What Is Adding Value And How It Applies To Social Networking

by Eric Tsai

As a social media advocate I often discuss adding value to the conversations, to the communities or to the relationships. I guess I assumed everyone already knew what the term means and how it applies to them until I started to get questions from people.

So what exactly is adding value and how? Is it just an over-used marketing jargon? An illusion of a feel-good emotion? The more I use the term “value” the more I feel like it’s loosing its soul (I’m guilty as charge at times).

One of my favorite artists, the awesome Hugh MacLeod had a great piece about Adding Value with the quote, “The aim of “adding value” is a hard one to argue with… who doesn’t want to add value to their current enterprise? But it’s also utterly meaningless…”

Well, obviously there are many ways to look at it but here is how I perceive the meaning of adding value.

Let’s face it, most businesses wants to add value to the bottom line which means making sales and growing profits.

In sales, adding value used to mean networking in the best interest of your company or your career which is to sell, sell, sell!

Today it means helping people to make informed decisions, finding out their needs first and showing an interest to solve their problems not yours. The one way sales pitch broadcasting simply becomes part of the meaningless noise in a sea of noises.

The Meaning of Knowledge

In sales, either the product sells itself (more of an affirmation and emotional validation) or it’s selling via education (information and data).

A Porsche salesman don’t sell the 911 Turbo, they sell the experience of buying a Porsche (great products drives emotions). On the other hand, a Honda salesman sells the features and benefits against competitors like Toyota and Nissan (value proposition, more needs than wants).

In both scenarios, the goal is to ensure that the person feels good about the decisions that they’ve made (or going to make) on the purchase which leads to trust building. And trust is built on relationships from knowledge and actions.

The more knowledge you have, the less fear you have, the less stress you feel and the better you feel about your decision making process.

You could think of having knowledge as freedom from limitations and having information is empowerment. The ability to make your own decision is valuable because who wants to be pressured into buying?

Emotion Trumps Logic

Now you know the importance of adding value through knowledge transfer, you then need to know how to take actions with your knowledge.

Besides physically helping someone, the action part comes down to communication. And because emotions are the essence of the communication, marketers need to focus on the emotional needs of the customers at the time when feelings are vivid. This mean to empathize with your customers and truly focus on how to make their lives better.

You can not make people’s lives better if you don’t understand their lives.

When you solve someone’s problem, they’ll usually remember it not because of the facts but because of how they felt when it was happening. Simply put, memory is tied to emotions and emotions are more real than thoughts.

Now apply that to marketing and you’ll realize that providing useful and meaningful information does exactly that – it makes people remember you if you satisfy their needs by providing value!

This is why the increasingly Social Web is a great place to find those that are in need of knowledge (also why information product sells). When you need an answer, you want it now, you Google it (you can Yahoo or Bing it too of course).

The online conversation across all social networks are as authentic as it gets, besides the offline in-person engagements, because it’s taking place when people are still feeling the emotions dealing with their problems – what is, how-to, why is, who can…you get the point.

The rest of it is about the context of adding value, at the right place at the right time.

The optimal time to email your subscribers, the suitable LinkedIn group to contribute knowledge or the people you engage on Twitter – they’re all channels to add your value to the conversation within the communities to forge solid relationships.

Motives and Actions

The last point in adding value is the motives behind such actions. Why are you doing this? Why are businesses embracing the freemium model?

Most of the time the objective is to create brand awareness, build credibility and what I keep pounding the table on: to create social proof around the topics of health, wealth and relationships.

However; there is always a trade-off, you get free Gmail with all the awesome features of other Google Apps because Google advertises around your inbox.The same applies to most of the social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. You’re exchanging personal information to use their products.

My take is that if you’re honest about your intentions and focus on serving only those that matters to your business, you will attract the customers you want.

Like what Seth Godin wrote in his book Purple Cow, “the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Well, he’s right, everyone is NOT your customers.

And the science behind motivation isn’t as clear cut as features and benefits or even monetary rewards. Checkout this video by RSA animation adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA on “The surprising truth about what motivates us.”

The take away: Identify your customer’s problem is where adding value starts. And listening when they talk is your opportunity to fill the value gaps.

Think of it as facilitating the process of buying on their terms not yours. You have to create the right environment that entices people, and if you do it well, then they will show up and join the party.

It is only by adding value you will be remembered, reciprocated and passed on (via word-of-mouth).

There are simply too much information and too little time. Marketing messages are everywhere and people have developed ad blindness, seeing doesn’t mean retaining.

Are you adding value?

How to Find the Opportunity to Do What You Do Best Every Day – StrengthFinder 2.0

by Eric Tsai

I’m always on the lookout to seek new knowledge and self-improvement strategies.  If you’re reading this post you should know what I’m talking about.

Your success in your personal brand relies heavily on how you interact with others as well as knowing yourself.

For your business, it’s a reflection of your leadership and how you engage within a structured group environment.

In my article “10 Tips on How to Transform Your Ideas into a Startup,” I focused on personal assessment and provided reference to the StrengthFinder 2.0, which I recently finished reading.


I truly agree with Tom Rath that you would have a greater potential for success if you focus on building who you already are.

The book is designed to provide you with the latest personal strength discoveries and strategies for application.

The best part is that it comes with a one-time use online assessment that you can take to identify your top 5 strength themes.

Then you get 10 “Ideas for Action” for each of those themes giving you 50 specific actions based on thousands of best-practice suggestions that they’ve received.

Practicality is what I like about this book because if you want to improve your life and the lives of those around you, you MUST take action.

Key Points And References From The Book

The book was the result of surveying more than 10 million people worldwide and here are some highlights:

Most people think they know what they are good at.  They are usually wrong… And yet, a person can perform only from strength.” – Business guru Peter Druckers

You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.

Approximately 7 million people out of 10 million surveyed, don’t have the opportunity to focus on what they do best.

People who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are 6 times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than 3 times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.

Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction.  They go not only from the cradle to the cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.

Talent X Investment = Strength
– Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving)
– Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base)
– Strength (the ability to consistently provide near-pefect performance)

You get the point.  Sure, there is already a ton of books, websites, blogs, and videos on personal assessment but the StrengthFinder 2.0’s online test is what makes it different.

It’s a simple and fast way to find out how to improve on your strength and be aware of your potential and limitations.

If you’re interested, here is the report from my test result.

If you’ve taken the StrengthFinder 2.0 test, share them here or discuss what you’ve used that helped your personal development.