I’ve been listening to online preachers of internet and inbound marketing for the past five years and there’s one phrase that has never been replaced with a better one. Lingo should become more precise over time, but this term remains obtuse.
I’m referring to our habit of insisting that in order to get a leg up with your internet presence, you need to identify where your target market ‘hangs out.’
Now, you’re a professional, you have responsibilities and a helluva lot to do. You may party down once a week or month, but ‘hanging out’ is not something on your daily list. Oh, you visit Facebook every day, but the chance you’ll see a certain update is small.
So now we have to face the fact that it’s far less a matter of figuring out “where your target customers are hanging out” and much more a matter of ranking for a large number of keywords, being ubiquitous online, turning up around every corner.
Alright then. How do I connect with my ideal customers online and get them to opt-in to my list? Simple. Content, content, and more content. Title it, tag it, publish, rinse and repeat. Give, then get.
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.
I have a love/hate attitude towards Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid. As a genius of sorts, he surely elicits different reactions from everyone. To me, it seems that he nails it 90% of the time, and misses by a mile the other 10%.
Yesterday, Hugh announced on Facebook and Twitter that he was quitting those venues. His main reason seems to be that he’s offended by the social media networks’ ownership of all the content you contribute. The brilliant quips you share on Twitter, for example, don’t accrue to your estate the way your blog does. So why waste your time there?
There are solid logical ways to refute this argument. Social media is about sharing, not hoarding.
He also suggests that social networks make blogging too easy, letting people blog about inconsequential things, causing “… something magical (to be) lost, or at least, diluted.” His reasoning on this point is murky and smacks of cronyism, but we can give him that. He was an internet pioneer and indeed perhaps the web was more exciting back then.
My biggest problem with Hugh’s decision is that he was one of the more worthwhile people to follow on Twitter. I’m gonna miss him.