While the bold easily find their stride online, social media has made even the shyest among us into extroverts. Numbers tell this story best. In his annually updated Socialniomics video, Meltwater Social Media Summit keynote speaker Erik Qualman illustrates this reality: if Facebook were a country, it would easily eclipse all others in terms of population, and within that country, we’d find that 1 in 3 marriages starts online (and lasts longer than those that don’t).

So, we’re all online putting ourselves out there, building relationships. While some may last ‘til death do us part, others are focused on other aspects of our lives, from friends and family to politics, education, and of course, business.

The Future of Social Is Integration

As Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn continue to bring people together, Meltwater CEO Jorn Lyseggen points out that having every facet of our lives overlap on social provides an opportunity for brands, especially those integrating social engagement and listening into all facets of their business.

For a company to be extroverted, it has to look outward to make better business decisions, analysing data that’s publicly available, including social media. It’s what will increasingly enable companies to spot trends, keep track of competitors, and understand the current concerns of their customers. The patterns revealed become much stronger—and more current—indicators of what to come—and how a company can capitalise on that—than the data that business decision-makers typically used. Why look at last year’s performance to predict what you should do next year, when you can analyse your market in real-time—at a scope that goes far beyond your small corner of the world?

Jorn is also quick to point that the availability of this data underscores a need for privacy—and the recent impulse to reconnect with our shy side, both as individuals and as brands. By thinking of all interactions as inherently human, brands can interact with their audiences as citisens, and return to the heart of any comms strategy: increasing conversation and engagement.

“Where Technology and Humanity Meet”

A deeper dive into what Erik Qualman calls our digital stamp helps us negotiate a balance between our extrovert and introvert sides. He urges us to use the best qualities of each to understand the role of technology as we become digital leaders.

STAMP, an acronym that stands for Simple, True, Act, Map, People is a useful reminder to produce the best we can. As Erik explains it, the digital world and face-to-face world are interacting more and more seamlessly. He’s here to remind us that the same rules govern both: being honest, authentic, focused, occasionally uncomfortable, and undeniably human.

Keep the Conversation Going

Looking at top brands on social, we see them becoming better and better at expressing themselves. Some of them initiate dialogue, others respond. Some create communities, others join conversations. Of course, if you know how to balance your extrovert tendencies with the quieter skills of an introvert, you can do it all. You can access the best of all worlds by adopting the fearlessness of Erik’s pioneering spirit (see the tweet from Offleash above), as well as listen carefully and insinuate yourself into other people’s stories.

Highlights from the summit include examples of exactly how to do this:

  1. Jason Maldonado and CJ Magda show us how MailChimp carries out its mission to “democratise technology” for small business. Even the most ambitious marketing plans can be broken down to simple, human interaction. On social, here’s how MailChimp ensures questions turn into answers, as delivered by members of the support team in partnership with marketing:
  2. Paul Jones from Mary Kay discusses the challenge of turning 600,000 independent consultants into extroverts to ensure the integrity of the brand and the success of its partners. The key: balancing local insight with global solutions.
  3. With the realisation that younger audiences are “buying beauty” differently, Amit Naik from Shiseido highlights how modern beauty marketing is no longer about one-on-one interactions between brand and customer. It’s about orchestrating a full-fledged party. The ability of a large brand to pull it off depends on an ability to listen, publish, engage, and analyse a bustling ecosystem of influencers, advocates, and ambassadors.
  4. The party gets even louder with Nicole Allen from Lewis Global Communications who presents her agency’s surround sound approach to social. Because customers—both B2B and B2C—need multiple touch points before a purchase, companies need to build more integrated, targeted, valuable content. Her slide breaks it down:
  5. Going forward, will social media extroversion be built into every employee’s job description? While Sitecore’s Paige O’Neill doesn’t prescribe social presence as a must-have in hiring criteria, she shows us how employee engagement can activate a brand’s personality.
  6. Rounding out this roster of social media brand superstars, Dylan Ellsworth from Marriott International is just here looking for a date. Comparing digital brand building to online matchmaking, we’re back to negotiating what we reveal online—and what we don’t—as we facilitate interaction, engagement, and ultimately brand love.