by Caroline J. Wahl

Over the years social media has become important to businesses, I mean just look at the number of users social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have. Everywhere you turn social media is there, apps on smartphones, hashtags on television shows, twitter handles on posters, and shout outs on the radio shows to their social media. The need to connect fast is ever present, and businesses want in.

SocialMagnets.net is a site that promotes working together on the internet to “increase social magnetism” and highlights influencers. Ross Quintana, Founder/Owner and Writer of SocialMagnets.net (as well as Owner-Consultant at Real E Smarter, Marketing Manager at Miami Condo Kings, Marketing / Web Development for Ketti Kupper – Conscious Living Design, CMO/Social Media Manager for Bonomotion, and Partner/Member/Social Media Manager for Accelerated Freelance), is someone these businesses need. He has a multitude of skills that range from marketing and advertising, to social media, strategy, and innovation, just to name a few. Recently, I got Ross to share his expertise in an interview via email.

CJW: Why do you think social media is important to building consumer engagement?

Ross Quintana: Up until now there really was no channel for consumer engagement. Most consumer engagement happened on the front lines of businesses. This interface was mostly with entry level employees, cashiers, and eventually outsourced customer service reps in foreign countries. Companies not only ignored the idea of customer engagement, but they pawned it off on often the lowest paid members of their business. It is no wonder there is such a revolution now with social media. Instead of using one way marketing to talk at people in hopes of manipulating them to take an action and then letting any engagement happen when there is an issue (customer service), or at the front lines (service reps), now the consumer can talk and companies are being forced to engage. A few companies are using this to their advantage while most are either trying to use it to market to people or trying to avoid it. Businesses are really the last to get on board of the trend of social media and will do so only when it is so obvious that they need to with the exception of a few.

Now to the answer the question, for the first time people can communicate with companies. The data alone is worth everything. Listening and then asking questions is a goldmine built on systems they did not have to pay for, build or maintain. Brand loyalty can multiply when you can reach out and talk to an individual. This was only done in the past with PR stunts where a company would reach out to a loyal customer and then publicize it. They are still trying to deal with the masses and see little value in their individual customers. It is still a major misunderstanding of social media. Few companies or marketers really get it in my opinion. With people switching and the noise of distraction, relationships are what cut through the noise and social media allows businesses to reach out to individuals. That is one of the important parts of consumer engagement.

CJW: Which forms of social media do you think are most helpful in building a brand? Why?

RQ: Depends on the market and goal of the brand. Social media can be used for many different things. For me personally I love Twitter.A love for twitterI think it is the most powerful overall platform for real time communication, promotion, audience growth, and delivering content. There are so many right things about Twitter. Other platforms each have their advantages but have many limitations so for me, Twitter has the least limitations which is ironic because most people think it is the most limiting in terms of only having 140 characters to share your message.

CJW: When doing a social media campaign, what is something you’ve seen a business do that made them stand out?

RQ: For me the answer is almost always being real and engaging with people. What you don’t often see is a kind word to a single person, engaging with a customer off topic of their brand. It is almost everything that doesn’t makes sense to businesses but makes total sense strategically. Imagine if your favorite brand commented on a tweet of yours or shouted out to you. What would you do? You would tell your friends, but you don’t have to because with social media your conversation is also broadcast to all your friends. This was never possible before and is a powerful tool to naturally create awesome PR moments and strong relationships.

CJW: What people/organizations do you follow to stay up-to-date on social media trends and why?

RQ: Well, I have tons of friends who are all smart and influential in this space. It also depends if you are talking about information, or engagement because there are some smart people who won’t engage with you so for me I tend to love the relationship side of social not just the information. To me it is a turn off to follow people who don’t talk back. Nobody is that great that they need to follow a social media ego. For me personally, I have probably 25-50 people who engage and are awesome to be connected with. That would require another post and then you always leave people out and they think why didn’t I get a mention. I will have to write a post on some of my favorite people to follow as naming a few people here would not do justice to the multitude of awesome people I am connected with.

CJW: What is one piece of advice you would give a budding social media specialist?

RQ: Learn, and don’t stop learning. Social media moves fast and is broad in terms of areas of expertise. Pick one platform and become a student of it. From there master it and test things then move to the next. Getting a deep understanding of each platform will help you strategize the use of that platform to reach goals. Also look for quality people and sources of information. There is tons of average information but not a lot of understanding and depth. You can find a thousand articles on how to use Twitter, but only a small portion of those might have real insight in them. Become a discerner of quality information. Then you will appreciate other people who have pre-filtered information with their discernment. Quality is what cuts through the noise.

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I cannot sum this interview up into just one point, because there are so many amazing points in which Ross makes. Social media is ever changing and there are a plethora of platforms but if you can find a platform that you love and has users that are willing to be social and share quality information, you will be able to look at social media through a different lens. As for businesses on social media I took away that, relationships are key and can provide the opportunity for connecting with individuals and creating something great.

At the end of the day, as far as social media goes, it is about how you connect that can lead to great relationships, knowledge, opportunity, and creation. A person and organization can learn so much from social media platforms, and I thank Ross Quintana for sharing his knowledge and expanding our minds.

To learn more about Ross Quintana:

Follow him on Twitter

Find him on LinkedIn

Visit his website: SocialMagnets.net