There’s a little diner on the block down from my office called Boomers. It’s a quaint little place run by a couple older than me (as opposed to older couple), John and Carole Taylor. The restaurant has decent food, decent prices and a good location but so do a dozen or so places within walking distance. Yet Boomers is distinctive for two primary reasons, both of which have everything to do with social media despite the fact the only time the word Internet has been used there is probably to describe the place where the cook’s hair is.

York Peppermint PattyThe staff is overly helpful and attentive to every customer and each gets a York Peppermint Patty upon payment.

So what does this have to do with social media? In a word: Everything.

Too many marketers are making the mistake of approaching social media from a selfish perspective. What can social media strategy do for me or my brand? How can we increase market share, conversion or awareness using social media tools? What’s in it for us?

Social media, though, is less about what you get and more about what you give. This is why marketers struggle to adapt. By turning the cost-benefit equation around and approaching social media by asking the questions, “What can we give to our consumers through social media? How can we enhance their experience? What can we put in it for them?” you set yourself up to accomplish all the selfish goals in the first place.

The customer, not the brand or the product, comes first at Boomer’s. I order a Diet Pepsi, which they serve in a can. Since the can is refrigerated, I decline the cup of ice. During the course of my meal every staff member from waitresses to bus boys to cooks ask if I need some ice for my drink. And then, at the end of the meal, when it’s my turn to pay for the services, I actually GET something for free.

No, I wouldn’t go to Boomers to get a free Peppermint Patty. But I go there because of the free Peppermint Patty.

Rob Key calls it Karmic Communication. Tara Hunt says by giving you get more. I say for marketers it’s just being human in what, until recently, has been a non-human world.

So ask yourself, “Are we concerned primarily with customers or costs, with people or profits?” If your answers are brand-centric, maybe you’re not ready for social media. If you’re all about the customer, try to find your Peppermint Patty and dive in.

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. Free! Why $0.00 Is The Future Of Business
  2. Chris Anderson Is Wrong. FreeDOM, Not Free, Is The Future Of Business
  3. Disrupting The VC Business And Exploring The Because Effect
  4. Better Than Free
  5. Why Are You Giving Away Content For Free?

IMAGE:Big Rewards” by trekkyandy on Flickr.
[tags]social media, marketing, advertising, free, economy of free, because effect, karma, giving[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://my-creativeteam.com/blog Harry Hoover

    Jason, you are so right. Social networking should be approached the same way whether it is done in digital or analog format. I liken it to when someone you have known in the past is looking for a job. You haven’t heard from them in years but once they are out of work, your phone rings. They want something from you, but have never been interested in investing any time in the relationship until they need help. If you want to have good contacts, you must be a good contact. Try to help people achieve their own personal and professional goals, and they in turn will be happy to help you. Same with social media. Some people and companies get it. Most don’t.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Double-H — Thanks. I love your example, too. If the only time you want to reach out to me is when you want something, I consider the relationship rather disingenuous. Good metaphor for the social media space. Thanks for stopping by again!

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  • http://originalcomment.blogspot.com John Johansen

    Jason, I like the analogy. One extra point I’ve been thinking about social media lately is that it really must move beyond just marketing. Using social media to connect customer people to employee people to work out what needs to be done can be a big win for your company.

    Some companies are getting this, like Dell’s Ideastorm site. I hope we continue to see more.

  • http://www.churchofthecustomer.com Jackie Huba

    Right on Jason. It still comes down to creating things in your business that are worth talking about. Social media allows those “things work talking about” to spread and scale.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    John – Agreed. Social media is much more about customer service and an open dialog that most marketers think. Put the consumer first and it will change the way you think.

    Jackie — Amen, sister. I’ve created something worth talking about. Jackie Huba commented on my blog! Wooo-Hooo!

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