If there’s one thing that irks me, it’s intimidation. When someone addresses a group, wagging a finger and pontificating about something that every one present should be doing, I cringe.
Unfortunately, the knowledge gap when it comes to social media and inbound marketing provides many opportunities for people who like to preach, threaten, and intimidate.
Businesses do need to get on the internet bus. If you want/need to sell to others for just about any purpose, it’s certainly true that the web is the way. It may even be true that there’s some urgency: not taking advantage of the internet could leave you invisible.
But once we agree on that basic concept, there is no use of the web that works for everyone.
If you dictate that blogs, videos, Twitter, LinkedIn, emails, or any other single tool (or specific combination of tools) in the immense array of available technologies is essential to internet success, you’re selling snake oil. Every situation is unique; every set of tools must be custom-selected.
Traditional marketing relied on intimidation, but the internet demands more of us. It’s too obvious when you’re trying to intimidate. The web works best when we humanely help. Whole different ballgame.
Sometimes I wonder if the term, social media is a misnomer. When I first encountered it, I thought the label sounded frivolous. According to Wikipedia, ”Businesses may refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM).”
Many of us used to suffer under the delusion that SM was expressly not about business, it was where we could ‘be ourselves’ and ‘share with friends.’ But that was far more hype than truth. For one thing, you have to be guarded about everything you say online, lest it come back to haunt you. And for another, sharing with ‘friends’ is now cast in terms of power and influence instead of giving and receiving with care.
SM is about consumers more than friends. It’s a way to supply business with data, proof, and connection. With print processes impossibly expensive on every level, without SM, business could no longer market or communicate.
Before you attack such statements, understand that this is not a bad thing. I’m not saying that we’ve simply been manipulated by evil corporations. I am saying we agreed to take responsibility for making our world. We entered into dialog with not only business but one another. Social media is about social re-organization.
I’m sad to write this post. Not long ago, I proclaimed the wonders of a new blogging resource called triberr.com. And indeed, the app served me very well for several months. But now, because of a condition of Twitter’s Terms of Service, Triberr no longer “automagically” re-tweets the posts of tribe members. Suddenly, RTs must be manually triggered.
Okay, so the Triberr site remains a central location for viewing the posts of my tribe fellows, but the main point was to easily gain visibility for my blog in a mutually trusting, profitable way with a select group of like-minded souls. I was benefiting from the rubber stamp of a very small group to amplify my voice, and likewise to amplify theirs, with no extra effort on my part.
That capability no longer exists.
No, I did not read every post I re-tweeted, but I was well-prepared to defend its author. I don’t have to know every Yeats poem to know every work of his is worth reading.
TOS. Bah. Another lovely opportunity turned sour because of abuse and over-use. The app developers are promising all kinds of value-adds, but somehow the thrill is gone. The future? Well, we’ll see …
At a local networking session today, the speaker stated that in the past ten years we’ve let technology get in the way of relationships. He despises social media for this. He says we should’ve been using technology to improve relationships but we have instead neglected ‘true’ relationships for the ‘shallow’ online ones.
If his claims are true for any of us, we should take serious heed, because surely the quality of relationships matters most.
Yet the reason I 110% disagree with this speaker is that I have been equally respected, and equally dissed, by online and offline liaisons. As I tell classes in inbound marketing, online relationships are exactly the same as in-person networking: they just use a different medium of communication.
In-person, you speak; online, you write. Does that make online communications superficial? Well, yes, if you’re illiterate. But not if writing (or making videos, photographs, audios, etc.) is within your skill set.
I’ve made many highly meaningful connections via the internet. These are people that help my life every day. They’re not intimates like my family, but they are as close as most I know locally. Too bad this incredible opportunity is still ignored by many change makers.
I believe the ideals of internet architects at the beginning of the interactive web (ca. 2004-5) centered on an unprecedented super-democracy, in which all voices were equally valued and equally offered. It was thought that this wide open dialog would reveal an awesome new future.
But now we know that, while the web does indeed open up a wonderland of possibilities, it is still not enough to make the dumb speak. Like the proverbial horse to water, while digital technology provides all the tools (most of them for free), you can bring a soul to free expression, but you cannot make it speak.
While a few blogs attract a lot of commentary, most do not. Lurkers outnumber commenters by a mile.
I think the pervading reluctance to express is a core issue for us in the 21st century. I’m pained that commenting or updating generally is a struggle for most people. It’s sad how great our fear is, how desperately we avoid risk.
But enough whining. There are other uses for blogging besides conversation. And I’m no exemplary conversationalist myself.
Still, I hope we all keep working on listening more deeply and responding more readily. It’s what’s meant to be.
