Social Media Marketing: social media is about BEING social, not about DOING social.

Social media and social media marketing are the talks of the town. Still, not all companies, including those who declare they have a social media strategy or a social media marketing strategy, got it completely right. Yet some great initiatives demonstrate some companies are getting it right.

I got inspired to write this blog post mainly thanks to a few articles (you’ll find links to those articles, as usual, at the bottom of this blog post) and thanks to an incredibly good initiative I got invited to participate into. But let’s go step by step.

While the majority of companies today get how important is to have a presence on social media, just a few of them got they need a social media strategy, fully integrated with both their marketing strategy and their company culture.

What does this mean?

I am sure you found a lot of numbers and figures before defining your social media budget and by now you know that also:

about half of the biggest companies’ websites have a link to their Facebook fan page on their homepage. So – you think- half of the biggest companies have a social media strategy, right?


This is the most common mistake. Not that different from the one I often do when I buy a new pair of shoes, forgetting that having them in my closet is not the same as wearing them- but the thing is, I cannot wear stilettos all the time.

So a Facebook page works exactly the same way: if you cannot be there all the time (or at least a good amount of time, enough to talk to your audience), it’s useless.


Because – not sure you heard-  about 800 million people are there too, which means surely the largest portion of your audience – regardless of your business bring B2B or B2C. And this means they may find it way more convenient to talk to you through your Facebook page than calling you on the phone (and wait for 5 minutes dialing even more numbers to go through your automated call center).

They will surely prefer to drop you a line on your Facebook page rather than sending you an email to an email address that sends them an automated reply from a email address.

Especially if you proudly put your nice white F on a blue button to show how cool your company is- you also have a Facebook page.

And 27 fans, 3 pictures (your logos in low resolution being 2 of them) and 5 wall posts.

Each of them with one Like: yours.

And next to that Facebook button you likely have a Twitter button too, to witness your business is really social. You probably have that on your email signature and on your PPTs. Then you client clicks on it and reads “15 tweets sent, last tweet April 2009”. Nice.

And -still thinking you are really cool and social- you added your Twitter handle and a link to your Facebook all over the places.

So I follow you, I mention you, and I get you have not got the whole social media thing: I never got a reply, or a thank you for RT. ‘cause you do not monitor your mentions or your company mentions, and you have no idea who is tweeting about you, who is tweeting to you and how good comments tweeted about you are. You were told Twitter is like just having a Facebook status without the whole Facebook. (I recently got a #FF from someone that is not even following me on Twitter, and it was not a RT, of course. Can you believe that?)

The thing is, there is a huge difference between doing social (media) and being social.

Doing social (too bad) means mainly having a Facebook page or a Twitter handle, and a maybe also a LinkedIn group, private (to show how social you are).

Being social means: interact, listen, answer, accept critics, improve your business thanks to those critics, build trust, be reachable by your audience – for the first time they can talk to your brand. They could not talk to your brand when your commercials were on TV, or on magazines, or a banner the only way they could touch was with a click.

They have been waiting for decades for this chance to talk to your brand and they now deserve to be listened. Especially since they talk to each other all the time, and referrals are the new selling channel in the social media era.

A great example of social media marketing campaign that demonstrates a social media approach: Quality Hunters, by Finnair and Helsinki Airport.

I recently came across an incredibly good, social and clever initiative, that synthetizes many concepts I already wrote about in this post. Not sure you heard about it before, it’s a really cool initiative and it’s called “Quality Hunters”, now at its second year, which makes it “Quality Hunters 2”.

Quality Hunters 2 is an initiative by Finnair and Helsinki Airport. Together they will hire 7 Quality Hunters to travel the world and seek out fresh ideas on quality and how to improve air travel and the airport experience. “ this is what their website says about this project.

First of all, what I liked the most is their approach is fully social and depicts a truly social company culture: they sent personalized messaged through LinkedIn (social), then they followed applicants and engaged in conversations on twitter, they invited everyone to spread the word about this initiative and of course- they do know this- they offer the most incredibly exciting job ever, if you love travels and writing: you get paid to travel the world, and write about your journeys.

I have to admit when I got their message via LinkedIn I thought it was a joke. It was too good to be true for someone like me who is passionate about travels and writing!

