Social Networking vs. Social Acquainting

I love the Internet and social media.  No, really, I do.

*cue 3rd grade insult*

“If you love them so much, why don’t you marry them?”  Maybe I will little kid, leave me alone!  Okay, I’m getting carried away.  To the point of this post…

Whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or the new Google+, social networks continue motivating us to connect with each other.  So much emphasis is placed on how many fans and followers you have, how many connections you have, and so on.

The social platforms we use encourage keeping scores and competing with each other on numbers, and we absolutely love that.  I’m as guilty of getting caught up in the numbers as anyone.  But if you’re not seeing great results with social media marketing, try this: Take a step back and realize the harsh reality that maybe, just maybe, no one cares.

Why doesn’t anyone care?  Well, it could be that you dress funny, but there’s probably a better reason…

No one cares about your social media.Think about how much time you spend on social networks without doing any social networking.  Think about how many fan pages you’ve liked.  Think about how many people you’ve followed or sent a LinkedIn connection invite, and then done essentially nothing to further those relationships.

I don’t mean leaving a vague comment on someone’s Facebook page, replying nothing of value to a new follower, or sending an annoying self-promotion introduction in a LinkedIn message.  People have convinced themselves this kind of behavior is social networking, but it’s really just social “acquainting.”

  • There’s no effort put into building a relationship.
  • There’s little effort put into building a following of people yearning to be led.

It’s like going to a networking event, handing your card to random people, ending the conversation before it starts, then expecting them to say, “How high?” when you tell them to jump.  You cannot succeed with this behavior or mentality.  Not in social media, not in business, not in life.

In the paraphrased words of Seth Godin

If you want to make significant changes in this world, in your business, or in your industry, you must have a tribe.  If you want change to occur, you must reach out and form real relationships, not acquaintances.


Apply this to social media marketing and I guarantee you will see huge improvements in every key performance indicator you monitor.

I recommend you check out the TED speech below where Godin explains tribes and why they’re crucial to success.  I know it’s almost 20 minutes long, but Godin is “the man” and the takeaway from this video will open your mind in more ways than one.

As a marketer, if you can build a sizable tribe, you’re on your way to the top.  After all, it’s no accident that so much emphasis is placed on brand loyalty and customer retention.

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About Jonathan Payne

I'm the Founder and Author of My Social Game Plan, where I've spent the last six years writing about social media marketing in an effort to help business owners and marketers stay on top of the rapidly-evolving marketing landscape.

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  1. We have to build a tribe of people who know, like and trust us in order to succeed in the soc. networking world

  2. Joyce Martin says:

    Amen! Love the way you wrote this! Its exactly what I have been thinking. Glad someone said it outloud! My networking list has grown so slow that I have had the chance to get to know most of the people on the list (with the exception of twitter…who are those people?). Thanks for the article Jonathan.

    • Thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed! If you look at the huge names of Internet marketing — Seth Godin obviously, Lewis Howes, Darren Rowse, and so on — you can see they have a very close-knit community surrounding them. Their “tribes” keep them going even through the difficult times.

  3. So true, a tribe is very important to have as a base of peeps who get where you are coming from and want to know what is going on with you, however i unfortunately have many interests and therefor many tribes… uhhhh

    • I have a lot of interests as well and a lot of different directions I’d like to go with the business. I think it’s a matter of sitting down, really concentrating, and finding out which precise goals you desperately want to achieve. Which interests can you truly not live without? That’s currently where I am in the process and there’s a constant struggle to stay on the path toward those most desired goals.

  4. Great video! I love Seth Godin!

  5. Brilliant article and message! Makes me think about that old saying “Quality not Quantity”! Thanks for bringing this to our awareness!

    • Thank you for the comment and kind words. That old phrase never seems to leave us, and I think it’s making a huge comeback with the continuously growing presence of social media.

  6. Anita Fiander says:

    Informative article and I really like the slant on Networking vs Acquaintancing! Seth is a genius!

  7. Great post! I really like the comparison between social networking and social acquaintances. It makes a lot of sense, and certainly motivates me to look at how I interact both with my followers and with those I follow. Thanks!

  8. All relationships have to be built. They don’t just happen. Good tips!

  9. I LOVE Seth Godin. He’s really onto something, and my networking has improved over the years. But it really does take “something” to keep those relationships together.

  10. Love this article and believe in working together as a tribe versus just “me.” There is power in numbers.

  11. Lisa Birnesser says:

    Love this article, Jonathan!Social networking is all about connecting growing and nurturing a family. Seth Godin, BTW is a genious. Love his work. Thanks for this post.

  12. Great, great post! And I love how you mention that it’s more than just being an “acquaintance.” Its’ deeper than that! I look forward to watching the video. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. You are so right here Jonathan, there is such an emphasis on numbers with the assumption that the bigger your numbers, the more interaction you’re having. Of course we’ve all sign the person with 0 tweets and thousands of followers ~ howevver that works?? I agree with you and Seth Godin, it’s about building a tribe. The art of doing that, however, is challenging – especially with all the noise on social media these days.

    • It’s definitely a challenge and I think that challenge will grow with the coming of even more social media platforms. It’s incredibly difficult to be an authority figure on every platform, so we’ll have to pick and choose our battles so to speak.

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