1) Social Media is one giant party.
Let's set the stage.
Imagine the social web as one huge cocktail party. In one corner of the room, a group of moms are talking about education and parenting issues. In another corner of the room, a group of recent college grads laugh over Will Ferrell's latest movie. Different groups of people are enjoying themselves, sharing stories, discussing current events, pop culture, trends, etc. All the groups are mingling, making new "friends," and the most influential people in the room have the most "followers" hanging on their every word.
Social Media is a true reflection of society today -- and what better representation of social behavior, fragmentation, hierarchy and influence than a giant party?
2) Lead with "people stories," not "product stories."
Marketing has taught us to always lead with our "product story": distilling our message down to a "unique selling proposition" and driving it home with features and benefits. If you only have 30 seconds to sell your product using a canned message, "showing" and "selling" can be effective. If you walk into that party and the first thing you do is try to sell your product, don't expect an invite back.
To become the life of the party you can't lead with product stories; you need to lead with people stories. Enter the conversation on their terms. Start a dialogue with something that is important to them, not what's important to you. People need to like you first; then they'll ask what you do for a living.
This means it's critical to have the right "opening line" -- a way to enter the conversation that starts with the consumer's agenda but can seamlessly migrate to your agenda.
3) Use content to make connections.
The right story, joke or anecdote at a party goes a long way, and social media is no different. If those moms are talking about parenting issues, turn them onto a parenting expert who can help with their problems. If those grads are laughing over Will Ferrell's latest movie, recommend another movie for them to see.
The right content will allow you to make instant connections. Think of your fellow party-goers as audiences rather than consumers. Like a publisher, you need to help or entertain first; showing or selling comes later.
4) Embrace fragmentation.
Just like a party, social media is made up of many interest groups; you can't use the same opening line with moms that you used with those college grads.
You may need a few different "opening lines" if you are going after different audiences. "Work the room" by breaking your audience into segments. Naturally adjust your talking points based on who you are speaking with. If you are interesting, relevant and sociable, people will remember you and be willing to learn more about you (and your products).
5) Leverage the influencer.
Have you ever walked into a party where you didn't know anyone? It's not impossible to meet people, but you certainly have to work hard at it.
What if you walk into the party with the most popular kid in school? You get instant credibility, everyone in the room knows who you are and talking to them becomes that much easier.
Simply put, leveraging the right influencers makes you "cool by association." You don't have to work as hard meeting people, you get to talk about yourself more and instead of trying to figure how to start a conversation with people, they will talk to you.
6) Engagement trumps impressions.
Brands are obsessed with impressions. For them, it's always been about reach and frequency. Social media, however, is about engagement, not impressions.
If you walked into a party and just stood against the back wall, people might "see" you standing there. You may even make eye-contact with a few of those moms you so desperately want to talk to -- but what good will that do?
The Social Media Party is not about making eye-contact (impressions); it's about shaking hands (engagements). It's about meeting people, talking to them, sharing with them -- it's about engaging with them and participating in the conversation.