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Social media explained by a 9-year-old in one sentence

July 4, 2010 49 Comments

Not long ago I took my daughters to the Portland Children’s Museum – wonderful place – and I couldn’t help but notice this quote written on the wall above the clay making room. To me it distilled the essence of social media so I wanted to share it.

The quote reads:

When I make my art about a flower it is not showing you who the flower is, but to tell you about me.

From the mouth of babes! There are several powerful thoughts here communicated in one simple and authentic statement. Here’s what I see that relates to the practice of social media:

1. People reveal themselves through their interests, concerns and interaction.

2. We must listen to what we’re being told about the speaker, not just to what he or she is saying. (More on corporate listening here.)

3. We should respond in a way that lets the speaker know we see them, not just what they said.

As marketers we would do a darn fine job if we managed to pull off all three consistently. When we engage using 1-3, we automatically establish an emotional connection through which we can create a brand advocate. It’s so easy to forget that all the information, words, ideas, and images we share are really just different attempts at reaching out to each other. In fact, here’s a few great examples of brands using it well during the World Cup in a post by Brian Solis.

As with most things in life, this simple approach to social media is far harder to do. But lucky for us, every so often a child like Elyssa comes along to help us.

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About Simon Mainwaring

We First training and consulting helps the world’s most innovative brands tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, employee productivity, sales and social impact.

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