Social media is not just about selling

by Simon Bream for Imaginet

The more one reads about social media and social networking the more one comes across wide eyed expectations of the power of the medium to sell. Old ways of thinking die very hard and it is this older focus on sales and aggressive marketing that is way out of sync with the ethos developing in social networking.

In the first place social networking is about communication, which is a term that certainly needs a lot of unpacking. A few books would not suffice to explain this many faceted topic. For the purposes of discussion we can think of communication in relation to terms such as sharing, interaction, trend identification and learning. These are elements germane to social networking that are largely missing from the more conventional modes of thinking. Communicating with your audience or client does not mean just telling them what to buy or like. That is objectivistic and one dimensional interaction. In a modern and social media context, communications means interaction and most of all listening to your audience rather than telling them what to think or do. It is a process of building  trust and understanding.

Who still gives any real credence to formal advertising? Sure, the images and memes seep into our daily conscious lives but there is an increasingly negative reaction to advertising that tells us what to do and think. Nowadays we listen to our friends and take advice from known and accredited reviews and sources. Few People buy a new computer on the basis of the seller’s hype alone. One rather reads an accredited source before purchasing. This is where social networking becomes an active force in the marketplace.

Here’s a prediction that is echoed in many articles and reports lately and which seems ever closer to reality; for those who are still stuck in the old, aggressive marketing and client mindset beware, your audience is moving beyond linear and one-sided  thinking. In a year or so, as social media matures and the mobile market expands, those who will grow are those who have developed a social networking trustworthiness and brand name.

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