This article appears in Business London magazine’s London Chamber of Commerce Voice of Business column (July issue).

Secret Sauce
When I was asked to speak at the London Chamber of Commerce on the topic of social media alongside Ashley Rose Hall (Voices.com) and David Canton (Harrison Pensa LLP), I knew it was going to be a popular talk.

What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly the event would sell out.

Everybody wants the secret sauce of social media success.

Why wouldn’t they?

Colonel Sanders had a secret sauce for his chicken. The acclaimed 11-spice recipe made him famous and established KFC as a household brand.

Warren Buffet has a secret sauce for investing. His philosophy has reliably delivered shareholders dividends for 50+ years and made him one of the world’s wealthiest people.

I think even Apple has a secret sauce with their technology products and brand strategy. We aren’t privy to the ingredients, but we know it’s there, hidden beneath their continual innovation and consumer acclaim.

Social media has an allure and mystery to it that challenges some and overwhelms most. I dare to say, however, that social media has a secret sauce too and I’m going to share with you what I believe it is in this article (unlike Col. Sanders, Warren Buffet, and Steve Jobs).

The secret sauce with social media is people.

It’s using social media to either highlight people for something they deserve to be recognized for, or providing people with information that will enhance the quality of their life.

This is what people care for and see real value in.

Let’s take Voices.com for example.

Voices.com is a website that matches businesses with professional voice talents and is based right here in London Ontario.

Daily, they blog tips and ideas that make their voice-over professionals more successful. They also have a second blog where they highlight their professionals by letting them write testimonial articles about Voices.com. By nature, the blog highlights the author’s own voice-over services for businesses to learn about them.

The results for Voices.com speaks for itself: 25,000 voice talent professionals signed up, serving 107,200 online users, all generating 6,911 transactions per month.

What voices.com and other successful social media practitioners do is no different than what traditional media publications have been doing for years.

Take Business London, for example. They have built up an enormously engaged reader base by:

a) Highlighting brands and entrepreneurs doing great things in our community,
b) Providing quality information that makes your business grow.

The difference with social media is that there is no media company between you and your consumers.

And let me be clear: I’m not saying there’s no use for traditional media companies. Traditional media still works well in the right settings (for example, tbk Creative purchased some print ad space from Business London last month because we wanted to target Business London’s reader demographic).

What I am saying, is when it comes to social media, your brand is the publisher.

When you combine the publishing powers of social media with the methods that have built some of the greatest media companies we know of today, you are holding your own 11-spice recipe to watch your brand become the next sizzling sensation.

Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social marketing agency that instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming web marketing & communications event, click here. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here.