There’s been an epidemic that’s taken place amongst businesses and consumers since the first television ad appeared. And now with the Internet, it’s gotten worse.
The epidemic I’m talking about is the lack of conversation that takes place between businesses and consumers. Most businesses are so delusional, they think conversations with consumers begin and end with focus groups and that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
In this new social world we live in where our lives on the internet are more exciting than our lives in the real world, people are becoming more social than ever, talking about everything imaginable.
We call this new breed of human interaction social networking, and as usual, where businesses see people clustered they find a way to take advantage. Businesses have found ways to connive their way into our social lives online and advertise to us. As if the advertising on tv, billboards, radio, and print wasn’t good enough, businesses also feel the need to encroach upon our personal space too.
Now before I continue, I want to be sure you understand where this is going and where this is not going. This isn’t a rant against social media marketing. It is however a rant against social media spamming.
I’ve recently had the extreme privilege to pick up The Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s a book that explains the inability and unwillingness of businesses to properly converse with their markets. This book truly changed my life, because it gave me a new understanding of what it means to “give a fuck about people.”
The whole problem with “business as usual” is that businesses don’t seem to really care about people. Long lost are the values of business that used to be instilled into mom and pop shops of yesteryear. Those days are gone.
What’s becoming really sad is the misguided fear small businesses have for not taking part in social media and the fear that they must do it because big business is doing it.
There is an extremely effective way to generate buzz about your brand through social media, but it must be natural and you must actually “give a fuck about the people you converse with.”
There are plenty of great examples of businesses who are utilizing social media in an effective and non-obtrusive way: Mr. Jim’s Pizza, Redbox, Best Buy and Pop Tarts just to name a few.
These businesses understand the importance of interacting with customers, providing value, and “giving a fuck.” But even still, there are those who hawk ebooks and tons of other garbage to uninformed businesses who seek not to provide value in the social media realm, but to rob it, rape it, get in, get off, and get out.
How many times have you received or sent blind Twitter follower requests to people only with the intent of “building up your numbers” to solicit them? This is completely wrong, and this type of spamming is what leads sites such as Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook to have to create walls and barriers to allow people to block these spammers.
It’s exactly this kind of approach to consumerism and marketing that has led consumers to be so disenfranchisement with advertising and “business as usual.”
When you look at businesses who are engaging social media properly, they actually make the consumer want to be advertised to by them. I personally LOVE when Redbox solicits me through Facebook. Free Redbox rentals! How could that not be great!
When you look at brands like Redbox who add value to their social media initiatives you get a sense that they’re not really marketing, they’re conversing and generating conversations. They provide coupons for rentals, polls, movie trailers, and movie summaries.
So what can be learned from this?
Social media marketing is not effective. Social media conversing is what is effective
Business owners seem to have lost the passion for business and what it really means to be passionate about something, and as a result, many new business owners focus less on passion and more on marketing plans.
When in the social media realm, resist the urge to spam people and instead embrace the urge to converse with them. If you sell dog collars and you truly love dogs, then find other dog lovers who are active in the social media realm, converse with them, add value to their blogs, and remember to “give a fuck.” This will lead to those bloggers and social media peeps to shout you out, which in turn makes a message go viral.
This should be fun. It shouldn’t be marketing.
Marketing isn’t fun. Conversing is fun
If we as business owners get back in touch with being people, we will find that it is incredibly easy to build brand loyalty when we take the time to care about the people we’re trying to sell to.
If you run a business, it should be a business you’re truly passionate about. So do what comes naturally when you’re passionate about anything else in life. Talk about it. Don’t blab about your product or service, but blab about the general industry or entity. People WILL take notice of you, your passion, and eventually your brand.
People are loyal to people they like and trust. By provoking conversation, you will gain more than just sales… You will build brand loyalty.