People always ask me how to generate more leads, make more sales and increase their business with the Internet. They want to know how to use Social Media to accomplish this. Its free and they have the ability to broadcast to the whole world and they ask, “How can I reel them in using Twitter or Facebook?”

What do you think about that question? Is there anything wrong with it? Does it feel right or accurate or desirable?

The Internet is made up of lots of Social Media Groups

We are Social People on the Web

I say that something is definitely wrong with that question. Here’s the deal. For years and years, since the beginning of advertising, it has always been a one-to-many method of accomplishing that desire. Some marketing firm or department comes up with a message; it goes through design and testing and finally gets approved by management. It gets printed, filmed, broadcast, labeled and mailed. The message is then accepted or rejected by the potential consumer who got blasted with the message that interrupted their favorite TV show or while they wait to hear their favorite song on the radio. The open the mail near the trash can to zap anything of little interest. They spend 10-30 minutes a day deleting junk email.

Its called interruption marketing. We are so used to it we hardly notice it anymore and we just live with it. We change the channel, turn the dial, throw it in the trash or make some decision that we are going to do something about what we just heard, saw or read.

But Social Media is different.
Its Social. . .
Its Friendly. . .
Its Relationship driven. . .

If we have a relationship with someone and they turn and try to sell us something , it can ruin that relationship in an instant. Someone wanting us to join his or her favorite Miracle Juice Company has accosted us all and something happened to that relationship in the process. It dropped a notch. It may even ruin the relationship and removed the trust you once had.

Social media should be an investment in building relationships. Just as it takes time to build a friendship, it takes time online too. Dr. Bret L. Simmons is great at pointing out this principle and trying to get people to make this shift in the advertising world.

Twitter is great for sharing your message amongst friends who share your same ideas and passions. But you have to build those relationships and find those who feel the same way you do. That doesn’t happen overnight.

I recently attended a panel on Social Media at the University of Nevada Reno with 4 great guys who are leaders in this industry. Each one came from various backgrounds and experiences and approached things in a different way but the consensus was the same. The panelists were Bret L. Simmons of the College of Business (UNR), Mike Henderson of One to One Interactive, Professor Todd Felt of the School of Journalism (UNR), and Flip Wright from the Glenn Group. About 65 people attended the event and although it started out slowly, it really took off and all were well fed with new information and a new perspective about Social Media.

Here is the message of the evening: if you try to use interruption-marketing techniques in a Social Media setting, you will fail. If you are a jerk in person, you are a jerk online and Social Media will bring that out in a short time.

There is such potential on the Internet for something good to happen. The opposite also exists and unless we follow the rules of Social Media, we will go the way of the online dodo bird and become extinct.

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