How to be an Expert at Social Media

Thanks for coming to my wedding, now have I got deal for you!

Thanks for coming to my wedding, now have I got deal for you!

Mastering social media is not about technology at all. Anyone can learn the tools with a little research and effort. The hard part is really connecting with people. That is what relationships are all about, finding some connection. Getting friends just so that you can sell them something doesn’t work offline so why do so many people expect it to work online? Trust is everything. Where is the trust?

A good way to think about getting good at social media is to consider being the bride or groom at a wedding. Everyone at your wedding has some connection to you or your spouse. Some may be great friends that you have known all of your life, and some might be distant relatives that you hope to never see again. In most weddings there are so many people and such limited time that you can’t possibly give every person much attention. The bride and groom generally go around the room and give everyone a little of their time, but not too much because it is their night after all.

That is exactly what it is like online. You need to talk to as many people online as you can and try to interact with them on a personal level, but you also know that you have to reach a broad audience so you quickly move on to the next person. You need to temper the depth of your communication with each individual to achieve enough breadth over the entire crowd. Social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, comments, etc. increase the number of guests at your wedding to anyone in the world with a computer connection.

When you engage someone in your wedding you can say, “It is great to see you. Thanks for coming. What’s new in your life? I see you lost a little weight!” That is the human approach to relationships.

If the wedding was anything like the types of relationships people have online, the conversation would be more like this, “Thanks for coming. Can I get your email address? You may not know that I have this great new consulting company. I am a guru and expert and I have this 20 page ebook that I can sell you right now for only $40. It is for a limited time only and the price will double after the wedding is finished and I get back to my computer. Half the people here already bought it so you would be stupid not too.”

It is hard to argue with results. The people with the second sales pitch are going to get more money out of people in the beginning. That is obvious, because the first conversation is not selling anything. However, what do you think will happen over time? Which approach is likely to earn the trust and respect of people in the long run. Sure it is nice to make some quick cash upfront and constantly keep churning through new subscribers to find the small percentage that can be convinced to fork out cash immediately.

I have to believe that those sales tactics are not going to work for much longer. Every time I see a long sales page with the testimonials, limited time offer, count down clock and guarantee seal, it is an automatic click away. I don’t want to give my email address to start getting two or three sales pitches every week. I don’t want the free ebook with limited content, loaded with affiliate links. It is not worth my attention.

I do have to admit that I am a sucker too. Sometimes those offers are so well written that I just have to give my email address. And, occasionally I am surprised by the quality of free content. However, the purveyors almost always degenerate the social interaction into solely a financial transaction. They are not trying to help me. They are trying to make as much money as they can. Why else would there be so many barriers and intermediate steps to access the free ebooks or reports. If they really wanted to cement a relationship they would have all the information for free on their website and not require an email address unless I feel their content is worth subscribing to. More and more people are being turned off from the sales pitches and endless auto-responders pretending to be your friend. I know those sites will lose effectiveness over time. I just wish it was sooner rather than later.

Of course, the other side to this problem is that we all want and need to make a decent living. People who create great content and resources should be rewarded for their efforts. Should the metrics be maximizing return on investment or maybe we need to think about our connections with fellow human beings in a different way. I am an entrepreneur and I am all for making profits, but maybe the time is coming when we can all become focused on maximizing our contribution to other global citizens.

Genuinely caring about and interacting with other people goes a long way to building trust and rapport. There are so many people online who just don’t get that idea. Hyped up sales pitches, forms to collect personal information and content-less websites are barriers to developing a relationship. Give without expecting anything in return and you just might find yourself with riches beyond your imagination. What do you think would happen to all your friends and relatives if you didn’t talk to them at your wedding?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

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