What’s the Opposite of Luck in Social Media?

This article is in response to the majority of the feedback I got re my article titled “Are you doing facebook wrong?” It’s long, so feel free to skip it.

My regular readers know that I write back to every person who writes to me.  For a number of reasons (privacy being one of them), unless asked otherwise, I don’t usually publicly comment about those interactions. Today, I feel that I need to address a number of inquiries from different readers, which, following the above mentioned article, had one thing in common: the senders asked for help with their social media presence.

In short, they were all disappointed with the insights and consequent strategies received from the social media experts they hired to help them rejuvenate their social media presence. And since they refused to believe that they’re out of luck, they wanted to know what they could do differently. The following is my 2¢:

Luck, your environment, budget—these things are not completely irrelevant. But they aren’t the whole story.
Don’t believe those who tell you that there’s little or nothing you can do to you nudge your business into every day conversations. There’s plenty you can do. And that’s true even if you don’t have the budget to produce TV commercials such as thisthis or this.

It’s possible to do remarkable things even with a modest budget.
But how? Perhaps the simplest, and, in my opinion, the most empowering answer to that question was articulated a while ago in the book titled The Storytelling Animal, by Jonathon Gottschall. Here’s Jonathon:

It’s not easy to infect the brain of another person with an idea; it can be accomplished only by hitting the small exposed hole in the system. For the brain, that hole is story shaped.

While I’d rather call that ‘hole’ a ‘gateway,’ otherwise I agree with Jonathan (and have been saying the same thing for years). Thousands of people from all kinds of walks of life come to sneezr.ca every month. Why do professors, business people, entrepreneurs, artists, executives, actors, students, photographers, writers, journalists, inventors, you name it, come to sneezr.ca? Because of my ongoing commitment to empower people with new ideas, and because I do so by engaging them in a manner they enjoy: through stories.

Let’s wrap it up: In social media, and in life, the opposite of luck is effective storytelling. It is the ultimate means to engage the audience. Consider this: whenever we relax with our friends outside of the office, we lapse right back into story telling. We are at home with it. Storytelling is similar to barefoot walking—it’s all about removing the barriers, being authentic and in tune with your surroundings. Communicating through storytelling is like going barefoot: a simple and natural way of being. (We can’t be without stories even when we are asleep, as dreams are a kind of story).

If I were you, my first question to social media experts would be:
what training have you had that enables you to better understand another human being?

Some social media experts are quick to point how they have tweeted before tweeting was in. Others say that they were among the first to use this or that flavor-of-the-month gadget. But is knowing how to use the latest flavor-of-the-month gadget all it takes for effective communication? Of course not. So what’s the missing ingredient? In my experience, the answer is: superior understanding of human nature. Consider this: No musical training is required to understand Adele—her stories of  heartache touch the human in all of us.

Dec 18, 2012

Last month, I helped a business articulate and share a story about an interesting project with its target audience. It was a huge success. Did I mention that people beyond their target audience, people from all kinds of walk of life loved it too? How do I know this? It’s simple: because they talked about it. The same day the story was published, the number of likes on their facebook fan page increased by over 600%. And no, we did not ask for ‘likes’. We ‘simply’ shipped a true story told well.