Social Media Gurus with No Social Skills

Here’s an ironic moment – we’re sitting across from a person at dinner who is chatting non-stop and loudly about trends in social media. She’s talking about the changes in Facebook search, the Recommendation she just made for someone on LinkedIn, Google’s next big move, etc.

And yet, she never looks up once from her smartphone at her own family. Never puts the phone down. She actually has a fork in one hand and her smartphone in the other.

That doesn’t make her cool. Or cutting edge. Or in the know. It’s actually kind of sick and pathetic.

If we’re to truly understand how to interact with people and build communities, we have to know how to…interact with people.

Hey, it’s really awesome that you know how to grow someone’s social media presence. Kudos to you that you know all about the latest and greatest happenings in social media. That’s important stuff and I’m not being a smartass about that.

But if you don’t know how to have real conversations with real people outside of your smartphone/tablet/computer, you are a social media expert with no social skills. The problem with that beyond the fact that it hurts you in building genuine, meaningful relationships is that we’re not just in the “Like” Building business or obsessed with getting more Twitter Followers.

We’re here to understand the emotional reasons of what makes people tick. What makes them laugh, cry, share certain things and feel intensely motivated to comment. And yes, what makes them purchase things repeatedly and keep them loyal to certain brands.

If we don’t understand that, we’re missing an understanding of brand strategy and messaging toward the very people who could be customers and advocates. If we can’t converse well with people in the physical world, how genuine can our conversations be in the digital space? Maybe some of us can fake it and be immersed in social media without developing social skills…but do we really want to go that route with such a lack of perspective? Do we really think that makes for creating better content?

This isn’t preachy, “remember your family, friends and other important people in your life” stuff. This is about understanding how to communicate with those who have flesh and bone, not just a Twitter handle. Glad you caught Mark Zuckerberg’s press conference on the latest Facebook rollout, but did you also have a dialogue with a person who could be your next strategic partner or customer? How often does that dialogue occur in a restaurant, coffee shop or just a setting that isn’t digital?

To me, brand communication isn’t filled with jargon or what the CEO wants to hear. It’s how you make a connection with the audience that makes them feel something. It’s not about being present but listening and asking questions. It’s not about assuming we know everything about the other individual but coming in with an inquisitive thirst for learning more so we can tailor our conversations in a more personal way – the way that makes someone say, “They really get me.”

To get there, you’ve got to look up from the screen more often and look a human being in the eyes.

8 Chicago Media Mavens I Love Following on Twitter

On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share the love with some wonderful people in town I look up to regularly for their wisdom on advertising, marketing and social media strategy. They make me a better expert at what I do (after all, nobody can know everything and if they claim to, be very suspicious) and make me grateful that we have such a social media community like Twitter where such sharing of knowledge can occur.

In truth, there are so many more than these 8 in town that I love following but I’d be writing this post for the next month or so. I didn’t include brands/organizations I love following for this list but specific people. If you have others you’d like to suggest for this list that you like following, let me know.

Here they are, in no particular ranking:

Gini Dietrich: @ginidietrich
Fun, smart, thought leader. Love watching her videos / reading her views on social media and PR’s role in it. Plus, I really hate the concept of PR “spin” so I have to love any person who also has the handle of @SpinSucks.

Liz Strauss: @lizstrauss
Great thoughts on social media that she writes originally and finds to share. On an underrated note, she takes some of the most stunning photos of the lake via Instagram.

Barry Moltz: @barrymoltz
I usually have a “Hey, I didn’t know that” moment when this gentleman shares compelling tweets on technology related to social media.

Amber Naslund: @ambercadabra
I became a fan of Amber’s the moment I read her book co-authored with Jay Baer, “The Now Revolution.” Most recently with Radian6, I’m anxious to watch her next venture and read her tweets in the interim.

Sima Dahl: @simasays
Social media wisdom from Sima dispensed regularly. We’ve had some nice banter over Twitter and look forward to meeting her in person soon.

Steve Congdon: @stevecongdon
The king of Chicago ad agency new business thoughts. And quite possibly one of the nicest people in town you may meet.

Ann Dwyer: @AnnDwyer_Crains
If it deals with Chicago business and entrepreneurs, Ann’s all over it through her Crain’s blog and tweets. (Full disclosure – I just started writing a weekly blog column on Crain’s each Wednesday, but was a genuine fan of Ann long before that).

Adriana Llames: @adrianallames
Adriana always has good things to share on the topics of personal branding and career coaching.

I know this is hardly an all-encompassing list. Again, there are many more in town that I love following in other areas. But you could do a lot worse than following these folks to start with.

And if you happen to like what these people are tweeting about, you may similarly enjoy following a certain guy who goes by the handle of @DanOnBranding. Just sayin’.