"What is uttered from the heart alone
will win the hearts of others to your own."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
THE INTRODUCTORY NARRATIVE in the film Love, Actually changed the way I think about people. It went like this:
"Whenever I get gloomy about the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. But, I don't see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy. But, it's always there. Fathers and sons. Mothers and daughters. Husbands and wives. Boyfriends and girlfriends. Old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling that love actually is...all around."
I know: so sweet, it's practically saccharine. But, I'm quaffing Pinot, and that scene makes me verklempt. And, it conveys an important point about us humans: we're inherently good. I resolutely believe that. And, I'll never stop believing that.
When I decided to engage in social media in March 2009, I went in with four beliefs: 1. We naturally elevate to the company we keep; 2. Lifting others up lifts me up; 3. Anything worth doing takes work; and 4. Good business is good for business.
These four guiding principles have served me well, personally and professionally. I've been on Twitter for two years, and while I only have 25,000 or so followers, they are emotionally engaged. I sought to build social capital, not actual capital. I didn't monetize my Twitter followers by pushing my books. I gave them advice and answered their questions. I cared. I delivered value and my expertise. They got around to finding out about my books-and, in some cases, buying them.
In social media, you don't want to win minds. You want to win hearts. (So important, it bears repeating: you don't want to win minds. You want to win hearts.) Do this and people will be naturally inspired to help you, without your having to ask. That's the Law of Reciprocity in its glorious splendor. Or, as Vaynerchuk says: the (*@#&! "Thank You Economy!"
Old-School Rules, New-School Technologies
To be successful in social media, you have to say what you mean and mean what you say. This applies to companies and individuals alike. (And, I promise you, if you try to pull the wool over people's eyes, they will punish you dearly for it. Just ask Bank of America or United Airlines or Dell, ad infinitum...)
When a consumer wants to know if your product is worth buying, they bypass expert reviews (could be planted, solicited, paid-or all three). They don't bother with your website (it's pure marketing). They Google you. They scan review sites like Amazon and Yelp (filtering by 1-star reviews first). They check out search.twitter.com or ask their friends on Facebook. They "social-search" you.
Staid corporate diatribes, cheesy sales pitches and tired marketing messages only draw our ire and push us away. Speak in a human voice. Relate to me in a sincere and authentic way. Tell me about the good things you are doing in our world. Do those things, and I will buy from you and evangelize your brand.
The following story-and many others like it-prove that in social media: nice guys (and gals) can finish first.
Social media success story: TOMS Shoes
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. That is to have succeeded."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
TOMS Shoes is living, breathing-and walking-proof that in this "world-of-mouth" economy, good business is good for business.
I haven't met one person who doesn't love this brand. I've been compelled several times to Tweet about TOMS Shoes. I can't help myself: it's the kind of company you want to see succeed. I have generated thousands of dollars of free promotion for TOMS-without their having to ask. When you do good business, people will spread the word far, fast and wide.
Here's what makes TOMS so special and "share-worthy": With every product sold, TOMS helps someone in need.
While competing in The Amazing Race with his sister, Blake Mycoskie visited Argentina. That's where the idea of TOMS Shoes came to him.
"I was sitting on a farm pondering life," he said. "And it occurred to me, 'I'm going to start a shoe company, and for every pair that we sell, I'll give a pair to someone who needs them.'" After he noticed the numerous children without shoes in the poorer villages, he returned to the United States and sold his online driver education company to finance the shoe company.
That is tailor-made for social media. Everyone loves a story like that. The secret sauce is the "share-worthiness" of the social good aspect: for every pair they sell, they donate a new pair to a child in need of shoes.
Don't take my word for it. Google "TOMS Shoes"-and you will see a flood of positive publicity about this brand. That is "reputation management" at its finest! As more people engage in social media, and more people learn how to use these tools, companies like TOMS are going to win increasing amounts of free, positive publicity in the most trust-based way: word of mouth.
Companies approach our agency all the time asking for help with "brand monitoring and reputation management." We're happy to help. But I always tell them: If you manage your reputation by doing good business, you won't have to "monitor your brand."
To rally people to your cause-to win their hearts-whether it's around a product, service, point of view or movement, do three things:
- Have the goods. Create a stellar product/service/position that people cannot help but evangelize. People have the tools to promote you, but you must inspire them to do that. Convey your information compellingly, with humor, passion, insight-or all three. Put out "share-worthy" content. Remember, the magic isn't in the tweet (reaches your followers); it's in the retweet (reaches the world).
- Care. Care about your customers. Seriously. They put food on your table. Have #gratitude. If you must shift your mindset (or your culture to get employees to care about customers), then do that. Otherwise, all the social media in the world won't help you. In this economy, caring isn't everything. It's the only thing. Get your people squared up on what the vision is for 2011 and enlist them. Fire them up. Ignite their passions. Get them engaged in social media (within the confines of a well-defined social media policy; you have one, right?). Inspire them to care.
- Make a movement. If you engage in social good, good for you. Let the world know. If not, decide what one thing makes your blood boil and your heart ache. Commit to helping that cause. Social media can unleash a world of social good, and good for our world is indeed good for business in this "world-of-mouth economy."
Social media has ushered in a new era in which everyone is more connected and empowered than ever. Meet the new vanguard of empowered influencers: the Jure Klepic's, the Jan Minihane's, the Teri Conrad's. Your company no longer controls the message. These beautiful people do. Their influence is strong, and it's growing by the minute.
Robert Louis Stevenson said: "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." Social media takes time-especially if you do it right. It's not a marketing channel, it's a human relationship.
Put people first. It's not merely the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do.
Eric Harr is the new Social Media Expert for CBS News and the Founder & President of Resonate Social Media. This post is excerpted from his best-selling new book: "The REAL TRUTH About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths Uncovered & 8 Monumental Myths Revealed" available online and in bookstores across America. [Give the gift that gives back this holiday season! Use code "GIVEBACK" on the REAL TRUTH Website and receive 10% off as proceeds benefit CARE, to defend dignity and fight poverty worldwide.]