Did you know Mark Zuckerberg originally founded Facebook in 2004 as an online website tool to help connect his fellow Harvard students with one another? Today, depending on who you ask, the purpose of Facebook could be many different things, but you can’t deny that it still connects people.

Instagram is a bit newer, as it was launched in 2010 as a fun photo-sharing app for anyone who had a cell phone camera. Today, Instagram has grown into not only a connection tool but a shopping hub, as more than 130 million people click on at least one Instagram shopping post each month.

LinkedIn is likely the social media outlet that has stuck most closely to its roots. Right at 20 years old, LinkedIn’s primary function today is still to connect business professionals with peers within their industry and connect businesses/recruiters with potential candidates.

Each outlet has evolved since its inception, launching new tools, features and guidelines in what seems like every week. But the overarching goal of all social media platforms continues to be connection.

A recent survey by Sprout Social finds that 91% of people believe in social media’s power to connect people, 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them and 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active on social media.

Applying social media to our industry can be a challenge, and I know it is difficult for many businesses to find the time and resources to invest in social media, especially since it doesn’t directly translate into sales.

I’d encourage any company struggling with this to think of social media as a connection, engagement and branding tool, not a sales tool. When speaking to virtually any PHCP-PVF company (distributor, rep, or manufacturer) the importance of relationships and connection with your partners is always top of mind. Social media is your vehicle to achieve that connection from anywhere in the world.

I see a lot of posts within our industry promoting a certain product or service. Speaking generally — and from personal experience — the self-promotional posts aren’t the types of posts that spark engagement. The posts that draw in likes, shares, comments and clicks are the ones with an attention-grabbing stat, useful information, an engaging quotation or story, a great (short) video, or even just an adorable or beautiful photo.  

This topic of bringing the human connection back into social media is something Alicia Branham, founder and owner of Bran Marketing — a creative marketing agency specializing in the PVF industry — discussed on her new Social Audio program and podcast, RealTalk with Bran Marketing.

Alicia is a great industry steward and friend of mine who continues to give 120% to helping PVF companies excel. Bran Marketing is celebrating five years in business, and in true Alicia fashion, the company is the first in our industry to take advantage of LinkedIn’s new Social Audio feature. This feature allows LinkedIn users to create live audio events where listeners can tune in from anywhere via cell phone, computer or tablet.

When she asked me to join on an episode as an interviewee, I was thrilled to be a part of this new connection tool she’s pioneering.

LinkedIn Audio Room, and Bran Marketing’s tenacity to start its own show, are great examples of the connection aspect of social media that I don’t believe is going anywhere — no matter what fancy bells and whistles social media platforms launch next.