We had a great time presenting a marketing-your-business-online seminar to local small businesses recently. “We” was a foursome of internet groupies, volleying knowledge of best practices in a team effort to enrapture the student crowd. To our amazement, they were so willing that our task was easy. And this in a community that has heretofore been resistant to the cyber age at best, hostile to it as a norm.
I’ve been taking a lot of pleasure in watching the internet’s magic take hold. I proclaimed before the class that the web is their future. The most amazing part is that I truly believe that. I hanker for the day when my neighbors will all be looped in from their rural abodes around where I live. Can’t wait to tweet with my town. That’s not happening much, as yet. You peeps in San Francisco, Chicago, NYC have no idea. Lotsa places, tweeting can be lonely.
But maybe those sad moments of looking for nearby, meetup-able people on Twitter are on the way to obsolescence. Maybe I’ll soon be able to connect with the farmer down the road, the entrepreneur in the nearby big city, as well as the cosmopolitan in London.
Here’s a followup to my entry about speaking at the Rotary. The event turned out to be much as expected, though I was gratified that the group seemed mostly interested and engaged. At least one fellow was nodding off, and I’m sure many were simply confused by the information, but they were generally appreciative and they asked several questions.
I told them I considered their community to be a precursor of social media, in that their faithful regular meeting, continuous relationship building, and generous information sharing are reflected in social media practices.
While this is true, I admit to being more struck by differences than similarities.
For instance, Rotary Clubs are actually service organizations, dedicated to raising funds for community needs. These days, businesses meet to network in shameless self-interest; charity is usually a distant after-thought.
The Rotary group is exclusive, allowing only one representative per profession. Perhaps this is why it’s dwindling. I asked about efforts to recruit younger members, and was informed young people aren’t joiners, don’t want to commit.
But here’s the biggie. At every meeting, the Rotarians sing together. How many of your social or networking groups do that? It’s a definite loss to our wellbeing.
I’m giving a talk next week to the local Rotary Club. The fellow who called to book the date admitted that the group was mostly older guys who (he said, chuckling,) don’t have a clue about all this social media stuff. Could I just talk for ten minutes and then field their questions?
You betcha. I’m looking forward to it.
Not that these are potential customers. I can’t even count on them to be a sympathetic audience. Less than two minutes into my talk, I will likely know with dread certainty that no one in the room understands more than a tenth of what I’m saying. At the end, there’ll be a question or two, if I’m lucky, and I’ll take my seat to half-hearted applause.
But I’m looking forward to it. Those folk are only doing, in their accustomed tempo, the same thing we are doing in social media. They meet with devoted regularity, taking the long view on community and relationship, valuing the strength of the group both in its individuals and in its collective goodness. That they’ve invited discussion with me is admirable. They’re too old to do much, but they ‘get it’ on a cellular level.
There’s much confusion about blogging, that odd phenomenon that pops up whenever the internet is mentioned in the context of business.
You might blog professionally for many different reasons. But there’s always a central purpose, which is to further your business goals.
Contrary to traditional marketing norms, however, blogging is not advertising. Knowing what blogging is not can be helpful, along with an idea of what it is.
|Blogging IS||Blogging IS NOT|
|Personalism||An ego boost|
|Sharing plans||Writing press releases|
|Sharing how-to||Technical writing|
|Caring for social needs||Social service|
|Examining your progress||A confessional|
|Appreciating colleagues||A sniper’s hideout|
|Supporting initiatives||Denigrating the competition|
|Telling stories||Fiction writing|
|Celebrating people and accomplishments||A newsletter|
|Dissecting failures||Denying mistakes|
|Finding your ‘voice’||Your ultimate masterpiece|
|Communicating your mission||Formal|
|Recording your history||Academic|
|Building a community of interest||The same for everyone|
|Contributing to your field or industry||A money-maker in itself, except in rare cases|
|Exploring yourself, your company, and your intentions with sustained vigor.||Your daddy’s protective and bureaucratic way of doing business.|
Community is a word we sprinkle liberally around the internet, though I wonder how many of us truly understand what is meant by the term in every case. Social media is all about one-to-one relationship building. Get enough of those kinds of relationships going, and you’ve birthed a community: at least a community of people who interact with you. You could say, therefore, that social media is all about community. Meaning, it’s all about tribes; groups of people with something in common.
What’s so great about community? Of course, we respect the power in numbers. Large communities = forces to be reckoned with. Small communities, conversely, provide comfort and protection. When you purposely join a community, you’re doing it to gain either power or protection.
There’s a difference between communities and markets. Though they’re both groups of people who share commonalities, we think of a market in purely economic terms. But a community can be about any aspect of life. Social media marketing is changing the world by blending communities and markets.
That’s what makes it so revolutionary. That combo of socializing and business is a serious mind bender. The concept that markets = communities is radical in the extreme.