As social media matures, it becomes more generic and predictable. Which is not necessarily a good thing.
It’s natural for any system to level out to a low-key commonality eventually. But predictability is the enemy of marketing. In that split second of recognition that tells me I’ve seen this before, I tune your message out.
How many of the updates on your Facebook stream do you gloss over because they fit a recognizable formula? How many posts from given people or organizations do you generally ignore because you know what they’ll say? How many tweets do you skip because they’re from certain people or they follow a formula?
I have noticed that tweets without links tend to pull my attention. If there’s no link, it must be an original statement of some kind. This is refreshing and welcome. Your referrals are great, but I love reading your thoughts.
The increasingly sophisticated world of social media suggests that messages must become more attractive in one way or another. It’s not good enough to suggest cool sites and link to your own. You must devise an overarching strategy that builds a compelling ubër message with every post.
And every post must tantalize.
I’ve been privileged to attend the Digital Publishing Summit offered by D’vorah Lansky over the past two weeks. 22 speakers and an impressive amount of information about using internet tools to spread your message. Write a book and re-purpose it into video, audio, short posts, courses, webinars … the full gamut of content forms. Make your message available in whatever format your reader prefers. Your $20 book may become a $97 video or a $299 course. Same info; new – and slicker – format.
The concept of an entrepreneurial author is a new one to me and I’m still mulling its meaning. Nonetheless, one of the most dynamic speakers of the event was David Hancock, who labels himself that way. Despite his brilliance, I wonder about the deconstruction of writing, its commercialization.
It may be that Hancock does not revere writing. He seems to suggest transcending all types of media in favor of your message and the ways it can help people. In other words, your book doesn’t matter; it’s the message it shares that’s important.
Instead of deciding that you must publish a book, identify an issue that you can solve. The key is helpful information, however it’s presented.
I’m going to continue the copyrighting discussion because it’s definitely top-of-mind. It’s a delicate and difficult issue.
My client, for instance, is an author. She posts exquisite updates, but is relatively innocent of the ways of the web. We were chatting the other day when she suddenly realized that anything she posts might be copied and used by another person. This shocks and frightens her.
I murmur rationalizations, saying that an impostor won’t get far, won’t make any money or curry any fame. They can’t be my client, can’t actually produce on her level. Their gains in stealing her content are so short-term as to be worthless.
But we’re talking about a mother’s pride, here; the tender love of a creator. That some stranger should seize her babies … well, it’s intolerable.
This is eminently understandable. According to everything we’ve been taught, what we produce must be protected from theft.
But online we give a lot away. Online, our approach is the opposite of hoarding. Anything we post we are providing for free. Some things you sell, while a nice percent of the basics you offer as pure giveaways.
This new viewpoint requires an emotional as well as practical recalibration.
Like many of my clients, I’m an introvert. Therefore I both celebrate and abuse social media.
My essentially antisocial nature adores the internet’s offer of endless learning and infinite resources without having to participate in the F2F world.
But here’s the dark side: I am too often here to consume, not to contribute.
Online, declining to contribute is tantamount to abuse. Your consumption isn’t compensated; content consumed doesn’t result in energy. It’s eaten, and turned to waste.
An example: We set up a LinkedIn group for a local business roundtable. Of 20+ participants in the meetings, less than half contribute to discussions. I suspect the others are lurking, with nothing to say. Discussion threads are built by the same few group members, and then abandoned for lack of interest. It’s a shame!
I wonder what the overall membership to participant ratio is for LinkedIn groups.
Why do we elect to stay mum? Either we have no opinion, or we don’t care about the issue, or we aren’t willing to write and identify ourselves, or … ?
Sure, it’s difficult to comment, to contribute, to create and publish with confidence. The web has enabled us only marginally to express more freely.
The term social media is not well understood. Business use of social media, for instance, does not amount to an internet marketing presence. If you just chat with friends and family on Facebook, fine. But don’t expect your Facebook page alone to bring you customers.
Social media is a (relatively small) subset of online inbound marketing. And online inbound marketing is a subset of marketing, which also includes inbound efforts that are offline.
Think: a child is a subset of a family, which is a subset of society. They are all equally important and necessary; but each is very different.
For business, the key to inbound marketing is content. Once you have content, you can use social media as one way to give people access to it.
Additional ways would include building landing pages, posting on your blog, writing guest blog posts, sending out a newsletter, offering content to live networking groups and liaisons, and your pick of the thousands of other distribution opportunities.
Somewhat unfortunately, social media is the term the public has adopted, it seems, to refer to online marketing opportunities. Yes, your sharing should be thorough, respectful, and attractive. But it’s what you share that matters most.
