What Makes Media Social?

social mediaGuest Post from Mike Smith

Like a few million other people out there, I went to see the Academy Award Nominated film, The Social Network. As someone who works with social media, I had more than a passing interest in the film (plus, I’m just a sucker for a good movie).

While the evolution of the concept for Facebook, and all the legal jockeying for this multi-billion dollar idea were interesting, there was something else that I found even more fascinating. What struck me above everything else was that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (at least as he’s portrayed in the movie) is not a particularly social person.

That Zuckerberg is bright, driven, and capable is beyond question. But I came away from the film more than a bit underwhelmed with his social skills. He just doesn’t seem to like people. It’s not that he dislikes them—he just doesn’t seem to care about them one way or the other. So what difference does that make?

I think it’s evident in the way Facebook approaches their audience. There is no doubting their success. They are huge and continuing to grow. They are obviously doing something (a lot of things?) right. But I get the sense that the folks at Facebook just aren’t all that focused on people. They’re focused on the tool. It appears that they set things up so that the tool will work the way they want it to work—rather than the way their users want it to.

I hear friends and business colleagues complain on a regular basis about how Facebook makes changes that frustrate them and make it more difficult to use the site the way they want to use it. Changes are made that are supposed to enhance the functionality of this social tool—but they don’t enhance the social experience.

So what has this got to do with marketing? Good marketing has always been a predominantly social event. It’s the bringing together of people with wants and needs and the goods and services that can meet those wants and needs. Today, more than ever, that social element needs to be cultivated. As the business world moves deeper and deeper into online, social media methods for connecting with their potential customers, they need to make sure they are enhancing the social experience for their customers—and not just using a new tool to force information on them. That means listening to customers and giving them information in the way they want to receive it.

How are your social media interactions? Are they truly social, or are they focused on the tools of the trade and on your agenda?

(And by the way . . . what did you think of the movie?)