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Be Social, Don’t Do Social: Social Media Platforms as Mediums for Human Connection, Community and Communication

Published on June 24, 2014

IMAG7838A lesson in effective social media use and brand exposure…. from a butcher.

It was my first time in the new butcher shop in my neighbourhood so the owner gave me the grand tour, detailing their pretty awesome philosophy and products. I was duly impressed, but then he pulled the ace in his sleeve and won me entirely; he drew my attention to their informative presence on Facebook and Twitter, and on Instagram where they and their customers share recipes and images of cooking victories. Then he told me that customers can pre-order by Facebook or text message, got my telephone number and texted me right on the spot.

Here was an Old World butcher with sophisticated modern business savvy.

So, Where’s the Beef?

A number of recent studies including the May 2011 study published by the Harvard Business Review found that only 11% of businesses are effectively using social media as a tactic within their larger marketing strategy. Reasons given for this include:

  • Executive ignorance about social media
  • A focus on immediate ROI results instead of slower but stronger growth

I would add to this list the failure to recognize that social media platforms are a way to make meaningful connections and engage in meaningful dialogue with current and potential customers. 

The way consumers and businesses communicate has changed, period. Advertising is no longer an indiscriminant bombardment of potential customers, and customer feedback no longer takes place solely in private correspondence. Public social media platforms give consumers a broader scope of influence, but they also open up new spaces for communication and new ways for businesses to offer responsive customer service.

Engaging intelligently in this dialogue can be enormously beneficial to your business in terms of:

  • Building a reputation of transparency, credibility and authenticity
  • Increasing brand exposure
  • Building brand loyalty through responsiveness
  • Providing loyal customers with an easy way to recommend you to their own social networks (electronic word of mouth!)

A “place” where “we” meet

Of course, social media platforms are a medium and a tool, not a miracle magnet. Even when intelligently utilized, they are only as attractive as the business using them. If it is loyalty and growth you want, be flawless and authentic first.

The owners of the butcher shop use neon pink and green markers to write me (yes me, the consumer “I”) friendly, informative notes directly on the shop’s window glass, adding whimsical drawings of chickens and mooing cows in this neighborhood of families with small children. As I was leaving, the owner greeted another customer by name and asked about her recent vacation.

What this butcher understands is the value of making human connections with your customers, and it was clearly expressed in the ways they are choosing to use social media. It is in making social media pages a “place” where “we” meet, that this business owner has, indirectly but most powerfully, branded themselves and utilized popular social media platforms as effective marketing tools.

THAT is the essence of being social rather than doing social.

So, for the first time since I was a child, I have a neighbourhood butcher.

And I have not even tried their meat yet.

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