Church socials were a big part of my life growing up in the rural South.  And, church socials had rules.  Frankly, all socials back then, whether put on by the church, quail hunting club or ladies auxiliary had similar norms.

You were expected to give, not just come to partake.  A pecan pie was a contribution that was always a winner.  And, if you wanted your donation truly notable, you could bring a churn of homemade ice cream to go with it.

There was a requirement to be civil.  Mr. Peavey and Mr. Hancock, always in a heated argument over “those darn republicans,” were required to leave their bickering at the front door.

And you were there to chat, not to pitch. The shyest farmer was obligated to speak to everyone present, even if there was reticence to converse.  And, the big no no was using this special social occasion to sell life insurance, real estate or raffle tickets to benefit the Lions Club scholarship fund.

Tara Hunt, in her ground-breaking book The Whuffie Factor, referred to the new norms of social media as whuffie, a term coined by Cory Doctorow.  “Whuffie,” Hunt wrote, “is the residual outcome––the currency––of your reputation. You lose or gain it based on positive and negative actions, your contribution to the community. . . .Influence comes through ‘being nice, being networked, and being notable.’ There is no room for bullies with lots of money. Money may buy you an audience but it will not guarantee influence.”

Organizations and sole proprietors, singing loudly in the key of marketing, too often view social media as a fertile venue for a sales and marketing pitch.  Their “conversations” can be little more than con jobs and sales ploys in disguise.  Yet, those that benefit from social media are those who view it as the living room of commerce, not the workshop.

Social media wisdom lies in applying the church social rules—be generous, be thoughtful, be gregarious, and listen to learn.

Tell me something! How do you keep social in social media? How do you apply the rules of church socials to social media?

photo credit WayTru

Today’s guest blog post is from Chip Bell.  Chip R. Bell is the author of several best-selling books.  His newest book (with Marshall Goldsmith) is the award winning, international best-selling Managers as Mentors: Building Relationships that Last.

Managers as Mentors is available on You can connect with Chip through his website at or via Twitter (@ChipRBell) or Facebook .