Brian Solis needs no introduction if you follow what is going on in social media marketing and new marketing and customer behavior trends. Earlier this year, Brian published his latest book Engage! which aims to “help businesses build, cultivate and measure success in the new Web”.
In this interview, Brian shares his thoughts on the social evolutions, the role of content and the importance of listening and taking action to engage and interact.
First, I shared a thought with Brian and wanted to know what his reaction was. This was the thought: “social networks are merely a technological extension of our human nature to connect, be part of something and communicate, and ultimately people are the social networks”.
Brian: “social networks are hubs for the contextual connection of people around ideas, interests, and passions. But at the same time, while social networks serve as the enabling technology to communicate, the relationships that people forge within these networks are more reminiscent of relations rather than relationships”.
The creation of a human network, a grid of relationships
He continued: “These short-form engagements actually strengthen connections with each exchange. And it’s the act of causing or earning responses that seduces users toward a bottomless cycle of acting and inciting reactions”.
For Brian, people seem to be key in social networking, which was clearly reflected when he said that “over time, what’s truly fascinating about social networking, is the creation of a human network, a grid of relationships that link social graphs from network to network. One day soon, we’ll have the ability to effectively engage and interact with our contacts from one dashboard across multiple networks”. Looks like cross-channel.
One-way communication is an oxymoron
Next I asked another question to Brian that (shortened) boils down to this: “The days of broadcasting are over in marketing communication. I never understood the one-way communication mentality in businesses. Why do you think it has taken businesses so long to understand that it’s about relationships, according to you? Good sales people always understood… And has this mentality really changed?”
Brian agreed, saying that “one-way communication is an oxymoron’.
“However”, he continued, “some businesses believe that when they speak at audiences and markets that they are communicating. Others believe that one-to-many transmissions offered some semblance of control and falsely assumed or underestimated that any potential dissent would rarely earn the public spotlight”.
You already know it: speaking is not enough, listening is also key but listening is not enough either.
Brian: “Now with the socialization of media and the rise of new influencers, prominence is earned through not only listening, but established through attentiveness and the corresponding actions that inspire connection and adaptation”.
Content and the findability of the value proposition
Finally, I asked Brian, what, according to him, is the role of content in social media marketing?
Brian: “content speaks to the mission and purpose of a business optimized for the framework of the medium and always with the unique and varying audiences in mind. Content is critical towards establishing an effective inbound marketing initiative as it represents the brand when the brand representative is not present. Strategically placing content in the networks where stakeholders, customers, and prospects are actively seeking information amplifies the findability of our value proposition, differentiation, and intentions. This is why possessing a genuine understanding of the wants, needs, challenges, and options of our markets and also where, when, and how they seek direction proves effectual”.
Brian also looked at content from the social media optimization (SMO) viewpoint: “when combined with SMO, our content rises to the top of keyword searches within social networks, addressing the specific needs of consumers based on how and where they search”.
Brian concludes: “Content is easy to commoditize. Meaningful content rooted in empathy and value is precious and as such, dramatically increases the promise of connecting to those they’re intended to affect”.
(Images: Brian’s Flickr page)