Brands and best friends stand side by side. Social media has leveled the playing field. Brands no longer have proprietary access to media outlets, yet are given closer proximity to consumers.

With the ever-changing media landscape, not only is the stage constantly in flux, brands are judged on their content for better or worse. And social media is no different.

Social media is just that – a place for brands to be social. So it’s not effective or appropriate for brands to simply shout “Like Me! Like Me!” Pleading with someone to like you online is as tacky and uncomfortable as it is in real life.

How do you get people to sincerely like you? Content, which is a fancy way of saying good stories, great advice and receptive listening.

The only thing worse than begging is begging and bribing.

Coupons and special deals are great, but are no substitute for substance. If you bribe someone to like you, it doesn’t mean they like you. It means they like free stuff.

So, what is good content?

Lowe’s has created a successful presence on Pinterest by curating original content and re-pining other’s photos and project ideas. Their page offers sections on everything from Projects Under $50, Outside the Home to Party Pin-spiration. Many of their pins are unbranded and serve as pure utility, which is useful to the consumer and instigates return visits. The result is customers can count on Lowe’s to spark their home-improvement imagination and provide honest & stylish advice.

Whole Foods uses twitter to cover the basics, informing followers about deals and nutrition advice. But they also provide news in other areas relevant to their costumers’ lifestyle, like skiing and volcano touring. Not that everyone who shops at Whole Foods chases the latest magma flow, but the news is fun and interesting. They also do a good job responding to mentions while embracing both positive and negative feedback. Similar to Lowe’s, the end result is trust and usefulness.

Arizona Pro DJ’s is a great example of a small business using facebook to tap into the local community. The DJ company has successfully engaged local high schools and colleges by tagging schools in posts of upcoming events and pics from parties. They then encourage fans to “Tag yourself if you were there!” creating a hub for festivity photos. They also post music trivia, album releases and completely unrelated content relating to academic life, speaking to the anti-authority party lifestyle of their demographic.

Digital shortens the distance between us, but just because you’re invited to the party doesn’t mean you’re going to take someone home.