How Social Media Works

The other night, I realized that someone I was aware of via Social Media was going to be at an event I had planned to attend, so I sent her a “Friends Request”.

The last I had paid attention to her online presence, she was living in California, so I figured this was my opportunity to meet her and tell her I enjoyed her work (on-air talent / hostess / reporter) before she flew away again.

So I’m at this event, and someone I don’t recognize walks up to me and says “Hi. You friended me today! :D”. Looking more closely, I realized who she was, greeted her and we started chatting.

Come to find out that a) she’s moved here to NYC, and b) I thought she was “only” on-air talent, but she’s actually a producer, a complimentary position to mine as a video editor.

Her Side

So, what happened here?… Because she was doing what she does naturally, I became aware of her as online talent and someone who’s connected, however vaguely, to what I do as a hobby as well as for work. Personally, I like to give credit where credit’s due, and I’m actually a FAN of very many of my friends who do what we do. So, I was glad to meet her AT ALL. Next, she had a friendly disposition. There are lots of people who are good in front of the camera and horrible in f2f conversation. Third, she was now a New Yorker, which is like when a player gets traded to your home team… you’re suddenly MORE INTERESTED in her career, etc. Fourth, I find out that professionally, we’re in the same field as well as having mutual friends via Social Media that can vouch for her professional talents (or lack thereof!) as well as what kind of person she is, socially.

Therefore, having chatted with her in person for approximately 20 minutes on one day out of my entire life.. Combining that with her “online resume” and the relationships / social capital she’s built via Social Media gives me a very well rounded concept of who she is, what she’s about and where I can immediately get more information if I need it. All of a sudden, I’m much more likely to recommend her to someone who’s looking for a producer on a project. So, while she hasn’t directly monetized her Social Media, meaning I didn’t click on any ads on her site and I didn’t buy any goods or services from her, she’s converted her social capital into professional recognition plus a positive social experience.

My Side

Looking at it from the other angle… Because I’m interested in online video, I became aware of her and a fan of hers. Because I socialize via SM, I found out that she was on the list for a party I was planning to attend, so I “Friended” her. Without those two, I would have been at the same party with her, but wouldn’t have met her. Generally, when I go to crowded events, there are lots of women I don’t meet. There are actually lots of women I don’t even SEE, because I probably know between 20-60 people in that location and never stop interacting with them.

From my conversation with her, I found out even more things I have in common with her socially and professionally, so I also achieved what I’ll call an accidental conversion. I didn’t go to the party to meet a producer that might need an editor for projects, but that’s what happened. I didn’t give her a business card, but I didn’t need to because we’re already connected via Social Media. I don’t carry cards anyway. If people don’t know how to Google “Bill”, I really can’t see what kind of business relationship we could possibly have. 😀

Your Side

This is why I was saying I’m a special case when it comes to this. What I do is NECESSARY in the realm of Social Media. People have to make videos. People have to record audio. People have to blog. People have to make connections with other people. Everything they need to do, I do every day, in a quality fashion. My conversion occurs when someone decides to hire me to do what they don’t want to do or can’t do as well as I can. If you don’t know how your conversion occurs, there might not BE one.

SM is for communicating, listening, learning and sharing. Unless you get paid for one of those things, you probably won’t make money directly FROM Social Media. There are lots of people that make money by teaching other people how to use SM or by using the knowledge they already have to become the Media Department for several clients, but that’s the same process I’ve already described.. using SM to demonstrate your proficiencies in SM and attracting people who would rather pay you to do something right that it’ll take them much longer to do as well as doing a much poorer job, making their business look low-budget, thus attracting fewer customers and having their corner-cutting directly affect their bottom line.

Businesses use the search capabilities to find instances of people talking about their brands or products. They make communities or groups or pages so that people can have somewhere to find out about current events or promotions they’re offering. Some of them hire ghost-writers to be their internet presence for them. Any way you look at it, Social Media is a MEANS and not an END. Amassing an audience is only the first part. It’s like booking a theater and advertising your play. If nobody cares about your production, you won’t sell any tickets. If you sell some tickets and your production is garbage, word of mouth will work AGAINST you instead of FOR you. If you add everyone in creation and then you don’t have anything to say that’s useful to them or informs them of why they should use your company for something instead of the myriad others that provide the same services, you’re not going to see much return for the time, energy and money you spent setting up your network.

Social Media is basically a light that you can shine on yourself. It’s where the game STARTS, not where it ends and you get to relax and watch the profits roll in. It’s your opportunity to reach a global audience or a local audience that might be looking for a company that does what you do. Before you shine that light, you want to figure out what your endgame is, what you’re offering and how you’re going to express that to people without shilling and making yourself a pariah.

Your primary opportunity here exists in socialization… getting to know people and letting them know things about you so they can make educated decisions about whether they’d like to include you in their social or business plans. This is why it’s called SOCIAL Media.

If it had been about everyone trading commercials about themselves and amassing a bunch of people you can sell stuff to and make money, then it would have been called BUSINESS Media… and personally, I wouldn’t even be involved.

~ Bill Cammack | @BillCammack

3 thoughts on “How Social Media Works”

  1. Wow. I’ve rarely read a more concise or common sense summary of how and why social media works and what its appropriate uses are. And the real-life example brings it all into sharp focus.

    1. Thanks, Joe 😀

      It’s really the best of both worlds.. You can find people that you enjoy that also happen to have the same interests/hobbies/professions as you do. The people that utilize Social Media merely to make business contacts that they can attempt to hawk products to are missing out on way more than half of the value and just about ALL of the fun of it! 😉

      Annie, Patty, Joe, Roxanne & Christine

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