If you want to play stickball, you have to engage the other kids on the block

Aside from the judo analogy present in our book Social Media Judo, I like to think of social media as something akin to New York City street games: stick ball, slap ball, stoop ball, etc.  Growing up in New York, I remember what it was like not  having a lot of space or expensive sports equipment at my disposal.  Therefore a simple pink rubber ball, a broomstick and a relatively quiet street became a playground where epic games were won and lost.

In the same way that a ball and stick plus ingenuity leads a kid from the streets of New York City to get outside and play stickball, social media can give your small business a big opportunity to get outside and competitively market your products or services.  But the key ingredient in stick ball is not just the ball or stick, it is the community – the other kids.  If you don’t have other kids to play with, your options are limited.  Once you begin to include the other kids on the block, you begin to find out who the best players are and who knows how to make a game into a sport, etc.  You can best leverage their skills and get them on your team.

The same is true when you engage the social media community.  You can create all the potentially “viral” videos, online contests and programs you want, but unless the community is involved, these will most likely have limited success and seem artificial.  You won’t see that precious ROI you have been striving to capture.  If you want your social media programs to get traction, you need to find the other kids on the block who will play with you, i.e. bloggers.

In our book, Social Media Judo, we talk a lot about bloggers and how they are essential to any social media program.  The bloggers provide the leverage you need to drive your social media program truly social rather than just another broadcast pushing out company messages to anybody willing to listen.  They are already a part of the social media community and know all the other players.  In our book we talk a lot about how to work with them and how we have done it to great effect.

These are the kids on the block who are outside rain or shine and willing to play a game.  They know the street unlike anyone else and they know just where to hit the ball, pitch the strike and, maybe more importantly, how to keep the ball out of the rain sewer.   The bloggers are the kids I want on my stickball team.  How about you?