This is how "advertising" is described on Wikipedia:

"...a form of marketing communication used to encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to take or continue to take some action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering..."

Eeek.

While social media does, in fact, persuade and encourage audiences, the idea that it should be used intentionally in that way to "manipulate" an audience to take action seems an affront to the very idea of being social.

Then again...perhaps social circumstances do often by their very nature lead to manipulative situations. From the sandbox to the schoolyard to the workplace...manipulation occurs all over.

Does that make it right?

The sandbox is really for playing, getting to know one another, learning and growing. The fact that sometimes one or another participant may manipulate another doesn't alter the initial intent of the sandbox itself. The sandbox is still a "good" place, a place for fun, laughter and friendship.

So is social media.

As users and as professional organizations, we cannot allow the fact that some companies may use social platforms for their own manipulative purposes to shape what social media truly is.

We cannot give those manipulators that power.

And, most important...we cannot be those manipulators.

Social media provides an opportunity for companies to build trust with their audiences, to be truthful with them, to provide their audience with real value that will encourage and support them.

Companies that recognize that have a great opportunity to create social platforms that will take relationships with their clients to entirely new levels.

So, think of social media not as advertising but as an opportunity to communicate with your audience.

Instead of trying to "manipulate" them into buying your product or service, use your expertise to help solve their problems now. Share your knowledge, and when they come to place where they need to invest in what you offer, they'll have no other thought but turning to you as their solution.

Don't persuade them with deals. Dig deeper. Show them the more that you are. Show them WHO you are...as an organization and a team of people.

You're not a "company" with deals. You're a group of people who have come together to help solve the problems your audience has.

Only you can do it the way you do it, and as they get to know you they'll see just that.

>Don't advertise.

Be authentic. Be yourself. Be real. And have fun in the sandbox.

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