social one is what counts. Putting your company on various social platforms will do your business more harm than good if your business is not

  1. listening,
  2. putting your people out in front of your products to have conversations and interact with your customers, and
  3. considering all the possible ways that you can allow your customers to have inputs into how your company grows and provides its services.

I actually can't stand the term "social media" and I hope it dies soon. Talking about it is like talking about the internet, as we did a lot of in the late 1990s/early 2000s. We look back at the emergence of the internet as a lot of navel gazing, snake oil sales, and fear-based selling (ie. "you'll miss out if you aren't on the internet").

There is no rush. Ignore the snake oil salesmen, the "gurus" and the "social media ninjas". The sky will not fall if you don't jump on twitter right away, just like it didn't fall if you didn't have a website until 2001.

What's more important is to change the orientation of your company towards listening, engaging your customer, and growing according to their needs.

The new media platforms won't do anything for you if you don't get that right.