Is Your Brand Acting Social or Being Social?

s Your Brand Acting Social or Being Social?


Is your brand acting social or are you being social?

You might think this is just a matter of semantics. It might sound like I’m nitpicking, and you might think that this is a distinction that really doesn’t matter to anyone except people like me who do branding and marketing for a living.

If that’s how you’re approaching using social media marketing to build your brand, chances are good that you’d also tell me that social media just isn’t working. That you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to be doing to “do social media,” but that your audience just isn’t responding and you’re not seeing enough of a return on your investment to make it worth your time.

The problem is this:  Social media isn’t something you can “act as if.”  You can’t just decide to do the things you’re supposed to do on social media just like a checklist, do the minimum necessary, and then expect to see a result. As a side note – don’t get me wrong – I think checklists can be a very useful tool to help you develop efficient systems to manage your social media marketing. But if you use this approach to rigidly define how you should interact with people, you could seriously end up coming off like a fake.

Have you ever gone to a party and met someone who just seemed fake? Maybe they seemed interested in you only enough to start telling you about what they do or why they’re so great.  You probably came away from the experience realizing that they weren’t being genuine.

On the other hand, have you ever been in the same situation and connected with someone in a professional or personal capacity and you just felt like you could talk to the person forever? They had such great listening and conversational skills that it was just a pleasure to communicate with them.

This difference in experiences highlights the difference between “acting” social and “being” social, and it’s a difference that your brand must get right.

One of the key ways to determine if your brand has mastered the art of communication in a social world is whether or not you use social media as a tool to actively listen and respond to your customers.  One of the things that makes social media marketing so very different than any other form of traditional media marketing in the past is the fact that the communication goes multiple directions.  Traditional media marketing only went one direction – from brand to consumer.

These days, social media means that consumers expect to be able to speak to brands, be heard and responded to.  And to take it a step further, social media at its best helps brands to create communities among its customers. These communities are made up of people who don’t just engage the brand – they engage with each other.  And then the interactions in these communities further shape the image and the story of the brand.

If your brand forgets this reality, chances are good that you’re acting social rather than being social.  And if that’s the case, in order to remain competitive, you simply must change your strategy (and perhaps hire someone to help you make the transition). If you aren’t being social – at least one of your competitors will be, and your brand will suffer accordingly. 

Question: Are you acting social or being social? Leave a comment below!


  1. You make excellent distinctions, Edmund, and I'm happy to say I am social! I think it's very important to interact with people who have taken the time to interact with me. I see some who don't, and feel bad for them and the message they are sending out to the public (and their followers). 

  2. I think I have come to the conclusion that social media "popularity" is no different than what we experienced in high school. You may think you can count on having a really cool "look" but if you don't back it up with substance, you really never succeed. 

  3. Good article! Being social will indeed introduce you to new chances at improving your business. How has being social helped your business so far?

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  5. Being social takes work; I think that may be the reason that many business owners take a hit and run approach. I get a little frustrated with some people on Twitter who post interesting things, but they never respond to anyone's questions or comments.

    It seems as though many businesses aren't taking advantage of all of the features of social media platforms. A good example is the lists in Twitter and FB. I'm a big fan of those, because I can see posts from my network more easily than when they're in one endless stream.

    By posting quality content, you increase the likelihood that people will share; I share and retweet other people's posts almost as often as I post my own stuff. I find that people in my network will often return the favor.



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