Experience has shown us how easy it is for organisations to become so caught up in the “minutiae” of social media, that losing sight of the Holy Grail – brand awareness – can sometimes be the result. We spend enough time in cyber space to be acutely aware of the level of “social” noise out there. We witness organisations big and small, vying for the attention of their target markets, implementing ever-evolving creative strategies to capture their hearts and imaginations.

Intimidated or overwhelmed by social cyber space, some organisations overthink their strategies to glory and then sit staring bemused at their stagnant Facebook insights from the last month. Others back away entirely, preferring to run for the hills and watch the show from afar than pirouette into the lions den for a piece of the action.

Certainly, social cyber space is one big hustle, and it’s no secret it’s getting busier daily. But what organisations mustn’t forget is the same basic principals always apply, no matter how dazzling they make the fireworks display. For social media to work its magic – and you’ve heard this countless times before – it all comes down to engagement. It isn’t rocket science, and it isn’t an uncharted new realm of “cyber human psychology”. Sure, consumers are cyber savvy, but they’re not space cadets – you can bet your bottom dollar the one thing that will always turn them on is quality content.

Whether you’re Coca Cola or the local doctor, if you’ve taken the step of using social media, you’re doing it so more people will hear about you, or else the bandwagon just isn’t worth the ride. It’s completely intuitive (when you think about it) to give yourself the best chance of getting people talking about you, you must provide them with content they care about.

Just because it’s done behind a computer screen or shared via mobile, doesn’t mean the same basic social rules don’t apply – it’s just made the process a lot quicker, freer and easier.

Think of it this way, it’s just the old fashioned word-of-mouth (on speed).  Just because it’s done behind a computer screen or shared via mobile, doesn’t mean the same basic social rules don’t apply – it’s just made the process a lot quicker, freer and easier. We’ve all met people with different interests, who can talk like spitfires and fail to sound out their targets before assaulting them with useless information. The result? We either tune out, make an excuse to leave, or endure the onslaught and avoid them at all costs from that day forward.

The same rules apply in social media– we pull away from brands that bombard us with redundant material because they fail to understand what we want or haven’t invested time in accurately pinpointing their target market. Don’t feel like you need to create the next Ben & Jerry’s or DKNY Instagram campaign, just distinguish who it is you’re trying to reach, know how to speak to them and take time to “get” them. Once you nail it, sit back, relax and watch the engagement begin. And the best part about online W-O-M? Rather than just being your regular coffee date, there are flies on the wall, hundreds of them, with lots of friends. One conversation can ricochet off into cyberspace and reach thousand likeminded peers with the click of a button.

One conversation can ricochet off into cyberspace and reach thousand likeminded peers with the click of a button.

Think of it like a dinner party. If you were trying to win popularity among strangers you wouldn’t host them in the tool shed and serve up Weet-Bix and apple juice, you’d bust out the foie gras and French Champagne and entertain them in the best space in the house. Your goal would be to have them walk away not just thinking “wowee, that was bloody delightful”, but you also want them telling their friends about what a great host you were. The same rules apply on social media – always give them what they want and they will lead you to the Holy Grail – brand awareness – by starting their own conversations about you.

It’s wonderful your 20 guests now think highly of you (first step), but if your goal is to have more people who like dinner parties hearing about your prowess, you need to rely on those guests to spread the word. It’s also not ideal you having to constantly walk the streets telling strangers “Hi, people think I host great dinner parties, please read my dinner party hand-book”. The way to really get the town buzzing is to have the guests of your last soirée do your “marketing” for you. When it’s coming from a source without an agenda, others are more likely to buy into it and ask for an invitation – in cyber world this means user-generated content, power to the people! That’s how you drive awareness of your fabulous dinner parties, the same rules apply on social media.

At the same time, when you host the dinner party think of yourself as Edgerank – he’s the host you want to impress on Facebook that decides who and what does and doesn’t show up in the newsfeed (or at the dinner table). This means you’ll be keeping your eyes and ears open to the guests in the room bringing quality conversation and great stories to the table, the ones who get the other guests excited and conversing. These are the people we all want at our dinner parties. You definitely won’t be inviting back the slimy or straight laced salesman who tried to sell a pyramid scheme to your colourful, valued guests. You want them to have a great time and spread the world, so you’ll be inclined to blacklist those who ruin the experience for everyone else. Always remember, the same rules apply on social media!