It's no wonder that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have taken off as a force to be reckoned with.
What makes Facebook and Twitter sticky?
What are the successful social networks doing better than other networks? Why do people gravitate to one social network over the other? What makes them stick around?
Why is Facebook able to attract everything from my 70 year old mother-in-law to my 7 yr old son?
Facebook satisfies some of our basic human needs. Our needs to belong, to be provided for, to fit in.
In one simple status update or 140 character tweet we can ask for help, brag about a great day or accomplishment, or simply ask for a prayer when in need. Within usually seconds we get a response. Someone sends a verse of inspiration, words of wisdom, a virtual pat on the back via a "like" or share.
It's more than technology.
It's the power of community that makes these networks special. It's not the network, nor the technology infrastructure that is the community. It's not the like button or the comment box. It's definitely not the annoying new Facebook timeline.
The social networks are simply the medium that connects people to other people. So what is it? What is that keeps the social heartbeat of Facebook? How do social networks such as Facebook and Twitter keep the healthy pulse morning, noon and night?
I host the #GetRealChat every Tuesday night at 9pm et. We get between 12-25 million impressions on a typical night. However, it's not the impressions or opt-ins that keep the community thriving. It's the people. People that I can remember joining a year ago who could hardly tweet or retweet. Yet today they are now leading their communities. They are helping others, and we are all succeeding together as a team, not as one. Twitter is simply the medium that lets us connect weekly with folks across the globe. Tweeters who can sometimes bring a tear to my eye in a simple 140 character tweet. To me, that is powerful and what keeps me stickin' and tweetin' around.
Yes, Google plus has good momentum. It is now clearly understood for businesses that depend on the search engines for web traffic to drive business leads that they can not ignore Google and Google plus. However, I question if Google will ever win the heart. I question if they will ever be able to keep up the pulse with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Forcing us to +1 something for search results is far different than someone sharing a business article to help a friend who needs a job or a picture of a new baby with a Grandma who lives across the country.
The heartbeat of social media is you and me.
The heartbeat of social is the people. That heartbeat gets stronger, louder and becomes viral as more people feel and hear it. It's what they see, talk about, share, listen to, watch, virtually touch and feel that keeps them coming back. It's the emotion of good, sad, bad, frustrated, happy and grateful. It's the ability to share all of those special times and moments with others. It's the sharing of hopes, dreams, ups, downs, prayers, accomplishments that keep us bonded. It's new friendships that start with a Tweet on Twitter and turn into a like or friendship on Facebook. It's the friendship that evolves to in real life friendship.
The heartbeat of social is people sharing life together. Yes, we share business. Yes, we share blog posts, data, expertise, tips and tricks. However, at the end of the day, people buy from people. People are at the heart of communities. Communities are the heart of the social networks. You can't have one without the other.
My question for you....
Are you part of the beating heart? Or are you just a part of the noise contributing to the stress, confusion and disbelief in the value of social media.
I challenge you to ponder this question in your online work in 2012. Do something of value. Do something that makes people smile. Do something that creates communities doing good things together. Do something that outlives you. Focus on helping others achieve their goals and chances are achieving yours will happen by default!
Heartbeat of Social Media Series
This blog post is the first in a new series I am kicking off titled "The Heartbeat of Social Media". It will include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.
Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!