Social media is about relationships, about multi-way communication, dialogue and engagement.
It is distinctly different than the ‘publishing industry’ which as its name suggests – publishes content and then distributes that content.
The web at one time was simply an arm of the publishing industry – just another medium to distribute content.
But with the publishing model, it is all about what I call the BRUTE force formula:
Volume of People X Volume of Content = Success.
The web has changed the information and content landscape. The brute force model is not competitive online. There are too many automated ways to do it better, outsource it, etc.
Most of all people want content related to a specific niche. They want information that has unique value when they search and read online.
Thus emerged the Social Transition – or Web 2.0 – where people could impact what is produced. This was the start of two-way communication online as a way of doing business.
Web 2.0 led into the social revolution. This ere allowed the people to actually be part of the content creation process.
That is how success on Twitter, Facebook, and other social mediums is done – by having people take part and lead the creation of the content.
Both areas still exist online (publishing model and social model) but the social model is harder to emulate, but more sustainable. Best of all, if done correctly, the social model can be viral in many examples.
Many online sites, especially news related sites are still following the publishing model. They are moving slowly towards a social model with bloggers, live reporters, citizen reporters, video, etc. But they have a long ways to go.
Facebook (and other social media sites) offer online space to businesses and organizations. Majority of organizations strategy on Facebook has really been 90% publishing. They post links along with brief commentary out to friends and hope someone reads it. They intersperse this ‘news’ or ‘ads’ with a mixture of un-related content design to gain attention, or at the very least entertain their online readers.
Some of the content gets comments which a good organization will then be allowed to interact with their visitors. This methodology has been accepted by some, but no viral growth like the social model can accomplish.
I mentioned the Brute Force Formula for publishing above – well here is the social model formula
Inspired Unique content x (Interaction + Engagement) x ‘Secret Sauce’ = Viral Success
For a business it needs one more to be a function of their brand / product:
Function (Viral Success, Brand, Product)
Inspired Unique Content: The Social model is not about publishing lots of content. It is about discovering what your audience feels, and turning that into some form of expression (article, post, picture, video, quote, sentence, conversation, etc).
Interaction: You must join in the conversation – others peoples conversation – not only your own.
Engagement: You must make the conversation multi-dimensional and personal. You must speak with people not AT people.
‘Secret Sauce’ – many are looking to define this. Go to any meeting, night club, bar or social gathering and you will see that guy who is good looking and lots of people around him, beautiful girl on his arm, everyone wants to be his friend. Easy to define in this case (why Shakira, JB and Vin Diesel are viral on Social Media).
But you also see that guy sitting at another table, again with a very successful lady on his arm, a number of friends joined in conversation, and as he moves around the room, always engaged and interacting with others. He is not handsome, rich, or a superstar, yet he has ‘it’. What he has is that ‘Secret Sauce’. Social media has examples as well (Bob Marley, Mari Smith, etc).
In majority of cases – the ‘Secret Sauce’ has some common ingredients, but also has unique ingredients to every person or organization.
Your social media strategy must be aimed at determining factors that increase the level (not volume) of Inspired Unique Content. It must have interaction and encourage engagement.
Your social media strategy must also work to identify the ‘Secret Sauce’ for your company and when found – use it to create your own viral success.