Over the course of speaking to thousands (if not tens of thousands) of professionals at a few hundred events over the last 5 years as a social media speaker, I’ve seen more and more of my attendees mention that certain things that I said resonated with them. I’ve also seen more people tweet out soundbites from my presentations of their favorite social media quotes for business that I have given. For those of you who have never seen me speak, I wanted to create a resource by publishing these quotes and offering my own personal explanation and often longer story into the background of each.
In visual social media marketing fashion, I also created my own “visual voice” by utilizing images for these social media quotes that would be in the most authentic of ways: All background images you will see are from personal pictures that I have posted on my Instagram account.
Without further ado, here are my personal favorite social media quotes in alphabetical order. As you look through the images, you’ll probably notice a familiar looking logo with a new name in the bottom center of each page: The Social Media Center of Excellence. This is a new project that I will be launching soon to help businesses and professionals learn and leverage best practices in their social media that you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the not-so-distant future!
I have tried to include only those social media quotes that I originally created unless noted, but since there are so many social media speakers out there, it wouldn’t surprise me if you have heard someone else say the exact same thing. If that’s the case – or if there is a favorite quote you have heard from a social media speaker – please drop it in the comments below. And do let me know which of my quotes resonate most with you. Thank you!
A Blog Gives Your Company a Social Voice
I said back in 2010 that a blog is an integral part of a social media strategy, and the growth of content marketing has undoubtedly influenced the increase in blogging since I wrote that post. But blogging isn’t just about feeding more content to the search engines and social media: It’s about giving your company what I call a social voice, a way of speaking socially about your company and industry that is very different than the sometimes anti-social rigid requirements of branding guidelines. It is allowing your company to simply become more human in many ways.
Image: Oxford Circus, London during a European business trip. What will your company say on such a busy street to get people’s attention? Social media is no different.
Asking which social media site you should have a presence on is like asking next to which freeway should we put our billboard.
I distinctly remember being asked during a book signing event for Maximize Your Social in La Jolla, California as to which social media sites a company should focus on. If social media is about being where your customer is, so should your social networks. To illustrate the point, I made this analogy vis a vis the three freeways that run through San Diego: I-5, I-805, and I-8. Each run through distinctively different parts of the city with varying demographics. If you had a limited budget, next to which interstate would you place a billboard? If you answered all three, you have a lot of work to do!
Image: Taking while driving on Interstate 40 between Flagstaff, Arizona and Los Angeles, California. Not many billboards nearby this particular patch of highway ;-)
Before You Contact an Outside Agency, Look Inside Your Company for Great Social Media Ideas
The world is finally waking up to the potential that employees have as brand advocates as part of an employee advocacy program. However, utilizing internal employees as part of your social media strategy is more than simply having them help share your brand messages: It is about giving employees a role to participate and contribute to every aspect of what your company does in social media. I think this quote of mine does the best at embodying that spirit.
Image: This picture was taken at Facebook Headquarters. Yes, there really IS a Facebook Wall at Facebook!
Content is One Key to Help Build Relationships in Social Media
Anyone who has seen me speak or read Maximize Your Social knows that I have talked about the convergence of communication and information and how that allows businesses many opportunities in social media. At the end of the day, though, what are you going to talk about, as a company, in a world that was created for people to connect with each other on? The answer comes in posting content, whether it be something resourceful, playful, or sharing someone else’s message about your brand. This is why a content strategy is one of the 11 essential ingredients of a social media strategy. You could say that each house depicted in the image below represents a social media user … how are you going to start a conversation with someone who’s house you’ve never been to? Content holds the key.
Image: Flying over Foster City before landing at San Francisco International Airport on one of my many trips to or through the Bay Area.
Does Your Company Leverage Employee Advocacy? Your Employee’s Network is Bigger Than You Think!
I don’t know how company cafeterias hold 6,099 people like the one below does, but even if it holds 100, the potential to amplify your brand messages is 100 times that of your singular corporate social media presence. If you’re looking to create an employee advocacy program, make sure you download my free book I co-wrote with the folks at PeopleLinx: How to Build an Employee Advocacy Program.
Image: Taken at the Moscone Center cafeteria in San Francisco, California during Cisco Live! 2014. Imagine the potential shared power that 6,099 occupants could have in social media!
