Social Media Isn’t Soylent Green. It’s the Truth

There are a lot of social media gurus out there: some of whom I like; others that I can do without. It can be tricky for the social media neophyte to know where to turn when it comes to searching for advice.

I’m not here to recommend anyone. Nor am I going to even suggest that I am the be all and end all, but I can offer one simple suggestion: Embrace truth.

OK, I admit, that sounds like something Wham! would have worn on a day-glo T-shirt back in the day and some may think it’s simplistic, but I can say with full conviction that the best way to connect with an audience and to get your message out is the truth.

Conversely, the easiest way to turn off customers is to fake it. Today’s social media consumers are savvy and they can smell it.

Unfortunately, today’s social media is yesterday’s SEO. There are lots of people out there trying to sell you the magic formula. There are some good people out there who get it and there are some shysters who are trying to sell tricks and short cuts.

It’s hard to know whom to take seriously. I recently read an article that tried, in a cutesy way, to reduce social media to a recipe. The author made the unfortunate decision to say that the main ingredient is people, which has left me with the not-so-pleasant thought that social media is the new Soylent Green! Where is Charlton Heston when we need him?

It can be hard for businesses to take social media seriously if you dress it up too much, make it too cutesy and kitschy, or oversimplify it. Already, the whole concept of a proper Facebook or Twitter presence goes against everything the traditional businessman or woman has grown up believing. Honesty, transparency, and interpersonal interaction are not exactly hallmarks of the Harvard Business School’s teachings, yet that’s what today’s consumer is demanding. And the temptation to over-market and push product on a social network is always going to be there.

It’s not so much the “what’s” that businesses are questioning. Most appreciate – if not fully understand – the value of social media. The question they have is how do they apply it to their own businesses?

Not all companies can be warm and fuzzy; not every business can be cutesy or funky. But all can be honest.

And that’s what social media is at its very heart: truth. From people connecting with each other, sharing the real moments of their lives and their experiences, to businesses sharing their knowledge and experience with people interested in their brands, it’s all built upon a foundation of honesty.

There’s no secret recipe and there are no tricks. In fact, trying to turn social networking into some sort of alchemy is only going to see it blow up in your face.

Many consumers are already social-media savvy; the next generation is just going to be scary. They’ve grown up sharing (and some would say over-sharing) their entire lives on the Internet; they’re not merely intrigued by corporations interacting with them – they fully expect it as part of the normal part of doing business.

It can be a scary time for businesses, but it’s also a great opportunity as long as they remember that there’s no secret ingredient, no mystery key, or magic incantation that’s going to ensure success. To succeed, businesses only have to remember to be true to themselves and their customers.

That’s the honest truth.

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