Social is as social does

Amidst all the chatter about new social networks and how brands should be interacting with audiences, a simple lesson has been missed, one courtesy of Forrest Gump.


The fictional character’s famous quote, stupid is as stupid does, is one equally applicable to social media: social is as social does.

When marketing managers and directors are looking at numbers, charts, KPIs, and metrics about things like social media engagement, interactions per hour, new followers, etc. and wondering why social media isn’t delivering its fabled results, the answer can usually be found in that aphorism. Social is as social does.

Take a look at this simple chart of a national brand and how many questions on their Facebook Page they don’t answer, as well as the response time:


Social is as social does. If you’re taking half a day to answer fans’ questions, and answering 1 out of every 6 questions, then don’t be surprised when your social media engagement metrics are in the toilet, when your audience stops talking to you, when people give up because you don’t interact with them.

Being social means doing the basics of human civility, the sort of thing that you tell a four year old.

Say hello and goodbye to people.
Answer questions when you’re asked.
Talk about the other person more than you talk about yourself.
Don’t interrupt other people talking.
You have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.
Be polite.

When marketers say that social is all about “being human”, that’s what we’re talking about: accomplishing the basics of being a functional human being. It’s not magic. It is effort.

The next time you’re looking at your social media marketing metrics and you’re not happy with the results, ask yourself if you’re being as social as your audience wants you to be.

Social is as social does.

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Social media analytics and accountability at SMB36

I had the opportunity recently to speak at Social Media Breakfast Boston 36 about social media analytics, accountability, and measurement, using apple pie as an analogy:

Special thanks to Bob Collins and Social Media Breakfast for having me!

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The business of building social media rockstars

One of the most common problems organizations face is the social media rockstar. Now, you may say, hold on there – a social media rockstar is a good thing! It gets our brand visibility, it gets conversation going, it gives a public face to the organization. All of these are good things, important things, but the problem isn’t the person. The problem is the structure. A social media rockstar by default is a single point of failure, a shatter point that, if it breaks for any reason, breaks a whole bunch of things.

The most common problem is that your rockstar leaves and represents another organization, potentially even a competitor in places where non-compete agreements are unenforceable. It’s not just leaving, though – lots of different, complex, difficult situations can arise where you lose a visible personality in an organization.

So how do you deal with this situation? Some organizations just bury their heads in the sand and make blanket decrees that employees shouldn’t go out and be rockstars. I’d like to think that the ideal solution is one that’s an actual employee benefit: increase the number of rockstars you have until you have a full bench. Rather than just a star quarterback, have a star team.

Be in the business of building rockstars.

There are countless recipes for building the social media authority of individuals. The simplest, lowest overhead recipe that works is what I call the rule of 5.

Find 5 things a day to share, only 1 of which should be related to your company, and suggest that employees share those things. You can do this with a variety of tools; one of the easiest is Buffer, which not only lets you schedule social media updates across social networks but also gives you relevant suggestions for content.


Find 5 people a day to follow, ideally in the topic area that your company is a part of, on each social network. Tools like Klout are a decent starting place for the individual employee to work with, particularly if they are not super socially savvy.

Read 5 relevant articles, blog posts, or news items a day that increase your knowledge of your space and industry, whether or not you share them, so that when you do engage in social conversations with other people, you’re well-read and well-informed.

That’s it. That’s the simple recipe to teach to employees to get them started on an upward social media trajectory. Start to finish, it will probably take between 30 and 60 minutes a day; you can make the process more efficient by curating recommendations for your employees in all three categories so that they don’t have to do the digging themselves. If you provided all of the data above to employees, the process could take as little as 15 minutes a day.

Build up your staff to grow as many rockstars as possible!

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