Social Media is an ongoing experiment. Both people and companies are using this new tool to connect with people that they have never met in person. The main goal of all of this activity is to generate new business. The million dollar question is how to convert your Twitter followers and Facebook friends into paying customers.
The answer, according to members of the panel convened on October 23, 2009, at the Trust Summit, is to build trust. In front of a packed room of tweeps at the Harvard Club in NYC, social media rockstars Chris Brogan, Julien Smith, David Maister and Charles H. Green, discussed the issue of trust and how it relates to social networking.
According to Chris Brogan, the relationship economy will move the future. The goal of using social media is to create sustainable relationships over time.
In his book Trust Agents, Chris explains that on the web, groups of highly motivated people within every circle have already joined together, helping each other reach a higher ground. I asked Chris, through Twitter, how professional service businesses (ie law) can harness this group to become clients. I am skeptical that lawyers and other service businesses can use social media to achieve this goal. Chris responded that you need to be a priest and build a church. What he means is that you should use social media to be part of multiple groups that will help your access each group. Your goal is to be in the center and be the priest.
The trust paradigm is not new. Charles H. Green lectured that you shouldn’t view business through the lens of competition. The purpose of companies is to serve society. He argued that competitors should work together to serve the public. Cooperation between competitors serves everyone interests.
David Sax, writing in Save the Deli observed this spirit of cooperation in the thriving Los Angeles Jewish Deli scene. Throughout the country, Jewish Delicatessen is an institution that is in decline. The pastrami is expensive and people are worried about the impact of schmaltz on their cholesterol. But in LA, the Jewish Deli is thriving because deli owners cooperate. If Nate N’ Al’s is out of stuffed derma, they call over to Greenblatt’s for help. You should do the same when using social media.
As Julien Smith eloquently put it: “Social media is still an experiment. Be curious of other people when using social media. Only by risking can we create greater things for everyone.”