If Monitoring Public Conversations in Social Media is Spying, We Should All be in Jail
Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and often Google Plus allow you to not only listen in to public conversations but also to literally jump into them. Herein lies the opportunities for engagement and to build relationships with social media users. Go on, there’s no law against spying in social media ;-)
Image: Taken at Dodgers Stadium witnessing the amazing pitching of Clayton Kershaw with lots of public conversations that could be listened to amongst the 55,000 person audience.
If You’re Not Regularly Experimenting with Your Social Media Efforts, You’re Not Maximizing Your Social
I often show a slide comparing social media to one big experiment because who uses social media, how we use it, and the functionality being provided by each platform is always in flux (this is actually a separate quote that you’ll find further down in this post). This is why I always say that experimentation is an integral part of successful social media because you’ll never truly Maximize Your Social without it. I first blogged about social media experimentation back in 2011, and I still think it’s as important then as it is now.
Image: On my most recent trip to Osaka, Japan I was surprised to see that my old tempura rice bowl restaurant had experimented by adding a new ingredient, avocado, to their traditional fare. The result: Refreshingly delicious! The ROI of experimentation ;-)
Invite ALL Your Internal Stakeholders into Your Social Strategy. It’s EVERYONE’S Social Media Now!
Regardless of what department invites me into a social media strategy project, I always ask all internal stakeholders vis a vis social media to come to our introductory meeting. Needless to say, social media knows no boundaries and becomes an enterprise-wide effort. That’s why it’s all the more important to ensure that a social media strategy begins as an inclusive effort.
Image: Preparing to speak at United Nations City in Copenhagen, Denmark on Social Media for NGOs and NPOs.
It’s Less About What Can Social Media Do For You and More About What You Are Trying To Do With Social Media
Everybody likes to think that social media will somehow magically help their business simply by “doing it.” We all know now that that simply is not the case. In fact, without a social media strategy driven by business objectives, social media will simply be a time suck for your organization. This quote is a reminder for businesses to stay focused on their business objectives and what they want social media to do for them.
Image: Taken at St. Peter’s Church, Vienna, Austria during a recent business trip there. The church was putting on a beautiful light show in its interior that evening. I chose a church to pay respect to John Janstch, who back in 2008 said, “Social media is a tool, it’s not a religion.”
Part of a Social Strategy is Also Deciding What NOT to Do
I learned early in my professional career from one of my mentors that deciding what NOT to do is as, if not more, important than deciding what to do when formulating a strategy. Social media is no different. It’s not about being everywhere but making conscious decisions and avoiding social media distractions. If you’re not sure what you want to do vis a vis your social media strategy, why not start by deciding what NOT to do?
Image: My Facebook friends know that I play and love to watch soccer. This is a picture of me in my Adidas cleats and our Nike team soccer ball, getting ready to practice for an upcoming game. My position is defense, and deciding if and when to challenge an attacker – or to simply not to commit and wait for my teammates to return – is a constant reminder that in order to be strategic, I also need to decide what not to do so that I can expend that energy more effectively elsewhere.
Proactively Engage with Relevant People – Reactively Respond When Relevant People Reach Out to You
Most companies focus on the “reactive” engagement in social media, but there is a completely different side called the “proactive” one which gives companies the ability to not only find their ideal audience in social media (the topic of my recent Social Media Success Summit presentation), but also to proactively engage with them by sending them one of any number of potential social signals. Most companies are missing out on this huge opportunity.
Image: I use this picture from the speaker’s podium at the Social Media Marketing World before my panel on Twitter Marketing Success Tips from Brands as a good example of proactively engaging with relevant people who are attending the conference but also the importance of reactive engagement. Sure, I was able to meet some great people that attended the event, but there were more people that were talking and sharing the event online in a completely searchable way on Twitter. Proactively engaging with them and thanking them generated many new invaluable relationships. It’s not just about posting on social media – it’s equally about engaging in a proactive way from the results of your monitoring!
Social Business is an Evolution, Not Something You Become Overnight
I haven’t blogged as much on the topic of social business as I would have liked to, but needless to say we have seen this slow evolution from using social media as a new method of outbound communication to something that is beginning to be used as a business tool throughout the enterprise. Those companies that are furthest along the path in becoming a social business, though, have already seen positive business results from their social media presence, undergone internal cultural change, fostered a collaborative environment, have invested in improving employee advocacy, and have had support for social business from their leadership. People don’t change overnight, and businesses take much longer to implement change…
Image: It took billions of years for all living things (like this bird that was brave enough to pose for this picture in a local shopping mall in Irvine, California) to evolve … don’t think that jumping into social business from a tactical, strategic, leadership, and/or cultural perspective can successfully happen overnight!
