Creating Social Media Connection

In our previous post, Creating Social Media Context, we talked about creating the second of our Social Media 4 C’s, social media context. Next we consider creating social media connection.

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Social Media Connection

Of course connection has to be one of the Cs — it’s really what social computing is all about: connecting with other people online. The key in this phrase is “people.” People connect with people, not with corporations, or products, or even with causes. To create connection that is real, strong, and sustainable, you need to Be a Person, and that means getting your people involved.

People involved in social media people are looking online for opportunities to connect and exchange information with people who share their interests, not with brands or organizations or products.

It’s not about me, me, me, the business with something to sell. It’s about us, the folks who are connected because we like the product or service, or care about the problem you’re solving. The community. Which probably already exists, so you need to connect to it first, before you can create relationships with its members.

Of course, a big thing to figure out is what will you do with the connections you foster? We’ve talked a lot about that so far in this series, and there’ll be more later.

You do need to think beyond the one-to-one connections we’ve been talking about. Look at it from the community member’s perspective. They go from site to site, and may have various relationships on various social media islands in the stream of the Web. But many of these connections are discrete — limited to the venue, such as Facebook, or Twitter, and not portable across all the places they roam.

There’s a recent movement to offer context across these isolated connections. Facebook recently changed the way members can share the experiences they have on other sites. It used to be a site could offer a Share on Facebook button that would allow a Facebook member to click and comment on the site. It was generally a one-time thing. You see a site you like; you comment on it; it shows up in your timeline, and that was the end of it.

Facebook has changed this to a Like button[1] that does a lot more, and introduced the Open Graph[2] protocol, which is a fancy way of saying a standardized method for members of one site can share their experiences, enthusiasms and recommendations on another site. The site that offers the button can set up a lasting connection between the member’s experience on the site and their Facebook experience.

Facebook explains it[3] this way:

You can publish content from your site into the social graph to reach your users’ friends. The Like button enables users to share your site’s content back to their Facebook stream with one click. In addition, you can integrate pages deeply into the social graph via the Open Graph protocol.

So if content changes on Site A, it is pushed out to all Facebook members who have connected their Site A experience to their Facebook experience, and will show up in their Facebook timeline, and in their friends’ timelines.

This is a very powerful way to connect the wide-ranging social media experiences of Facebook members, and serves to make Facebook the center of members’ worlds, which is obviously great for Facebook.

But think of the implications for your enterprise. We talked about creating evangelists in the series that starts with Identifying Social Media Evangelists. The new Open Graph process makes every user a potential evangelist, as their friends can discover information about their interests, leading to an interest in your site.

Several large social media sites have signed on to the idea, including the Web radio station Pandora, and as a result, Pandora users can:

  • See all friends who use Pandora
  • See the artists and songs that are liked by friends
  • Import their Facebook pictures into their Pandora profiles, a key way to promote personal brand
  • Listen to friends’ stations (thanks, Andrew Eklund, for the great Medeski, Martin & Wood station!)

Pandora makes it easy to make the connection, as you can see in the next two figures. Simply click a button, answer some questions, and it’s done.

Pandora friends music selection

Pandora friends channels

The Open Graph initiative represents a very strong way to connect the social media experiences of your community, creating a vast interconnected web (really) of information, recommendations, and discovery that you can use to communicate with potential new community members. Try putting the Facebook Like button on your site and see what happens.

Here are some tips about making connections.

Type of Connection



High Tech, High Touch Keep human Twitter, IM, YouTube, Communities
Two-Way Conversation leads to conversion Twitter, Email, Online Chat
Person-to-Person Reveal yourself Workers by name — see @cnnbrk, @comcastcares
Authentic Don’t spin Everywhere

Creating Social Media Connection is the 56th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 180. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1

Next up: Creating Social Media Community

[1] Facebook Like button:

[2] Facebook Open Graph:

[3] Facebook on the Open Graph:

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