Social Media’s Magic Ingredient

social media's magic ingredient A client of mine was “grumbling” the other day about social media. She said, “I know I SHOULD be using Facebook and LinkedIn – but I just can’t BRING myself to do it.”

For her – the prospect of social media is “no fun” – even though in real life, she’s a very social person. It seems she hasn’t made the connection yet – that behind the screen icons there are real people.

She’s buying into the notion that social networking is about racking up numbers beside your name. She thinks that in order to use social media “successfully” she needs 30K Twitter followers and 5000 friends on Facebook.

To her, participating in social media is about as appealing as putting on a sequined tube top and a shiny mini skirt – donning hooker heels and heading to the streets to shake her money maker and “sell” her stuff. She hasn’t discovered yet the true secret ingredient of social media:

Social Media’s Magical Ingredient is PEOPLE!

Vered said it BEST in Value of Social Networking:

if you have formed real connections with a handful of people through social networking, you are using this tool correctly. But if you have thousands of followers, who are at best a collection of meaningless faces and broken sentences, and often place an overwhelming demand on your time, you are simply allowing fake networking to seduce you. There’s absolutely no value in that, business or personal.

There are PEOPLE behind each screen name. People with families. People with jobs 0r who need jobs. People with wants. People with needs. People who -by nature – want to be connected and feel connected.

It’s this NEED to be connected that is driving the whole social media frenzy.

However, that fact seems to be getting lost in the hoopla.

It’s positively MIND BLOWING how many different social networking sites there are online today. I was surprised when I saw Brian Chappell’s exceptional work on compiling the 2009 Social Network Analysis Report. There were several “big” social networking sites on the list that I didn’t recognize. One of those sites is Badoo. Acording to Wikipedia,

“Badoo is a multi-lingual, London based, social networking website. It allows users to share photos and videos, create “reportages” of their lives, and promote themselves and their work.”

With 41 MILLION registered users – if Badoo were a country – they’d be the 29th most populated country in the world, following South Africa and coming in ahead of Columbia. It’s kind of a big site to overlook… but I’m not the only US citizen overlooking Badoo. However, residents of Morocco, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are getting connected socially online thanks to Badoo.

Brian’s post illustrates how the growth of social networking sites are “clustered” geographically…. just like the growth maps for other social networking sites. If you stop to think about it – it makes PERFECT sense. Real life connections are mirrored in these online connections – and real life connections are often based on either DNA or geography. It makes sense that digital connections would follow similar paths.

In, The Myth of Brand Loyalty, Chris Brogan writes of his disappointment with Apple – because they sent him an email marketing piece hyping the latest Macbook – which Chris has recently purchased. OUCH!!! So much for the “illusion” that when you buy a Mac – you’re a part of a “family”. No, you’re a spec on a spreadsheet – not even a decimal point – and don’t you forget it!

When you’re a Mac fan – you connect with other Mac and Apple fans. However, Chris learned that while he may share a bond with other Mac users – he doesn’t have a relationship with Apple. Perhaps he may have a relationship with the employees at a local Apple store… but as for the company named for a piece of fruit – not so much.

Part of participating in social media is connecting with PEOPLE. Connection is what your customers crave!

Despite what you may have been told by the latest guru selling his latest “social media makes your cash register ring” ebook – it’s the whole ability to CONNECT and LISTEN.

I can’t even write the word “listen” without thinking of Liz Strauss over at the Successful Blog… how’s THAT for an example of “branding” and making a “connection?


When people think of “X” – they think of you. You can’t achieve that in a single blog post – and you most certainly can’t achieve that via junk mail.

If there’s nothing else to be learned from Micheal Jackson’s tragic life and death – it’s that fans are no substitute for real relationships and real connections.


  1. Oh my, I love your ending paragraph. I haven’t thought about it, but it’s true – his death shows that millions and millions of fans are meaningless, because they don’t really care about YOU – they’re after an illusion, an image.

    Thank you Kathy for the link love!
    .-= Vered – Blogger for Hire´s last blog ..Value of Social Networking =-.

  2. Wow, I totally agree with you, Vered – this entire article moved me, but the last paragraph nailed it. And Kathy, your point about the need for social connection being a NORMAL human need that is driving all of this – YES . . . perhaps what your client is resisting is that social networking doesn’t FEEL like a real connection to her. So it feels like a chore. And whether we are social online or not, we’ve all had more than enough of “fake” connections and feeling like a number . . .
    .-= Carol | Stress Eating´s last blog ..Stress Eating and Hormones =-.

  3. Vered- the link luv was WELL deserved my dear. You nailed it!

    Carol – you’re so right – no one is looking for more “clutter” in their life – especially relationship and emotional clutter. Then again – that’s YOUR area of expertise now – isn’t it? 🙂

  4. This certainly struck a chord with me. When facebook etc are all about collections of ‘friends’ its hard to know how the real connections are made.
    .-= Amelia Vargo´s last blog ..Search Engine Optimisation Tutorial (SEO) – Duplicate Content / Copyscape =-.

  5. The real connections are made on Facebook the same way they’re made “in real life”…. you begin with casual comments. Someone’s update appears in your stream – and you comment. They reply and it goes from there. If it’s an OLD connection – like high school or college – the process moves faster because you have a “foundation”. (For some reason, my college buddies haven’t discovered Facebook yet. Maybe they’re still hanging out the bars with the same frequency as when I last saw them.)

    However, just like in real life – relationship building is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer you “drop” your guard until you discover if there’s something “authentic” there.

  6. I view social media to be about building up trust and connections that overall, help one improve one’s goals (be they socializing, networking, business, laughter, etc.).

    I find those “Get a bazillion Twitter Follower!” tools to be laughable in the extreme – unless you become a real person to those who are following you, you’ll never realize the benefit Social media can offer.

    It’s just like a Real Time Usenet! (arcane reference for those who like Internet history…. 🙂 ).
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..The Ultimate, MUST HAVE Tip For Your Website =-.

  7. “unless you become a real person to those who are following you, you’ll never realize the benefit Social media can offer.”

    A hearty AMEN Barbara!!! I am guilted into opening Tweetdeck now! 🙂

  8. Hi Kathy,

    I think many people think social networking is about acquiring “numbers” and forgetting there are people behind those numbers. When I first got into social networking it was on StumbleUpon. Because I didn’t really know how to use it, I networked very little, When Twitter came along, I didn’t “get it” either. Time has changed that and now that I’m feeling more comfortable with Twitter, I find myself looking for who’s on and what they’re saying. Sometime I’ll jump in, other times I just lurk. Although at first I thought the goal was to have a lot of followers, I’ve since learned the numbers don’t make a difference (to me).

    I have found the combination of reading other blogs as well as communicating on social networking sites gives us the opportunity to get to know others better and build what becomes a true online community.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Looking Into The Future =-.

  9. I agree that numbers don’t mean much. I’m just starting to develop a small group of connected people dedicated to mutual support. I’ll take quality over quantity any time. To follow Kathy’s analogy, you don’t connect with everyone at the concert you’re attending; you talk to a few people around you, find connections. Sometimes you keep the connection going, sometimes not. What”s fun is finding like-minded people who we enjoy being with.
    .-= Jean´s last blog ..The Biggest Problem in Small Business Startup =-.

  10. Jean – you make a good point – sometimes you find enough there to keep the connection going – but in order to FIND OUT if there’s “enough there” you must first “connect”. So many people are determined to get tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and thousands of “connections” on LinkedIn that the connection are worthless. These people want fans which is what prompted me to write What Michael Jackson can teach business about social media.

  11. The list of social media sites are growing by the day, I’ll stick with facebook 🙂


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