It’s about People

Social media platforms were created for people to connect with one another and get social. Not that businesses can’t jump in on the action, they just need to humanise their communication. On Tumblr, for instance, you need to give people an animated GIF like a human being would give it to them, not a brand, basically.

In 2011, media entrepreneur, Sbusiso “Dj Sbu” Leope sold 20 000 copies of his album, Sound Revival Volume 1. And a large chunk of those sales resulted from his spirited communication and deft marketing through Twitter. He went on to fill up the Sandton Convention Centre with 5000 people for his Leadership 2020 seminar, and simultaneously became best-selling author of his first book with the same title by building hype and marketing mainly via his social media channels. But why can’t everybody else do those things as well? Simple. They don’t take the time to add value to other people’s lives before asking for their business.

The same is true for social media. It is easy to look at it as a business and think: this is another opportunity for us market to our customers. And, hey, it’s cheaper, too. Instead of thinking that these platforms are inherently created for people to connect with one another and that means for you to have impact, the notion of exclusively and continuously selling on those platforms should go out of the window. You’ve got to think about creating content that adds some value in your customers’ lives, and moves them forward somehow. Even if it’s a light-hearted piece that makes them laugh — that comic relief goes a long way in a distressed person’s day.

Dj Sbu’s strong point, I believe, is that he understands people, and he makes a genuine effort to connect with them. Sincerity and knowing that it’s all about the people he is serving, the understanding that those people are ones who uplift his career and put bread on his table, has put him in good stead.

The many things we do and create concern people in more ways than one. Think about a technological device — it’s intended for people to use. So, instead of being occupied at the onset by how it should function — don’t get me wrong, function is important — the initial focus ought to be on how people will interact with it. Merge the humanities, art and technology to create a phenomenal product.

Former Coca Cola chairman and CEO, Neville Isdell captures this point so well: “For any global company [and in these highly networked/connected times, for individuals, too], there is no more important task that to fully understand the culture of the country where you are operating”. And, another nugget in the penultimate chapter of the book: “Coke’s business could only succeed if the community where we sold our products also thrived”, he wrote in his memoir, Inside Coca Cola.

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