Social media expert and author Carlos Gil believes in jumping right into conversations, especially conversations about your brand that are happening on social media all the time.

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"I could go on Twitter right now and type in a company name and see in real-time what is being said about that organization," Gil explains. "I could go onto Instagram and type in a hashtag for any product, any brand, any topic, and there will be real human beings posting about these topics in real-time that I can engage with."

"The opportunity is there," he says. "You have the keys to the kingdom right in front of you: You just need to go off and execute."

I asked Carlos to join me on Marketing Smarts so we could talk about his book The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Social media is all about people, so your people are your brand (03:45): "The reality is this: If companies want to succeed over the next decade, they need to pivot way from what they've been doing historically on social media. Because...social media from a brand standpoint today feels very much like it's just another medium to advertise. And consumers are starting to tune out brands on social media, no differently than how they have on TV, radio, etc., etc. Throughout [The End of Marketing], I write about my own journey throughout my career.

"I started working in social media through my own business in 2008. How social media's evolved since then, and even taking steps backward, I've been using social media since 1995, when it was AOL. And it's always been about people. It's never been about the brands. The biggest 'aha!' that marketers who read the book will walk away with is this notion that people are brands."

Create relationships at scale (social media gives you the tools to do it) (04:43): "You look at some of the celebrities I talk about in the book.... These individuals are brands, and now you have big brands trying to attach their likeness to these influencers or celebrities. The great thing about social media is that we all have access to the same resources. We have access as individual, personal brands and corporate brands to the same tools, but it's the thought process. Creating relationships at scale first needs to be the strategy vs. just using social media as another means to broadcast."

Social media is not a "nice to have," it's a must have (05:43): "Today's consumer is taking to social media to engage with their friends, to be entertained or educated. So the relationship between the brand and the consumer is something that is being overlooked by marketers.... I've worked for four different corporate brands in social media leadership roles, and...now I'm seeing it from the other side, running an agency that represents and works with Fortune 500 companies.

"There's still this fundamental belief that needs to change: that social media's a nice to have, but it's not a must have... I refer to social media as this giant digital ocean. My analogy there is that all of us are just creating noise, and the brands that have the most relevance and engage the most are ultimately the ones that will stand out. Everyone else is just sailing at sea, a little lost.... Brands today are viewed as places where people go to shop. But they're not necessarily being viewed (online at least), as a key part of your life."

Social media success begins with employee advocacy, and that begins with storytelling (09:17): "Part of [social media success] is, before having the relationship with your customers, having the relationship with your employees is paramount. Because if your employees don't believe in your company and they're not proud to share the content that you're putting out, then it's not going to work.... For any company that wants to get involved in employee advocacy, what they really need to do is assess the content that they're pushing out to their employees first.

"Pushing out a press release, pushing out your latest sale...that's really not going to cut it anymore. But humanizing your brand through storytelling by spotlighting your employees, by spotlighting your customers, the impact that you're making in communities—potentially around the world if you're a global brand. That is the basis of quality content."

To learn more, order Carlos's book, The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI, and follow him on Twitter: @carlosgil83.

Carlos and I discussed much more, including how you know when to stop engaging on a specific social network, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.