Social Media is a Never-Ending Experiment, Because the Users, How They Use It, and the Functionality Provided by Social Networks is Always in Flux
Having written two books on LinkedIn – and always needing to edit them before publication because of the constant changes going on with the site – is just one way in which I have seen this ever-changing world of social media. When I presented on Facebook five years ago there were obviously very few professionals on the site. And what we can do in social media today just wasn’t possible until recently. This is the background as to the importance of experimentation in social media, and why I use W. Edwards Deming‘s PDCA as the basis for my social media strategy framework as outlined in Maximize Your Social.
Image: Taken with family during the Christmas season at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California. Universal Studio’s experiment with creating a Dr. Seuss-inspired area for the holidays is one big reason we ended up visiting the theme park. Also love their creative play on the traditional structure of the Christmas tree!
Social Media Replaces Nothing – But Complements Everything
This is probably my favorite and most retweeted quote out of all of these 25. It is so simple to understand that I don’t think it needs an explanation!
Image: Various plugged in devices at an Apple Store. The intent of this image was to mimic what a networked hub would look like. Social media, like the network or the Internet, is merely a channel or communications infrastructure that replaces nothing yet augments everything.
Social Media is Half Science Half Art: I Can Teach You the Science But You Need to be the Artist.
After I published Maximize Your Social, there was one critical book review that said that the book was almost like a “CliffsNotes” of social media marketing. That’s when it hit me that the concepts and tactics that I covered in my book were very much what I refer to as the “science” of social media marketing based on best practices gained from my professional social media experience. That being said, there is an extremely creative side to social media which is similar to that of being an artist: The need to engage with people. That other half of the equation is the challenging yet fascinating and exciting part of working in the field of social media!
Image: A divine honey soy latte at Kean Coffee in Tustin, California. Latte Art is the closest analogy to the concept embodied by the quote that I could find.
Social Media is One Grand Experiment. We Never Know How We Will Perform Until We Try.
I’ve already referenced the importance of experimentation in social media. Here’s another way of looking at it: You have a “tribe” consisting of your social media followers. What call to action will they respond to? How will your images perform on Instagram? On Snapchat? On Pinterest? We simply won’t know until we try, and this is why experimenting in social media is so important. Only through experimentation can you truly Maximize Your Social.
Image: Holiday cookies I baked for a year-end party. Cooking is a great analogy to the fact that you never know what wonderful flavors you can cook up until you try!
Social Media Isn’t Rocket Science; It’s Muscle Memory
I usually show an image of elephant balancing itself on a ball when I introduce this concept in my presentations after showing the varying tasks that a social media professional does on a daily basis. A workflow for a social media professional can look like someone trying to keep a dozen plates spinning simultaneously. However, once one gets accustomed to the various tasks in social media, it really is something that anyone can be taught to do. That’s why I call it muscle memory – the more you do it, the better you become at it.
Image: My Tom Seaver Rawlings baseball glove that I have been using ever since I was a kid and still take when I go to Dodger Stadium with my children.
Social Media Wasn’t Made for Business, It Was Made for People. Businesses Will Always be at a Disadvantage Engaging in Social
More than five years ago, when I introduced the concept of Windmill Networking in the broader concept of social media marketing, I said,
because social media revolves around social networking sites, businesses really do need to understand the social aspects of how users use these sites in order to adapt and be successful in business
Taking that concept one step further, we can safely say that social media was made for people, not businesses. When businesses operate in social media, they are on the turf of social media users. Understanding that disadvantage that businesses have, from making it difficult to engage at a human level to what some would call being discriminated against in Facebook’s Edgerank, is essential to being successful in social media marketing.
Image: This picture is a great reminder of the people who are central to social media. These are the organizers of #ConnectOC, a grass-roots group of social media users who put on multiple networking events in Orange County, California to build awareness and raise money for nonprofits. Pictured in the middle is me ;-) … as well as Maximize Social Business contributors Debbie Miller and Dean Soto.
