I woke up Saturday morning with a number of things floating around my mind, such as the amount of time until I next see Sara, how I was going to get all my work done before the Ireland Vs England rugby match and a nagging, scraping feeling in the back of my mind about relationships.
As the caffeine from my first cup of coffee began to work it’s way into my system it hit me that relationships are about 1:1 communication.
Okay, admittedly that’s a fairly obvious to most people and not exactly a revelation. It’s something that we all know and many of us have been advocating online for years. If you want to grow your brand or blog you have to foster 1:1 relationships with your readers/followers/fans in order to develop loyalty.
I’ve always thought that social media was about developing and nurturing those relationships. I thought it was about communicating with your fans and followers, about growing that 1:1 connection that would allow organic growth as those you’ve developed relationships with will feel comfortable enough with you or your brand to recommend you to their peers, thus introducing you to a new social circle where you can again begin to develop the 1:1 relationships.
That, in a nutshell is what social media is to me.
What I see happening online today, being pimped and pushed by “those in the know” is not social media, it’s influence media.
In order to get ahead today we are still being told to foster relationships but not with our followers (or at least not so much). The prevailing school of thought, at least to my cynical eyes, is that in order to grow you must foster relationships with just a handful of influencers and allow them do the work of communicating your message or spreading the word.
That’s a smart marketing tactic (to some degree, it still lacks 1:1 familiarity with the people you want to reach) but it’s by no means social media. It’s influence media.
It’s a numbers game where we use services or look at the follower numbers in order to find people like Scoble or Chris Brogan, suck up to them and hope that they will spread your word to the people you want to reach. Obviously the more of these influencers you can grease up then then the more people you can reach and the quicker you can reach them.
Which leads me to ask why are people promoting this process of finding these influencers and soliciting them to spread the word rather than fostering the actual relationship/social media approach?
The answer oddly enough is that these influencers are actually good at the social media side of things (that’s how they became influencers) but they are also very smart people. They know that by promoting the “influnce media” model they are setting themselves up as hubs.
Promoting social media as being the practice of finding influencers to spread the word for you actually encourages others not to become influencers, which removes competition and removing the competition is key when being an influence hub is a lucrative business.