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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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4 responses to “Social is as social does”

  1. Sometimes the simple is so obvious we just miss it. Thanks for the reminder Christopher.

  2. Eric D Townsend Avatar
    Eric D Townsend

    I’ve been reiterating this point about just simply being a human online. It’s the best practice. Thanks, Christopher. I just shared on my twitter account.

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