Before social media came along, marketers were playing by another team’s  rules on the other team’s court. Every aspect of the campaign was dictated by rigid formats of traditional media. Traditional media was a middleman who delivered your message one way and under strict conditions. Even the reporting you had access to was not really under your control.

Perhaps the most important thing about social media as a channel is that it’s not controlled by traditional thinking and methodology. Just about every new type of media that’s come along prior to now has been seen even by many its pioneers as an innovation, but still a part of the establishment. Governments jumped in as well to parent its development and control it. Because of all this and the technology required, the costs alone were enough to keep mass media in the hands of only a few.

Print, radio and TV all share a management lineage. Social media is the child raised by the village (all of us).

You now have direct access to your customers and potential customers and they have access to you via social media. This is what people like J-P De Clerk have referred to as “earned media” – you can reach out and earn the attention and the nature of that attention you get using your blog, email marketing, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. But you must earn that reputation honestly, by your actions.

J-P rightly points out that social media should not become your new PR channel. Don’t use it for spin! Use it to tell the real story, initiate discussion and be prepared to respond thoughtfully when criticized. If you want to engage your customers then be ready to engage them honestly, sitting at their table having a coffee and not from a podium in a press room.

In today’s social media world deeds do speak. It is no longer a case of influencing public opinion. Today, you have to earn respect by walking the talk and talking the walk.

Social media is the proverbial child raised by a village and it’s a global village. The child is growing and learning from us every day. Rather than stunting its growth by adhering to old-style thinking, open up your mind to the possibilities it presents to connect with customers in new ways.

Social media allows you to tell your story. If you do so honestly and openly and let others tell their stories regarding your brand and service, you will succeed with it. Don’t go plastic with social media because if you do, sooner or later that child the village raised will go delinquent on you.