The industrial era was about building and pushing products and services to consumers. The social era rewards brands (both old and new) that realize they don’t create value all by themselves.

The social era is about connecting things you create, people who use them, and ideas that matter. To win, you must stand for something that matters. You invite people to co-create. You share without necessarily selling.

1. The power of connections..make the most of it!

The great social shift has begun. People, technology, and business processes are shifting rapidly. And only companies that are flexible enough to move with times will stay relevant.

The social era is here to stay. And businesses that can take advantage will succeed. Social media is a piece of the social era.

Delivering value isn’t just about creating a social platform. Most businesses don’t even use them. And their excuse: we don’t have time to post on Twitter yet. Guess what, businesses anywhere in the world are scaling fast…and social tools helping in a significant way.

Don’t just post to social media when it’s convenient for you. Post when your fans are paying attention. And don’t make it a one-way communication. Respond to their questions, comments and suggestions.

2. Repurpose your marketing message

Why do some things or products ‘catch on’ while others don’t? Marketing plays a role, but sometimes it just doesn’t explain viral success. How do you plan and execute contagious success?

Why does BuzzFeed articles catch on, but yours doesn’t? What are you doing wrong? Or what are you doing right at the wrong time on the right platform? Do you even measure?

The internet has become an indispensable tool for marketers, yet there are still gaps in understanding its role in shaping how consumers choose among popular and new brands.

How do you make your message spread? It’s hard. And it will get even harder in the near future. Information or even brand overload can be overwhelming. How then do you design messages, and information that people will share choose to share.

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.” Paul Graham.

People have choice. Customers are choosing what to watch and messages to ignore. There are now tools to block your marketing messages. It’s a lot harder to convert targeted customers. But it’s easy to reach them. You are probably not doing anything wrong. People are just tired of being interrupted.

3. Build an insanely great product or company

You want the quality of Apple, the trustworthiness of Zappos, and the likeability of Richard Branson, enchant your customers.-Guy

No marketing message can save a shitty product. Don’t compromise on your product or service..ever. By all means ship, but don’t value profit over quality or people.

“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” —Anthony Volodkin, Hype Machine founder

Relevance is the new requirement for doing business today! How does your business make a customer’s life better? You have to do a better job at convincing prospective customers to choose you. People expect marketing stories that speak to them. Invest in storytelling marketing that resonates.

4. The shift from control to collaboration..get customers involved. 

“Organizations that “let go at the top”—forsaking proprietary claims and avoiding hierarchy—are agile, flexible, and poised to leap from opportunity to opportunity, sacrificing short-term payoffs for long-term prosperity.” Says Nilofer Merchant, author of “11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era”

Involve your customers in product iterations. Take their ideas seriously. Starting developing strategies for unlocking, amplifying, and rewarding contribution from people don’t necessarily run the product development department. Consumers can be sources of value creation.

5. Why selling is the last thing you should do

Stop selling and start creating value. Start educating your customers about industry topics they will find useful. You stand the chance of building authority.

Companies like Buffer, HubSpot, KissMetrics, Groove are doing great at building trust and authority. They run some of the best business blogs online.

You’re not in the perfect business. Stop pretending that’s what the world wants from you. The real world rewards those who get stuff done. Those who create value that lasts.

And those who genuinely care about their customers enough to educate them. Consumer education transform your selling process forever.

6. A whole new meaning of marketing..get it right! 

Strategies that helped businesses success a decade ago rarely make the cut now. Don’t view marketing as a function separate from the rest of your company. Your customers don’t.

Marketing is how your website looks like. It’s how your employees communicate with customers. It’s everything your customers are doing with or without your knowledge or participation.

7. It pays to listen

“Customers need to be invited into two-way conversations where we can be heard and understood.” – Steve Yastrow

Give a damn. Many damns. More damns than anyone about what your customers think. Find what they are saying about your brand on their favourite social platforms and address their concerns. Don’t ever ignore them. And never argue with a customer. Even if you win, you lose.

People are going to talk no matter what you do, so you might as well give them something to talk about. Strive to be amazing and they will share the experience.

Use feedback to make your business better, safer, and more likely to please everyone. But always remember, you can’t please everyone. Strive to be personal.

Business has always been personal and about people. Customers will notice if you care and go the extra mile to do what you promised. Under promise and over deliver.

8. Start engaging..fast

The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough. Imagine if your company communicated really well… how would things be different?

Approach business with the mind-set of “What can we offer?” instead of “How much money we can make?” That can alter the very substance of your engagement with your prospective customers.

9. Be insanely relevant

No one cares about you until you make them — be memorable, charming, and interesting. Choice is a paradox. Your business is competing for attention. Why should people care about you? Why do you deserve consumers attention? How relevant are you to them? Will you still be remarkable tomorrow?

People want to be associated with brands that can stand the test of time. Are you doing anything to stay interesting or memorable?If you don’t get better, your clients will find someone who does. Be so relevant, consumers can’t ignore you.

You have a choice to create a business that creates value, involves consumers and collaborates in the social era or risk dying. Choose to be awesome and you will thrive.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (my free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.