Social media: the holy grail for “connecting” with your consumers. Or is it? How are companies like Apple and Traders Joe’s succeeding without a strong presence on social networks? The truth is these “unsocial” companies are actually some of the most social out there. In fact, the idea of “social” has been completely distorted within the past few years. Social should not be defined by what platforms a brand is on and how many “likes” they have. Social, as it quite literally is defined, is how a company relates to its consumers.
Apple may not be on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networks, but they are an inherently social company. From the functionality of their products to the experience delivered in their stores they are creating relations, not only between the consumer and their brand, but also the consumers themselves. When you buy an Apple product you are welcomed into a community; it becomes part of your lifestyle. Social media is not about advertising and pushing a message into consumer’s faces. It’s about creating an experience and/or lifestyle that a consumer wants to follow, which Apple has proven is possible without Facebook or Twitter. Not to mention, their products are at their foundation built to connect people.
In another industry, Trader Joe’s is building a similar community, although with a much simpler product. Trader Joe’s strives to provide the best and most unique experience every time a consumer steps into their store. Their brand is quirky and memorable and apparent in every product on their shelves. They created an experience consumers want to share through their products and the amazing customer service in the store. By doing this, they have created a consumer community of “influencers.” These influencers are their social media presence. They are blogging for them, tweeting for them, but, most importantly, sharing their story. Trader Joe’s does not have to be on social media because they have empowered their consumers to be on it for them.
You see, “social” is not about posting on some platform. It is about forming and enabling relationships. Social media platforms can be a great tool for this, but just because a brand is posting a photo on Facebook and receiving 1,000 likes does not determine they are social. In fact, many companies on these platforms are actually some of the most “unsocial” companies out there. Social is a company value. Each department, product and service must live and breath it for success.