Twice today I read the statement that YouTube is the second most used search engine next to Google.
On the web, there is just one ultimate rule: the search engines have to be able to find you.
Imagine being a book in a library that somehow did not get cataloged. It’s a huge library, with a few million books. That un-cataloged volume is lost forever. Apply the same logic in the context of the web, on a scale that dwarfs a library. You can see that cataloging, tagging, keywords begin to make sense. Yes, it’s important to create awesome content, but it’s even more important to label it properly. Without the appropriate tags, you’re a hair in a haystack.
But all that amounts to nothing more than the same drivel I always perpetuate to keep me from admitting that making videos is absolutely the next thing I must do in my education about social media. I need to do it and quit just talking about it. Write a script, practice, get the lighting right. It’s not rocket science.
Why do I so often avoid doing the one thing that would really make a difference?
Look out, peeps. Video could happen.
I signed up for another course from VAclassroom, com, my venerable teachers of yore. It’s a refresher course in social networking as a service.
My last class with Craig Cannings and staff was over a year ago. I expect the future holds many more of these professional development courses. Social media is a constantly evolving chameleon. It’s fun to imagine what the future will look like in the cyber realms. Touch screens appearing instantly in response to mere thought? Micro-chips implanted in our brains?
I noticed that colleague Ken Mueller published a post today reminding us of the importance of looking back, and seeing how far you’ve progressed. He says, “Don’t ever rest on your laurels or think that you’ve ‘arrived.’ There is no such thing as ‘I have arrived.’”
As we barrel on into the new, happily embracing every new bauble and gadget, we’d do well to make a habit of returning to roots. Why is social media important, what are the real-life goals that may be satisfied through internet activities, how does relationship building benefit your business?
As our new medium for communications, the internet is endlessly entertaining. For long term value, however, it must also make sense.
What is Ninja marketing?
I suspect it’s lithe, almost invisible, flexible, breathtaking, and infinitely sensitive. Doesn’t that sound like a Ninja to you?
An earlier generation might have labeled the type a samurai.
What gives this person power? Her command of those five attributes. She is:
Lithe: Dedicated to improvement, a kaizen sort of approach. Never repeating routines but always discovering newness.
Almost invisible: The Ninja operates in the shadows, dressed in black, like a Japanese Bunraku puppeteer.
Flexible: Nimble of mind as well as body, the Ninja marketer plans, devotes to the plan, and then knows when to change the plan.
Breathtaking: You know, it’s that “Be remarkable” thing that Seth Godin is always talking about.
Infinitely sensitive: This attribute was what motivated this blog post. A Ninja marketer listens with her whole being; she can tell when to speak and when to hear. Most of all, she knows that the way to look good is to make the other guy look good.
The Ninja marketer, if nothing else, lives by the faith that focus on the other pays and pays and pays. It’s a rule that works in social media, especially. Respond to realties; give where you’re needed.
Tipped off by a savvy local business owner, I looked into QR the other day. If you’re not familiar with the technology, QR (Quick Response) is a barcode-like icon that can be ‘read’ by a smart phone, sending the visitor to a designated web page.
Home-bound geek that I am, I’m ignorant of most mobile technologies, which is why I missed the QR phenom. I don’t even own a smart phone. But it’s evident to me that the internet / real world interface that QR provides is more awesome than the average digital advance.
For the first time, with QR the brick and mortar street scene is blended seamlessly with internet data. A restaurant’s menus, specials, and reviews can be shown when the passerby scans a code affixed to the front window.
Or – how about this – your QR code printed on your business card lets the viewer instantly see your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or whatever you web page you want to show them.
Seems to me the QR function is a giant step to the future (though it’s been around since 1994, apparently!) Want a step-by-step tutorial? See this excellent video by my esteemed colleague, Janine Gregor.
If you read the news, you know a primary line of defense from Middle Eastern rulers desperate to maintain their authority in these revolutionary days is to cut off access to the internet. Targeting social networks, these beleaguered governments are caught in a contradiction. They abhor the democracy of social media but also recognize the power of leading communicators like Facebook and Twitter. They want to deny the very existence of social vehicles and at the same time they know the web represents the single greatest threat to their dictatorships.
It’s like insisting on finishing your drink even though the house is on fire.
When reality counters your expectations and desires, can you bend? Or do you hold on to your long-accustomed dictatorships?
Small businesses are models of productivity that are most open to change, most able to adapt quickly to new technologies, political realities, economic constraints, and all the tools involved in doing business. Yet many a small business owner operates more like a stuck-in-mud dictator than a ninja.
What’s the difference? Dictators think, “If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough.” Ninjas think, “If it’s good enough, it’s not the best.”
Social media is evolution in person.