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Social Networking: It’s About People, Not Technology

Business Building Ideas From Terry L. Brock

The trend of social networking (or social media, if you prefer) is not about the technology of  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other networks. Yes, the technology is nice and has a lot of possibilities.

Relationship Marketing is about people connecting with people at certain levels to satisfy their needs for business and personal life. It is not about pushing stuff out to people. That’s the old way.

Social Networking is all about Relationship Marketing, or what I call R-Commerce. For over a decade I’ve said it is NOT about E-Commerce (the Electronics); It’s about R-Commerce (the Relationships). Social Networking is about connecting with people on a real level and helping them. As you help them and hear from them you do more for yourself.

Marketing is different today than before. In the old days, push marketing was the key to getting your message out to others. I remember reading magazines like Ad Age and other great marketing tools and various ads would encourage readers to Buy Chicago or Buy Dallas. By this, they meant to purchase time on their TV station, buy space in their magazine or newspapers, etc. The idea was to take your products and services and push the idea of people buying into that market and own the market.

Things are different today.

If you are too pushy (used colloquially as a negative term now) you get rejected. I’ve talked about people in this column who were way too pushy and therefore lost respect and business. Instead of being pushy or even using a lot of pull, you have to interact.

This is a different concept. Interaction means that we recognize how we are all interdependent in today’s world. No one can make it alone. You have to work with and through others to achieve your goals. Social Networking is a matter of finding out how others are feeling and where they are experiencing pain. You listen to their needs and find a way you can assist them. This is how success is achieved.

Here’s a story that illustrates how businesses must work with; not against; their customers that supports this. A while back a singer named Dave Carroll from Halifax flew United Airlines for a tour with his band. They flew from Halifax to Chicago and then on to Nebraska.  While on the ground in Chicago OHare (a United hub) a passenger saw the way baggage handlers were dealing with luggage and commented about the treatment. One of those cases happened to be Dave’s and, sure enough, when he got to his destination in Nebraska, he discovered that United had broken his guitar.


Dave contacted United and for over a year tried to get resolution but United Airlines continued to say the easy No., ” I’m not familiar with the particulars of the situation and can’t cast blame on anyone, including United.”  However, what happened and how Social Media was involved affects you and me.

Dave wrote a funny song about the incident and posted it on YouTube which you can see at: It is hilarious and instructive for you and me in our business.

In the past, Dave would have just had to suck it up and go on. Today, Dave, and people like him, have a vehicle where they can express displeasure to millions. As I write this, over 4.4 million people have viewed that video! In an update I see that United has made some attempts to resolve the situation. Gee, I wonder if they would have done something if there were no YouTube? Watch the video and I’ll let you decide.

My point is even bigger than what Dave Carroll has gone through. Think about your own business. Are customers satisfied with what you do? Would you like a video of your business along the lines of the United Breaks Guitars video?

Today, it is all about interaction, not push and not even pull. Listen to what others are saying and then provide that for them. It is not about all the fancy technology. It is about connecting with people, real, oxygen-breathing, blood pumping customers! Who buy your products and services.

Of course, this is good old Marketing as it is supposed to happen. When I was in business school studying Marketing, we called this being customer focused.

Whatever form of Social Networking or Social Media you use, this has to be your focus. Don’t tell me just how great you are. Don’t tell me about the new way to earn money on Twitter. Identify key areas (do the keyword research for your industry) and find where people are hurting. Then craft unique, helpful tools for them. There’s no magic here and nothing new, but this is the way to succeed.

I hope United Airlines and other companies can adjust accordingly. Can you and I?

Copyright © 2009, Terry Brock and Achievement Systems, Inc. Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and professional speaker who helps businesses generate profitable results. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or through his website at Join the Twitter adventure with Terry through his Twitter address: TerryBrock.

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