Want To Understand the Why of Social Media? Live It

This week, I, along with other professionals, gathered at a trade conference session to discuss the importance of a strong social media presence in marketing. More than once, the conversation turned from tactical tips to an overall ‘why.’ Even in the face of countless statistics about social network usage, trends in mobile Internet usage and social-based conversion rates, there were a few blank stares and confused looks.

The thing is, if you’re not actively engaged, you’ll never really, truly, fully understand the ‘why’.

Posting to Facebook, sharing articles on Twitter, reviewing restaurants or stores, chatting with people I’ve never actually met about common-interest topics… I don’t think need to think much about it – it is just a part of my every experience. It’s habit. I live social media, and I’m not alone. There are millions of us.

Why are so many of us living social media? What are we getting out of all of this reading, sharing and discussing? Why do ‘social media junkies’ find it so strange when we hear people say there is no value in our activity?

The ‘why’ is about constant learning. It’s about discoveries. It’s about thinking about things in new ways. It’s about supporting and recommending the companies and brands we love. It’s about having instant access to just about anything we want to learn about. It’s about conversations about events and news happening right now… This very minute. It is about continuing relationships long after we’ve moved away, and finding people we like where we are now. It’s about listening to people who inspire us, and trying to inspire those with whom we share. It’s about information, connections and emotion.

No amount of statistics, no chart-filled PowerPoint or panel of marketing experts can make you a believer. You can’t claim to understand how it works, or wrap your head around real ‘why’ unless you’re a part of it.

And if you’re not a part of it, and you don’t really ‘get’ it, how can you ever effectively use it as a marketing tool? How can you ever be genuinely enthusiastic about your campaign?

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