How does the axiom

How does the axiom "People Buy From People" apply to Social Media

By Amy StarkAug 29 /2011

Who originally uttered the age-old axiom, “People buy from People”? I first heard it from a former boss and he attributed it to Dale Carnegie. Last week Chad Pollitt reminded us again that “people buy from people” in his webinar with Nancy Myrland. It seems to be a simple enough phrase, but at the risk of sounding like M C Hammer - let’s break it down:Social Media Pool of Potential People


The first “people” refers to those who have a need or who can benefit from your product or service. This group of people have certain shared characteristics – such as possessing the wherewithal to pay for your product or service and a need for it. Let’s refer to this group as the “Pool of Potential People” (PPP). Once you defined your ideal group of people, you must then immerse yourself in their online communities learning what THEY talk about, on which social media platforms THEY congregate, how often THEY want you to post on facebook and what kind of language THEY use. There are vast differences in the social media conversations that occur among gardening enthusiasts and plumbers, for example. Too often social media professionals will proclaim, "Follow these cookie cutter steps to social media success", but it really doesn't work that way. Every online community is different and the successful social media professionals will tailor their activity to align with their PPP, not the other way around.  


There are two types of currency exchanged on social media platforms - Time and Money.  If I had a nickel for every instance I've heard, “what’s the return on investment for social media?’ I would be a wealthy woman. When you consider the fact that no one will pay you money before they pay you attention, the significance of measuring ROI in terms of time and money becomes clear. Nancy Myrland eloquently shared the same tenet when she tweeted, "You must gain mind-share before you can gain market-share."

From People

The second “people” in the axiom refers to your organizational voice on social media platforms and how it's important to act like a person not a corporation. While learning your PPP’s social media habits listen carefully to their voice and then share personable messages using that same voice. Your brand's social media presence is among millions of other brands vying for the attention of your PPP,  it will be easier for them to find you if you're using a voice they understand. This isn’t an easy thing for some corporations to wrap their minds around. Corporate executives are accustomed to well written marketing slogans carefully crafted to achieve maximum impact. On social media platforms slick marketing slogans are viewed with suspicion and no one will interact with you if you ONLY discuss business.  In your PPP research seek out topics that are not strictly business related by considering the psychographics of your PPP.  From Wikipedia:

In the field of marketing, demographics, opinion research, and social research in general, psychographic variables are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Activities, and Opinions).

If you are a social media professional it’s OK to consider your OWN interests when selecting  psychographic topics to share with your PPP.  When you personally are interested in a certain topic your interactions will come from a more honest place, and the conversation will flow easily. For example if 50% of your potential pool of people loves Star Wars, and you personally saw the first Star Wars (Episode IV) a total of 11 times during its original release, consider that as psychographic topic and quote Yoda every now and then. 

Don't be afraid to make mistakes because your PPP will forgive errors and it quite possibly will endear you to them.  Be quick to admit when wrong and don't hide it. Remember people will forgive mistakes but coverups  are rarely forgiven and never forgotten. Coverups are the type of things that "Live forever in the cloud" as Nancy Myrland mentioned in the webinar and should be avoided.