Changing your Social Media Status isn’t a Marketing Tactic

I’ve written several times about the things that can happen when you change your Social Network status, or use a presence tool like Twitter to update your community.  (See: Facebook and Blogs for Non-profit Recruiting Business Development via Social Networks, and On Social Networks Give and you Shall Receive).
At a recent conference I ran into Jeremy Epstein who told me this story. He got an email from a potential business contact, but had no idea how he got Jeremy’s name. The client liked Jeremy’s blog posts about consumer privacy issues, so Jeremy engaged him and asked where this person found him.
It turned out the man’s wife’s cousin’s dog died, and while looking at a picture of dog on Facebook, decided to explore the wife’s cousin’s friends. He saw Epstein’s status update – which was a link to his blog about consumer privacy. It turns out, client’s wife’s cousin lives in Jeremy’s neighborhood – and they are Facebook friends. (Jeremy blogged this Death of a Dog story here).
They start trading emails back and forth, they become friends on Facebook, and Epstein suddenly realizes this person is the Chief Privacy Officer of AOL, who has proven to be a good business connection.  Epstein notes:

“People ask me ‘Should I keep private and personal network on Facebook, and professional network on Linked in?’ and I tell them if I only did that, I’d miss these kinds of opportunities.”

Getting back to the thesis of this article – this is not a marketing tactic.  It is how many social networking-aware people are living their lives today. They don’t look at their updates as something they must do. They’re sharing with their community almost the same way they’re breathing. They pass along things of value, and that attracts attention. The attention generates connections, and they grow as sources to be followed. Eventually, those whose sharing is useful become community leaders. Recall my article Success By Blogging: An Architect’s Story . Mark has figured this out. So has Laura (4,300 Clients and Counting (A Twitter Success Story)
If you’re still on the sidelines about using Social Tools to Connect, this is another reason to reconsider. Leave your thoughts in the comments.