It is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Philosophers and poets have theorized about what it means to be human and to love. They have defined community, explained empathy and descried the connections we have with each other when we’re in love. These days it is often social technology that is making those connections.

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So what can love teach us about social business? Here are 3 familiar principles of love, oft examined by poets and philosophers, and what they have to teach us about social. At the end of this you should be able to say I <3 Social.

#1. Social is a Verb not a Noun.

You have heard it said that love is an action, not a thing. The same is true of social business. Social business is the way you interact with others. It is not a website, portal or even an activity stream. The options for social technologies abound and nearly all of them provide some kind of a “destination.” But the best destination is worthless if you fail to act.

This is what engagement is all about. This is also the part that makes social business more than hope and an intern. In fact, recent studies of job postings show that social media marketing managers are commanding six figure salaries. The work of social business is in the continual communication, engagement and interaction with your social audiences. It is not a one stop shop. It is not a set it and forget it solution. It takes work. That means you actually have to make it a priority and give it your effort. This is true even when you don’t feel you’re getting any lovin’ in return.

#2 Don’t Confuse Passion With the Real Thing

Infatuation is intoxicating. It is possible to make an intense connection right away. But when you wake up the next morning you’re there with a person. People take effort, energy and engagement. After that super-nova like flare of intense awareness and superlative interaction the hard work of maintaining and building a relationship sets in.

For consumer oriented social businesses, you want their continued business, their recommendation, their interest. They want your product, your service. You need to make them feel special. At the same time you need to make them feel that you are even better when you’re shared with their inner circle -- their sphere of influence.

For internally focused social business, don’t confuse passion with competence. Curiosity is a great professional attribute, but it does not guarantee great results. Make sure that you are fostering curiosity and building passion while providing appropriate and constructive ways for passionate peers to engage without becoming a bore on the dance floor.

#3 Active Listening is Critical

In love communication is key. Part of that is making sure that you understand what your lover is communicating to you with words, non-verbals and contextual clues. One way of doing this is through active listening. Active listening is more than simply paying attention. It is also testing yourself with perception checking questions such as, “If I understand you correctly, you are saying that....” Advances in social media listening technology allow us to test our social business perceptions as well.

A-B testing for web engagement systems measure the effectiveness of different styles of communicating our message. Ratings systems allow us to measure how those we engage with feel about the quality of our content. Sentiment analysis systems allow us to gauge how our audience feels about what they’re saying to us when they say it. Credibility measuring and gamification systems give us a way to let our audience measure each other and tell us about it.

There is no shortage of ways we can use new social technology to measure our audience and check our perceptions. What sets a social business apart from a business using social technology is that the social business is actively listening to its audience and checking its perceptions.

Love Makes Social Business Go Round

When we apply the principles of love to social business we achieve a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our audience. Love has a lot to teach about how to get engaged with social business audiences.

First, remember that it takes work and will not always be chocolates and roses. Social business, like love, is a verb, not simply a destination or a noun. Second, even though the immediate reaction may be intense, remember that passion is not a proxy for competence. Wanting to get engaged is not the same as engaging. Finally, listening to your lover or your audience is imperative. Without listening and metrics -- the business version of perception checking -- you may miss the most important thing your lover is telling you.

Social Business is about loving the one you’re with while pursuing the ones you want. For both you need to act, engage and listen.

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