When we market our businesses, we spend a lot of time on marketing messages. How can we get our value across to our audience? How can we brand ourselves?
Turns out, our audiences don’t want to hear the message.
I just finished reading Engage:The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis. It’s a great read, and dives in a bit deeper than most books on effectively using social media. It’s a manifesto, not a how-to book.
Anyway, I digress. Solis quotes Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto: “There is no market for messages.”
Solis goes on to say:
The market for self-promotion is finite. Yet brands, even those that experiment with social media, confuse their role and place within these new digital societies. People do not create accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or any other social network to hear from brands. The bottom line is that people are seeking answers and direction, not messages or sales pitches.
Read that again: people want answers and direction, not messages or sales pitches. Kind of puts your entire marketing strategy in perspective, doesn’t it?
Shifting Your Perspective
When you move away from pushing messages, something interesting happens. People start engaging. They find you helpful when you provide answers to questions they have, and they click your links to learn more. No amount of marketingspeak will do that.
How to Change Your Focus
It can be hard to get away from sending marketing messages down your social media funnel, so here are some tips to get started.
- See what conversations are happening about your niche. Identify the hot topics, such as “which accounting software will integrate with software X?”
- Come up with your value. What can you tell social users that your competitors aren’t already telling them? (not sure? Check their streams)
- Write content around that value. If it’s how to choose a product (like the one you sell), write it and share it. Tweet additional tips to double the value.
- Retweet and share others’ content. Social media is a very reciprocal world, so you’ll see many return the favor.
Remember: at the end of the day, we’re all human. Consumers like to see companies act that way. They identify better with people than companies, so throw out those canned marketing messages and start the conversations one on one.