The human aspect of social media

Sometimes, as business owners, we get wrapped up in the world of commerce. Marketing our products and services to potential customers can take up a large proportion of our time. We sometimes forget people are just that – people. Marketing to the masses and shouting your message to the crowd quickly gets lost in the sea of noise that is the Internet.

Sometimes it’s nice to draw a breath, take stock of things and remember that we live in a society with other people that hurt, experience hardship and lose themselves, loved ones, their businesses and sometimes their lives.

Social media is gaining a lot of mainstream attention in the media and many companies are using it to market to their potential customers. Some are doing it well, others not so much.

When a new way of communicating emerges, there’s always going to be companies that jump on board and blast out the same old tired lines of marketing dribble.

‘Social media experts’ will try and convince us that super-sizing our Twitter and Facebook accounts to ‘get more friends and followers’ will make us ‘social media superstars’. But in reality this tactic can distract us from the fact we’re actually talking with real people behind the profile pictures – our customers.

Simple fact: Social media is not designed for business.

Yes it can help businesses immensely, but it’s people sharing real, warts-and-all experiences and asking for advice, help, assistance or information. It’s not a cookie cut marketing message system that makes it easier to broadcast your products.

With this in mind I wanted to share with you some of the more human aspects of social media – stories that will touch you, move you, and make you think a little differently about how you see and use social media.

Aaron Durand saved his mum’s bookstore with a Tweet

This is a delightful story of woman who had run an independent bookstore for nearly two decades. When the GFC hit, her business went spiraling down with it.

Her son wanted to help so he tweeted for people to visit the store. As a last minute thing he said he would buy a burrito for anyone that purchased over $50 worth of books. The story took hold and was passed on from Twitter user to Twitter user – almost overnight the store had a wave of new customers.

If you’re in Portland do me a favor??? Buy a book at Broadway Books. No wait, buy 3 of em. I’ll buy you a burrito the next time I’m in town.?Dec 10th 2008 @EverydayDude

DR. Willy Muntunga opened the African courts to direct communication through Twitter

After becoming Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Africa in June 2011, Dr Willy Muntunga did a first for Africa. He opened a Twitter account and encouraged two-way communications with the courts. He tweets, replies, and even gives advice when there are difficult situations at hand.

I will listen to all Kenyans and be fair and just since justice is our business!?Sep 28th 2011 @WMutunga

Mark Slavonia challenged Lance Armstrong to ride the world’s steepest road

Mark didn’t know Lance Armstong and probably wasn’t even expecting a reply when he posted his challenge on Twitter. The dare was simple. Ride without stopping up the Waipio Valley Road in Hawaii (the worlds steepest road) and Mark would donate $10,000 to the LiveStrong Foundation.

Within ten minutes he had a reply from seven-time Tour-de-France winner Lance Armstrong, and a year later Lance rode the hill and secured the donation.

@lancearmstrong I’ll donate $10,000 to the LAF you can ride up Waipio Road on a road bike without stopping. Anyone else want to donate??Feb 14th 2011 @slavonia

Chris Strouth tweeted “sh*t, I need a kidney”, then got one

Living with kidney disease for three years, Chris Strouth’s condition was worsening. Not knowing what else to do, he tweeted: ”Sh*t, I need a kidney”.

A few days later he had over 15 offers to see if there was a potential match. One of the offers came from a friend that Chris had not seen for years. After seeing the tweet his friend researched the procedure and got the test to see if he was a match.

When the match came back positive he donated his kidney and saved Chris.

In the waiting room at the hospital, I feel like I am in 7th grade just before swimming class #fb?Dec 1st 2010 @ChrisStrouth

With these examples we can see the ability social media has to change people’s lives – sometimes save them. Think about this the next time you want to post about your latest widget and remember… we’re all human.