Social Marketing is Person-to-Person NOT Business-to-Person

so·cial [soh-shuhl]

  1. pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
  2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others;  friendly; sociable;  gregarious.
  3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.

Definition from 

If we look at the definition of the adjective “social” it becomes clear that any social interaction involves two or more people, not a corporate entity.

When businesses attempt to use social marketing channels like Facebook and Twitter, they sometimes do so behind a corporate identity or profile; this just does not work very well.
Even the best known brands require there to be a front-person who creates and nurtures relationships with followers, readers and fans.

After all, when was the last time you sent your gas or phone company a Christmas card? You, as an individual, will not have that kind of social relationship with a business entity; they on the other hand will try and maintain what is essentially a one-sided relationship with you – they will send you a Christmas card – but it’s not because they want to be friends with you.

But on social networking sites, it is a different story – these are one-to-one relationships and a business just cannot hope to nurture a fruitful relationship with a person when the person doesn’t know who he or she is ‘relating’ to.
It becomes another push channel, throwing marketing messages out hoping somebody will see them and react. This may happen initially, when a profile is first set up and word gets around that a brand is now on the same platform, but that excitement will quickly dissipate as it becomes clear that there is no truly social element to the interaction.

It also doesn’t help if the business operates an ‘avatar’ profile i.e. a non-real person who does the engagement. Think about your friends – do you know the personality types of each one, how they react to certain events, news etc. You probably do and that’s because each one of us is a unique individual; one that can be easily recognised by those closest to us.
A non-person profile operated by a business will not have a unique personality, or at least not one that will be consistent. ‘Friends’ and followers will quickly see through this and ignore anything that comes their way from that profile. Worse, there could be a backlash of negative sentiment toward the profile if people feel they’re being ‘gamed’; relationships are, after all, based on trust.

So if you are a business that wants to benefit from social channels be sure to have a real person represent the business; Pick this person carefully as it is with them that a relationship will be formed by your soon to be brand ambassadors and customers.