Happy birthday Heather
Really, this post is about more than what it takes to engage an audience across social media; it’s about listening and responding to an environment where people want to feel valued and listened to. Heather Head, founder of Scopcity, turned 40 yesterday, and while that may not sound out-of-the-ordinary, what she asked for from her social media friends might strike some as beautifully altruistic. She asked that her friends go out and perform a random act of kindness and post about it to her wall.
Well, I didn’t leave the house yesterday (that was NOT my random act of kindness). My husband attempted to help out and offered to buy picks or strings for one of his guitar students, but the student politely declined. The random factor was key.
I decided the first thing I would do today would be this random act. I had meant to be more proactive in my positivity, but I had never actually gone through a drive-thru and paid for the car behind me. Really, I felt nerve-wracked. I turned down one way thinking I would stop at a fast food place, then worried about not making it to class on time. I considered visiting the Chik Fil A on campus and paying for the person behind me in line. I chickened out (excuse the pun). I turned around again and headed away from campus toward the nearest Chik Fil A. I chose Chik Fil A partially because the people who work there have always done an excellent job with customer service, acting genuinely grateful for my patronage. The main reason I chose Chik Fil A was because the chicken biscuit is about the only fast-food breakfast I enjoy.
I’m still shaking a little
Seriously, when I made the decision to pay for the car behind me a flurry of scattered thoughts pummeled my brain. I felt nervous, like I was about to commit a crime! I worried that I would forget to tell the lady I wanted to pay for the car behind me. I feared I wouldn’t get a “good picture” to show the lady who inspired this particular act.
After purchasing my own biscuit, and paying the car behind me, I watched as the employee told the lady the car in front of her bought her breakfast. All of a sudden I felt like a creepy slimeball trying to hit on someone at a bar – totally my own projection, but I worried she thought I wanted something! To make my paranoia worse, the car in front of me stopped when I thought traffic was the issue. When I realized I could and should go around, the car behind me was pulling away. I worried she would want to thank me, and that wasn’t the point! I felt a bit discouraged that I didn’t see her pay for the car behind her, but to her credit I forgot the phrase “pay it forward” and simply told the employee to tell the lady “Have a great day.” The car did pull back around toward the drive-thru, though, so for all I know she went through a second time to pass on the positivity.
What does this have to do with social media? And my Klout score?
Klout attempts to measure social influence, which may not matter to everyone but hotels have been known to upgrade accommodations based on the number Klout gives you. Just about every person in business, especially small businesses, want to know how to master social engagement and use it to increase sales. But that’s the wrong way to go about the free tool of the plethora of social platforms. The key to working social media well is simply to become part of the conversation. Don’t just butt in and start talking about what you think your potential target market wants to hear, but listen and then act.
The lesson I learned from all this is that, while Heather’s post and some other friends of mine have seen long conversation threads on Facebook, the point was not to engage people for the purpose of business. Yet, when I think of people who have interacted in this way, I think more highly about them as passionate people. None of my friends who have promoted “Pass it on” hang out on social media sites begging for readers of their blogs or patrons of their business, but these are the FIRST people I want to give my business to.
If you want to use social media to engage an audience and stay active in a discussion with people who may one day hire you or buy what you’re selling, start with your ears. Listen and maybe do something that someone else suggests. It may truly make your day – like my random act did for me. I can only hope to continue passing on advice intended to genuinely help. Building brands is what I care about. It’s my core desire to help others and spread a positive feeling in an often negative world.
Have a nice day!