Enough with the “social.” It’s time to get real.

We have news for you.  People want to be friends with people.   They don’t want to be friends with brands.  Not even yours.

Your customers want you to do what you’re in business to do:  create value.  That’s not about being “social” or having “conversations.”

It’s about listening, identifying an opportunity, and then finding a way to create real-life, realtime value for that particular customer.

You see, what’s really new and different about today’s consumer is that they are willing to share information about themselves.  They will tell you where they are, what they’re doing and what they need.  If you’re paying attention, that’s worth gold.

That’s what’s so effective about Pretzel Crisps‘ realtime “social sampling” program.  Their team  monitors Twitter conversations to identify customers who are “in need of a snack.”  @PretzelCrisps then reaches out and offers to deliver a free product sample, often with a follow-up to the recipients to share  feedback and start conversations about the brand.

According to Jason Harty, the brand’s director of field and interactive marketing,  Pretzel Crisps has built up more than 4.2 million earned media impressions since the launch of the social sampling strategy  in July 2010. Pretzel Crisps has given away about 3,600 units of free samples to consumers, “but the impact of the social samples is twice that of any event samples or product seeding” strategy, Harty told MediaPost.

Sales have increased 87% in the 4 weeks prior compared with the previous year since the social campaign began. That’s real, bottom-line value, based on a marketing strategy that leverages social information to create a realtime connection to the product you’re selling.  By the way, Jason Harty will be speaking at our #RLTM NY event on June 6.  (Got your tickets yet?)

Every moment of the day, customers are now sharing actionable information about what they’re doing, what they like and where they are.  And the more they share, the more likely they are to be a valuable customer, and a customer that can influence their friends, too.  Radio Shack found that Foursquare users spend 3.5x more than regular customers.   By checking in on Foursquare, customers automatically tell you not only their physical location, but also how frequently they have visited your store, creating an opportunity to tailor your offering to them, in realtime.  And yes, RadioShack’s Adrian Parker will be at the Realtime Conference in New York, too.

B2B examples are out there, too, along with some ground-breaking government and tons of amazing non-profit Realtimers. Sometimes it’s as simple as making information available to your stakeholders in the right time and place, so they can get it when you’ve got their attention, as New York City is doing by putting QR codes on its building permits.

It used to be that your marketing efforts had to find a way to INTERRUPT what the customer was doing (reading a magazine, watching a movie) and then convince them to pay attention to your message.  Good luck with that these days.

But today,  customers are TELLING YOU when they’re in the mood.  But only if you’re listening, and have a plan for how you’re going to deliver some real value for them.

If you’re ready to get real, please join us on June 6 at BB King’s Times Square for Realtime NY 11, the only conference that’s serious about doing business on the social, mobile and realtime web.  We’re filling up fast, so please register now for a day of hard-core case studies, tools and best practices to create and measure realtime business value.  See you there!