Social media fans and followers are like new neighbors

Shutterstock_20760379 Imagine glancing out your front window just as the moving van pulls in at the house across the street.  Oh goodie…a new neighbor!

As soon as the moving van unloads everything and pulls away, you brush your teeth, run your fingers through your hair and head over.  After all… you've got to check them out, right?

Their garage door is still open and it's packed with stuff.  You start rummaging through the boxes and are pumped when you see the power tools.  You have a lot of uses for those!  You hear the door leading into the house open up and a startled man looks at you in surprise.

With skipping a beat, you look up and say, "Hey neighbor!  Nice to meet you.  Mind if I take these tools for a couple days?  I'm finishing my basement and…"

I know…it sounds crazy doesn't it?  Everyone knows that you don't treat a new neighbor that way.  The proper way to get to know a new neighbor is to take over a little gift or some freshly baked cookies.  You ask if there's anything you can do to help them settle in.  Maybe you watch the kids while they unpack or you offer to bring dinner over so they don't have to worry about getting to the grocery store.

In other words — you give without expecting to get something in return.

The same is true in social media.  When you get a new neighbor in the form of a Facebook fan, Twitter follower or blog subscriber — you don't dig through their proverbial garage, looking for what you can get from them.  You don't immediately try to sell them something or make them jump through a bunch of hoops. 

And yet that's exactly what most businesses do.  Automated DM tweets pushing their product, Facebook updates that are all about them and blog posts that are just self-promotional press releases.

No wonder most companies abandon their social media efforts and declare it all a waste of time.  Because they're lousy neighbors.

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