I think PR people have a very distorted social media experience. Take Facebook, for example. If you’re like me, you’ve “liked” a whole bunch of pages that don’t really interest you, but you need to follow for your clients. Over the years, your Facebook experience has morphed into a hodgepodge of people/pages you want to follow and people/pages you feel like you have to follow. (Unless you’re incredibly diligent about creating lists or blocking updates from people and apps. In that case, I’m jealous!)
My relationship status with Facebook was “complicated.” It just didn’t feel very social to me. Instead, I spent FAR more time on Instagram and Twitter, two services that I love. But, I recently joined a new group on Facebook, which is making my love/hate relationship tilt back toward love. Through email and this Facebook group, DJ Waldow brought together 75+ people from various parts of his network. I can’t say for sure, but it seems like most people in the group don’t know each other, but we’re all in it for a common reason: To live a healthier lifestyle. In this group, people are sharing tips, articles and goals, while also answering questions, offering advice and providing moral support. It’s basically a virtual support group. No self-promotion. No “look how great my life is.” No useless updates from brands that you don’t really care about. It’s just a group of people helping each other work toward a collective goal. But, through it, we’re making new connections and getting to know each other — or at least this part of our lives. It’s what social media is supposed to be … or at least what I want it to be.
Not long ago, I shared some lessons learned during my mini-hiatus, including the need to appreciate my “Twitter friends.” During this two-week period, I realized how important those friendships had become in my life and how thankful I am for the people I’ve befriended via Twitter. Now, thanks to DJ, I’m also beginning to appreciate Facebook again.
The big takeaway for me? Don’t get so caught up in social media that you forget to actually be social. This applies to people and brands. While I don’t believe brands are actually “friends” with their customers — at least not in the traditional sense of the word — brands can, and should, make a concerted effort to build more meaningful relationships. Put the social back in social media and you’ll experience the rewards, whether you’re looking to strengthen relationships with friends or customers.