“Finnair and Helsinki airport strive to offer services tailored to fit people’s individual needs. This cannot be achieved without offering everyone a chance to have their say and engage in dialogue on what makes air travel just click” they continue on their website.

“Once the Quality Hunters have been selected, this site will also be their digital home: they will produce texts, photos and video of their adventures and their ideas on how to make air travel better.”

At Finnair and Helsinki, they were looking for 7 Quality Hunters, and got over 1,900 applications. Winners will be announced in the coming days. Applications for this season closed on October 6th.

This is just the most incredibly social initiative I have ever seen, so far. It’s not about winning an iPad, by inviting your friends to a new website, nor about exchanging follows on a Facebook or Twitter.It’s not one of those social actions purely aimed at spreading ads all over the places.

They show they listen, they show they understand the importance of referrals and feedback, and they understand that, combined, referrals and feedbacks are the most powerful weapon to win the marketing battle.

They understand quality is the most precious element of their product/service, combined with an excellent customer service, which is, in case you forgot, the ability of being responsive to customers enquiries, needs, comments, feedback, requests.

Where do you stand? Are you DOING social or are you BEING social?

Related reading:

10 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing: social media is about BEING social, not about DOING social.

Add yours

  1. Great post Cinzia. Particularly in regards to listening to the social space for improvement – listening to critics and reacting positively. Just as you say, there’s nothing worse than taking the time to click a Twitter link or Blog and find out that the last time it was updated was last June! It feels far too ‘forced’ – as if they know they should have it but haven’t thought about a purpose.

    As you say, be sociable – be honest, be friendly and be active. It isn’t rocket science.

    1. @freestyleint, thank you for your comment.
      The thing is, IMHO, often companies know they need to implement social media into their marketing strategy. Nevertheless, surprisingly enough for those who are technology-savvy, social media are still seen as “facebook= waste of time” and something that can be done by an intern, or someone who randomly has access to that twitter handle or to any other social media account.
      So they start with their social media button, often keeping the “typer” completely blind on the core marketing strategy, and if/when that person either leaves or takes over “more relevant” tasks, they al forget about it.

      How many times have you heard “I do not have time for social media”? I wonder how nice it may sound for a client who knows that actually means “I have no time to speak with my clients” – but they do try and use that channel for pure selling purposes.

      I was at a conference a couple of days ago, they were straming the twitter feed on the screen wih the event’s hashtag. A lady sitting next to me asked me 2 questions:
      “1- are you on that chat as well? (with “chat” in italian being used not as a meaning of “conversation” but more as a “online talking about all and nothing”); 2- can you write something on my behalf?”

      And I can tell you it was (supposed to be) a tech savvy audience. When CMOs will sit down and talk with CTOs, maybe we’ll get to it 🙂

  2. Cinzia…..thank you for coming down on the lack of interaction with people you are connecting with using social media. I recently started asking people on LinkedIn why they decided to ask me to connect. Not only was it a way to start a real conversation, it helped me understand more about my own branding efforts. One of these days people will get it you build relationships by really interacting—thanks for taking the time to write this.

    1. Thank You Kathy,
      I believe it’s interesting the reason why the majority of us joins social networks (think about LInkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc) is because of the networking opportunity, but then we don’t really do any networking.
      Many ppl just “collect” friends on Facebook, and barely share thoughts or pictures, and many collect colleagues on LinkedIn without following topics, groups, or doing/receiving endorsements.
      I think many opportunities are lost because of this lack of interaction. Only those who catch these opportunities will have better chances!
      Move your first step and consider social networks like real events: meet people, talk to them, introduce yourself, ask around.

  3. It’s so sad and frustrating to see how brands/companies sign up for social media and then just leave it at that. There’s a flaw in the web marketing plan or strategy if establishing social media presence ends at sign up. Like I always say, “engage” is the operative word. Connect. Clients, potential clients, donors, and simply visitors want a connection. As a client, when I tweet my internet service provider or leave a comment on their FB page, I have to admit that it delights me when there is an immediate and meaningful response.

    1. Kate, I do hear you!
      I never liked when a friend did not reply to my text message. talking to brands online gives me the same frustration when I do not get a reply and gives me a feeling “they care” when they do reply. I think in a time when we all spend the majority of our day in front of a computer, any human sign (like interaction with brands) is very welcomed. And this translated into a higher propention to buy that brand instead of the other that did not give us a reply.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: