The liberating power of social media

Beyond basic survival, the greatest need of all human beings is to be loved and appreciated. We all crave the recognition and praise of our peers and loved ones. This trait of humanity is what Dale Carnegie leveraged into a vaunted worldwide training organization.If you have a large and active Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn network, you may have gotten to know some people’s personalities without ever having met them. You begin to notice trends and patterns in what topics tend to resonate toward further discussions.The interaction should be a wake-up call to business owners and their advertising/marketing people. The social media marketplace is at the very least “required reading” and, more realistically, the most important potential audience your brand has ever had.If someone posts a shiny object and a lot of people comment, someone else is bound to post an even shinier one, and many in the discussion thread may say “wow!” and re-post, re-tweet or forward it to others.The viral marketing power of this phenomenon is tremendous. It gives ordinary people extraordinary abilities to reach a wide and willing audience with their ideas.And the numbers now actively participating in social media are stunning — hundreds and hundreds of millions. Facebook alone has already surpassed 350 million users, and the growth pace hasn’t waned.Those who are nodding their heads, you know what I’m talkin’ about. Those who still think social media is a fad or are chagrined by its sudden emergence, have I got your attention? I still know of some outdated corporate policies that block social media use by employees. What a missed opportunity.Examples mount up daily of new business opportunities found and deals closed online before any competition had a chance to make a pitch.

One man’s experienceJust last week I spotted a Facebook wall post seeking recommendations for good Web 2.0 developers. I responded immediately and made an appointment to discuss a substantial piece of business. The project is an excellent fit for us and it would be completely invisible to me were it not for Facebook. I would never have known this deal existed.I noticed a new job announcement from a former colleague and didn’t know the company until I saw other people ask where she landed. Her answer was a firm I’ve previously called on. Turns out she’s replacing the retiring marketing director. We connected on Facebook and will likely meet soon over possible allocations of a marketing budget.Social media have been a direct factor in other business I’ve gained. These are just my own concrete results in a B2B environment. The consumer-driven conversations about brands and products go on like wildfire out there.Retail and consumer product organizations need to be in the middle of this. Their managers and salespeople should be flanking units in the marketing battles for consumers’ attention. It would be wise for any company to use their employees to fortify their social media strategies.The true power of social media to liberate individuals, the self-employed and small businesses is awesome.As little as five years ago, a business needed to raise capital prior to launching an effective marketing campaign. Now one needs only a vision, a computer and some time.This is not the article to go into the myriad free applications available on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and numerous blogging sites, but their business networking and publishing capabilities may astound you as you dig into them.Returning to my first premise about what motivates people — recognition and praise — today’s marketers and salespeople need to think carefully about how to position their offerings in the new media. Ask yourself these questions: • How can my product or service be seen as remarkable enough to talk about? • How might it help my social media contacts be recognized for their resourcefulness? • Why would someone want to forward (re-tweet) my information to friends and colleagues? • Need we make improvements to our product/service to win the attention and praise of our social media audience?In closing, I’d like to thank you for your interest in this article. I would also like to congratulate you for your inquisitive mind and excellent judgment in choosing what to read!Chuck Sink is a business executive at the Manchester advertising firm wedü inc. He also blogs on NHBR Network,