Social Media Begins with Listening, Not Branding

Warning: bit of a rant.

I just opened my weekly email from Biznik, letting me know about business events in my neck of the woods, and was confronted with this:


What’s the problem with this?  Well, for one the use of “Any social media expert” kind of baffles me — since they are few and far between.  By I digress.  The problem with this approach is that it puts branding and SEO at the fore and in focus, completely confusing how people need to come into social media if they want to be engaging, successful, learn, and teach.  I hate to use the dreaded buzzword, but “authenticity” comes from doing a whole lot of listening and conversing first – and THEN figuring out how your brand, SEO strategy, etc. fit with social media.

I’m not saying this because I’m some social media bleeding heart who thinks it’s more about the conversation than the bottom line – yes using social media is a business activity and fundamentally about making money.  However, you are never going to sell me something if you turn me off like the myriad “social media experts” who follow me on Twitter each day masked as PR professionals, real estate agents, mortgage brokers or (worst!) motivational speakers and coaches.  The insincerity of it all makes me sick.

I don’t know Steve MacDonald, and I imagine for those who are new to social media they will come out of this session with some things to do and will learn quickly from the community (if they are open) if their approach is too much talking and not enough listening.  This makes me think even more about how to make sure we have the right focus at my talk next weekend, alongside An Bui, where we will address women in business and teach them about Twitter.

I’ve got a flight back to Seattle, so we’ll leave this to be continued… check back later this week as I work on developing the talk and look for your input.   Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll see you there!

One Comment

  • An Bui

    Danielle, great to know that you’re listening to my feedback because our talk will totally rock. Why? Because we’ll focus on listening, paying attention, and integrating those learnings into interactions.

    Branding isn’t unimportant – knowing who you are/what you offer is important and helps you be clear about what you can and cannot offer to others. Starting with good questions is as important as starting with good intent.

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