Recently, we looked at the nature of social media that relates closely to empathy, our ability to understand what another person is experiencing. We should also take note of a related perspective, in which social media is understood as primarily social – as opposed to personal, political, or spiritual.
From one viewpoint, online branding is about sharing the true self. On the web, we are turned off by the corporate presentation. We prefer content that shares real-person voices. We seek the human heartbeat, the personality. Web pages that are generic or coldly corporate miss the point.
But, and this is a major caveat, that does not mean sharing your whole self. It means sharing your social self. Big difference.
Authenticity online means expressing your honest friendliness. But it does not mean expressing your inevitable negative moods or gripes. Try posting nothing but angry updates and see how fast you lose followers.
In social media marketing, you’re constrained to present only limited aspects of your personality – those which are most attractive. Does that mean the web profile we have is hypocritical?
Or are we being creative? Does the new technology lead us to discover new heights of possibility?
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.
Lately I’m wondering if social media is ever going to catch on locally. I’m jealous of people I follow on Twitter who are always exchanging tweets with neighbors and in-person friends. As a solopreneur, I enjoy connecting with folks from around the world, and do business with them often, but I long to connect with my fellows here at home, too.
Fact is, though Facebook is universally enjoyed for personal pleasure, I sense there are very few who blog or use Twitter or actively participate in LinkedIn. In other words, organizing to use the internet for business purposes seems to elude them.
Since I’ve been blogging for a long time, as well as attending local networking groups, and teaching classes at the community college about using social media for business, this lack of participation from the locals is hard not to take personally. How come they just don’t get it?
Social media is new and fairly complex. People who adopt new and complex things are rare. The force of inertia is not to be underestimated. Businesses here may not be flourishing, but their owners still prefer the status quo.
Sadly, I fear this describes most of the small biz world.
True confessions time. I really like Facebook a lot. It keeps me in touch with friends as never before. It supplies endless entertainment. It makes me feel as though I am part of a strong community.
Nonetheless, I must admit, if I only know you through business connections, I probably don’t want to be friends with you on Facebook.
Now, before you take offense, let me explain. Everyone uses social media tools in ways that best suit them. I love how my Facebook profile news tab is full of messages from people I’m personally connected to. I go there a couple times a week and drink deeply of the news from my near and dears. I post updates now and then, but much more often just read the messages from friends and enjoy the sense of well-being that comes from belonging.
That enjoyment would obviously be lost if I connected with anyone and everyone.
What’s more, I don’t have a Facebook Business Page. I build lots of them for clients, and they’re definitely useful for many. For me, for now, not so much.
In online inbound marketing, there are no standard processes. Every strategy is customized to the given business.
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’re in charge of your business’ or your clients’ Facebook pages, recent changes in the way they are set up may have caused in you the same trepidation I’ve been experiencing. Oh, I’ll learn to use iFrames, everything will be fine. But not only is the technology something new to master, it also means that much work done previously had a far shorter shelf-life than we anticipated.
‘Course, we have little heart for bitching at FB. After all, it’s a free, highly valuable service. It can do what it wishes anytime, and we users are privileged to go along for the ride.
This change, though, may have deeper repercussions. Business has greedily consumed FB’s services, and in most commercial cases it has done everything it can think of to turn FB Pages into mini-interactive-websites, with bells and whistles galore, all in the name of selling.
But FB is not primarily interested in helping you sell – at least not directly. FB wants you to talk to your customers. With the recent renovations, cool apps and flashy promos take a back seat to the conversation. It’s your Wall, your updates that count; it’s simple interaction that FB wants to emphasize.
There’s an ongoing trend in social media that is patently at cross-purposes to the best of digital communications.
The world of online marketing is divided in two: those who get it and those who game it.
There are those, for instance, who suddenly get in a snit about avalanches of spam on their Facebook accounts. Of course, they have indiscriminately added all takers as friends over the past couple of years, so that by now most updates are from total strangers.
Similarly, there are people who invite the world to connect with them on LinkedIn.
And people who use a service to write updates once and spread the same message across all platforms.
These folk are into quantity. They haven’t got the message that inbound marketing values the quality of your connections far more than their quantity.
It’s easy to get “followers” online; but what you want is leads, actual potential buyers, right?
The internet’s solution to that ancient quest is to drastically heighten the impact of branding. Instead of pursuing huge numbers of faceless followers, you seek only the most qualified leads.
Social media’s tools cover a broad range of uses. Do you manipulate them with savvy or greed?
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.
As I understand it, the term social media originated in the use of the internet by friends who shared short messages in cyberspace. It was later that business chimed in, adapting social media to its purposes. (For businesses, though, the term morphed into social media marketing.)
That original use of the web for friendly social exchanges, even if for business, means the protocols of personal relationships continue to dominate web structures even now. Talking on Facebook about your family dinner last Sunday is also talking about your brand. Your LinkedIn profile mixes your true passions and your profession.
This is to say, the line between business and personal life has blurred considerably. We differentiate between personal and corporate branding, but the larger truth is that personal brand is paramount. Business, that is, can’t be impersonal. Much as we might want to cling to concepts of institutions stronger than the test of time, no construct will survive if people no longer support it. No enterprise can thrive apart from its human drivers. The web, especially, aligns with individuals, not corporations.
Before the internet, we considered ourselves pawns of the system. Now, though, we see how essentially the system depends on us.