Social Media Will Leave No Industry – or Company Department – Untouched
Some industries, like consumer packaged goods, or departments, like public relations or marketing, were the earliest adopters of social media. However, as more and more of the general public become users of social media, we see more and more industries showing an interest in adopting social media, no matter how niche they might be. I remember speaking a few years ago and challenging everyone in the room to name an industry that couldn’t use social media. Someone from a public utility stood up and said they had a monopoly and thus had no use for social, but it was a crisis just a few months later that made the same company one of the most active users of social media in that industry. Similarly, with the advent of social business, there is almost no department that cannot utilize social media in one way or another to help them meet division objectives.
Image: The 500 Fifth Avenue building in New York City, taken from a recent business trip to the Big Apple.
The Challenge for Every Business is That Everyone Sees and Uses Social Media from a Different Perspective
This is a lead-in to the quote that follows, but no two social media users are alike. Even users of a specific social network in one country will differ in how they use that given site compared to users in another country. This is another challenge for businesses in that how can you speak to such a wide variety of people at once and engage them all equally and effectively?
Image: Mount Fuji in the winter as seen from inside a Shinkansen bullet train. In Japan, Facebook has become the social networking site for professionals and thus the “LinkedIn of Japan.”
There is No Cookie Cutter Approach to Social Media
Hopefully this social media quote requires no explanation. By the way, I read this quote in the blogosphere a long time ago in 2009 or 2010, so I hope the author of said blog post will comment and take ownership ;-)
Image: Actual cookies of social media icons given away to guests at the Genworth Canada booth I spoke at at the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) conference in Toronto.
Why Should You Be on Google Plus? Is Google Important to Your Business?
I still hear about companies who say that their audience is not on Google Plus and it therefore has no value to them. Does it matter if your friends use Google Plus or not? Google Plus not only has its own unique community like any other social network, but more importantly it is the “social layer” that ties together the digital footprint of all of Google’s services. So, if Google is important to your business, shouldn’t verifying and integrating your digital properties by joining Google Plus and engaging with the community there just as you do on other social networks be important to your business?
Image: A picture of my Samsung Galaxy S4 taken right after I switched over from my iPhone 5. Anytime you “+1” an app in the Android Play Store, you are conducting an action through Google Plus, although most users probably don’t realize it.
Without a Social Media Strategy, You’re Posting in the Blind
When I talk about the PDCA cycle and social media strategy in my presentations, I talk about how most companies are really good at the “D” or doing part of social, but they never had a “P” or plan and thus don’t know what to “C” or check to know whether or not they are achieving what objective they should have had. There can be no room for improvement either, because such a social media program was never aligned with business objectives in the first place. It’s as if the social media program existed in a blind silo – or the company was simply posting into the blind…
Image: A staircase which leads to a walkway which leads to the ocean in Osaka, Japan. That sea is the huge unknown that will toss your boat around in unless you have a firm vision, map, and compass to lead you on your journey.
You Need to Add Voice to Your Branding Guideline
Social media users will judge your company based on the language, tone, and choice of words you make in your social media messaging. The challenge is that, while most companies have branding guidelines, their tone does not take social media into account and are instead based on traditional web copy standards. Social media requires every company to find their own “voice,” and adding to the complexity of the challenge is that now companies also need to establish a “visual voice.”
Image: My wife tends to get creative with her desserts for our year-end party. If these marshmallow snowmen could talk, they would be judged purely by what they say, right? Your company’s social media accounts are no different.
You’re NEVER Too Late to Get Started on Any Given Social Media Site
Although I have listed these 25 social media quotes for business in alphabetical order, this quote is a great way to finish off this blog post. If last year we saw the emergence of Snapchat, now we are witnessing the growth of Ello. Some may be thinking they need to rush into social networks, but my advice is quite the contrary. I’ll never forget joining Twitter in late 2008 thinking I was late to the party. The same for Facebook in early 2009. No, you’re never too late to join any of these social networking sites, although you always need to understand the unique characteristics that each community has and learn to leverage them.
Image: This is a picture of a scenic tunnel in the community I live in in Irvine, California. Just as in this picture, there IS light at the end of the social media tunnel for those just starting on the journey…
So, what are you waiting for? Which social media authors, speakers, and bloggers’ quotes, or social media for business quotes listed above, have inspired YOU?