We’re off to the beach for a couple days. It’s been a while. I talked to a friend yesterday about how you have to schedule off-time, creative-time, zone-out time. It’s not an indulgence, it’s part of being the best you can be.
I think it’s fascinating how often we can find focus by shifting focus. Do you have a question about anything? Ask it clearly, and then shift your attention elsewhere. Read a book, take a walk, watch a movie. More often than not, during these activities, answers to your questions will be forthcoming without further ado.
This principle is particularly applicable to blogging. There’s an ongoing tension between blogging as an honest expression of your involvement in a certain area, and blogging as something you owe to your readers without fail or lapse. It’s a professional journal as well as a public relations vehicle. So how do you consistently meet the demands of these extremes?
You keep your focus shifting. You give up control and let circumstances guide you. You watch, listen, and report, leaving your Self at home in bed. It doesn’t matter what you want to say: your testimony, your professional observation is the value you offer.
“The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue.” So states Wikipedia. Social interaction is further defined as “… a superset beyond social communication.”
At first, this sounds convoluted. Isn’t communication already defined as interactive dialogue? In what way is social interaction “beyond” social communication?
The definition also says that social media “… allow(s) the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”
Maybe it’s the “content” part that begins to make sense of these new meanings. Traditionally, communication is dialogue. But with the internet, communication becomes both dialogue and document. Perhaps the key to the web’s quantum leap in interactivity is “user-generated content.”
Conversation that becomes content is an asset, a potentially profitable investment. A few examples:
- Twitter’s #blogchat
- blog comments
- Facebook discussions
- niche forums
- webinar discussions
- FAQ pages addressing customer concerns
What about content that becomes conversation? Well, that’s what we’re all shooting for, right? The coveted word of mouth that delivers more than any other method. The buzz, the virus that we pray will take hold.
Communication used to mean dialogue. Now, online, it means dialogue as content. Dialogue as investment.
A client asked me to write blogs for them, entirely from scratch. They wanted me to create the editorial calendar, select the keywords, research, and compose the posts once a week.
Now let’s say that the client’s business is home remodeling. My business, on the other hand, is administrative and marketing assistance.
I can take your title and keywords plus a few thoughts from you, do some research, write with confidence while empathizing with readers, and publish outstanding posts that come across authentically.
On such a level, blogging can be outsourced.
But many misunderstand. You can’t outsource the entire blog if you want to be successful with it.
If I’m Googling to find a good home remodeler, one that blogs personably will be more attractive to me than one with generic, throw-away posts.
Blogging is not marketing; it’s not even business networking. It’s the genuine voice of the organization.
If you do not want to write your business blog, you can:
- have a weekly conversation with a writer, who will summarize your voice for a post;
- find a person in your field and pay them to post on your website regularly;
- post photos or videos or podcasts.
I’ve been experiencing a crisis of confidence around blogging. Not for myself, because my blogs serve me as the meta cognitive personal challenge that Seth Godin talked about in that video clip with Tom Peters. But concerning the vast majority of businesses, lately I’ve been doubting the ability of blogging to win them over.
Why? It’s too demanding. Blogging requires nimble responsiveness that is frankly beyond the capacities of most organizations.
So you sell insurance or maybe you own a bakery. Not only is the time required to blog a serious barrier to someone with your daily responsibilities: more daunting is the challenge to think actively all the time about your business’ interactions with the world.
Your insurance is reliable; your cakes are tasty. What more is to be said?
This question is a biggie. Inbound marketing and search engines both rely on news being consistently delivered, content being created nonstop.
In a digital world, how will you attract eyeballs unless you are out there waving your flag every day? What are alternatives for the everyday small biz?
Social media participation might fill some gaps, but not all. If marketing is now publishing, how can companies realistically meet these needs?
When you launch your inbound marketing strategy, make sure you know the difference between content creation and marketing. The line between these departments in business is thin, so having a clear distinction in your mind will help keep you on an even keel.
Content creation is endless soul searching, intrepid adventure taking you to the very edge of your skills and gifts. Marketing is a step removed; it reflects on the content that’s been created; it sits in the spectator’s seat and cheers.
Because any update you post, or anything you publish online borders on serving as content creation, it’s easy to be doing marketing when you think you’re creating content, and vice versa.
Matter of fact, attraction marketing/ inbound marketing/ social media all encourage blurring the line. As long as it shows statistical growth, it’s money in the bank.
Okay, okay, but content is your bare soul and marketing is an echo. Content creation and marketing are polar opposites, really.
Don’t let your content degrade to mere marketing. Don’t allow the complements to converge, or you’ll end up empty handed.
Great content is your core. When building it, be sure you’re authentically creating, not just repeating.