Imagine if you went to a party and saw someone who was surrounded by thousands of people. You might be curious, you might walk over to see what the stir was all about.  But after listening for a few minutes you realize all those people were looking at the popular party goer, but talking to one another. The “popular” party goer is gathering confidence from the fact that so many people are around, so he just gets louder.

Why are all these people standing there, but still talking with one another? Because they were curious too, but now that they see what’s going on, they really don’t care, in fact, they think the “popular” party-goer is pretty self-involved, all he does is talk about himself, what he did, does or wants to do. He NEVER asks anyone else what they think, how they feel or whether they enjoy a particular activity.  So, the HUGE crowd turns away and begins to focus again on their “real” relationships.  They don’t leave, because its just easier to stay, but they have given up caring. Strangely, because they continue to stand there, more people trickle in.

There’s another kind of party guest.

This guest takes the time to talk with everyone he meets. He warmly welcomes people and makes them feel as though he is genuinely glad to meet them. He asks questions and listens to the answers, and each of the people around him feel as though they are having a private conversation with him. He introduces people he knows to one another and even tells them what they might have in common. He is consistently surrounded by an smaller, but more engaged group of people. He couldn’t possibly talk to thousands of people at the party, because he actually communicates with, not at, the people who are standing around him.  But, each one of those people walks away feeling as though they have made a new friend. Then they go tell their friends to meet this guy – he’s really interesting. Of course, what’s interesting about this guy, is that he thinks everyone else is far more interesting than himself.

What kind of guest are you in the social media party?

Just like at parties, in social media, you get what you give. If you bring interesting topics and a willingness to listen, you might not have millions of “fans” but you’ll probably get more out of the party than the guy standing on his soap box surrounded by people rolling their eyes. No matter if your a business or a person, you get what you give.  The social media party is an outstanding illustration of this basic human trait. I sometimes call myself the “High Priestess of Twitter Karma” because I  try really hard (I’m not perfect) to give back to those who give to me – and I encourage my clients to do the same. Being a business doesn’t excuse you from thanking your supporters for supporting you. In fact, businesses who have relationships, conversations and exchanges with their friends, followers and fans are on their way to creating stronger brand advocates.

Much like the party goer with lots of “friends” standing around, don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because someone follows you, or “likes” you that they are a passionate supporter of your company. It just isn’t so; pressing a “follow” or a “like” button is a pretty low level of entry.  But, by following you, they’ve essentially opened the door and invited you to sit on their front porch and chat. You can sit and listen and get to know your “new friend” or you can sit down and take out your blow horn and start screaming advertising messages.

Also, don’t forget to invite your new friend to YOUR house on occasion. Let them see inside your company, your brand. Allowing these new friends to get closer to you, makes them FEEL closer to you. Social media creates all kinds of opportunities to create relationships and have better, rocking parties.

Which kind of guest will you be?