Different countries make transactions with different types of currency. Social media has its own kind of currency: influence. Influence is the currency that drives the relationships between your brand and consumers. It is important to break down influence, because there are many different viewpoints on its meaning. Some people will tell you that influence within the social media realm is all about how many Twitter followers or Facebook friends you have, or how many people take advantage of your latest deal. Followers and friends mean nothing if that is the only action they take, and most of the time it will be unless there is a connection there. Deal seekers are only after one thing, a good deal. If a relationship or connection aside from that does not exist, then your deal is just a bribe that prompts a one-time action. So how do you move beyond this and build a lasting relationship and connection with your audience? By knowing your audience and paying attention to what is important to them. Shane Barnhill and GianCarlo Pitocco do a great job of setting guidelines for doing exactly that. It may seem like they are talking about different things but they are more similar than you would think. Barnhill talks about the “4 Overlooked Nuances of Social Media Culture” http://bit.ly/kKJcRA. The first is to “never profit from a real-life crisis.” We all saw what happened when Groupon tried to tie itself to the crisis in Tibet. No human suffering of any kind should ever be used as a stepping stone to profit. Similar to this is the third point that Pitocco makes in “How We Can Use Facebook To Target With Precision” http://bit.ly/lJzP6c. His third point is that complainers should not be ignored because if they feel they are not heard then they can easily launch a smear campaign by sharing their disgust with their friends or followers. Basically the similarity here is that the importance of human suffering, any kind that relates to your brand, should not be ignored because the backlash will always be negative.
Barnhill’s second point is “help more than you sell.” Social media is about building connections through content creation, sharing, customer service and ongoing conversation. Sales pushes should be fewer in ratio to these. Pitocco’s third point relates to this as well as his second point about engaging teens outside of Facebook so that they will intensify the experience with friends on Facebook. Basically, social media is more about engaging consumers through meaningful content and interaction. Frequent targeting through sales pushes is a turnoff and should not become the focus. Barnhill’s third point is “never stunt innovation.” In other words, trash talking others in an attempt to shut them down only makes you look bad in the end. It takes a certain amount of tact and relevance to preserve a relationship and that is not done through trash talking. How it is done is through connecting with your consumers through relevant content and Pitocco’s first point about “collaborating with an entertainment partner to create relevant content” is an example of this. Focus on the consumer and their interests, not on bringing others down. Bringing others down does not strengthen appeal in competitions and it will not do that here either. Barnhill’s fourth point is that humor and humility is a winning combination. Although Pitocco does not have a point that directly relates to this I think it is safe to say that handling any situation with humor and humility will win more followers than enemies. At the end, Barnhill states that social media is about knowing your culture and Pitocco agrees at the end by restating the importance of knowing your target audience. With influence being such a key metric to success with social media, these guidelines are not to be taken lightly. Rather they should influence your social media actions because through influencing these actions you are building influence with your consumers. More influence equals more action and more action equals more long-lasting relationships with consumers and a better brand experience. The ultimate goal and its solution, and influence is the currency that makes it all possible.