A debt of trust

According to many, social media is "about the conversation", "engagement" and "return on influence" (oh boy). At the same time, we all battle our own understanding to grasp the meaning of all this. So what is it that brands need to do on the social web?

According to Faris Yakob, it's about one thing:

Brands need to pay it forward in social spaces.

It's called social media because it's meant to be a space of socialization. Where do brands fit in? Try to picture how to win a friend. Do you jabber about your own achievements and things from day one or do you listen, get to know, give a lot of yourself and build trust to earn the relationship? It's a "thank you economy" because brands need to get humble and generous and acknowledge the need to be thankful for everything consumers do for them.

If consumers are willing to talk to you on the social web, you sure should be willing to talk back. In fact, paying it forward is not about contests or giveaways or prizes. It's about understanding what people want, giving it and expecting nothing in return.

This is the difference between 1) knowing what you want (let's say, comments on your Facebook page) and giving something to get it in the end and 2) knowing what your consumer wants and giving it for the sake of saying, "thanks a lot for sticking with us". If properly done, the comments (or whatever your goal is) will follow.

Consumers owe you nothing. You're actually the one with a debt of trust.