You’ve probably heard before that social media, including sites like our own BizSugar small business news and information community can be great places to market your content and, by extension, your product or service.
So why would anyone, least of all a social media community moderator like myself EVER tell you to stop using social media for marketing?
Well, the answer is I’m not. Just bear with me!
Recently, while glancing over some posts by self-proclaimed social media scientist Dan Zarella including one entitled “stop talking about yourself,” I got to thinking about what marketing really means.
Marketing shouldn’t be about you.Or your product or service for that matter. It sometimes amazes me how new members either here at BizSugar or on other social media platforms will start immediately talking about their products and services. An alternative is posting outrageous or attention grabbing titles and content just to draw traffic, followers, comments and votes. But how will either of these strategies develop the relationships you need to attract customers or referrals for your product or service?
Focus on making real friends.Yes, that’s right! Real friends! Developing these real relationships is the first step to gaining customers and referrals. You probably already know in your own business how important it is to develop these close associations and how much more likely repeat business will come from these relationships. People often prefer to do business with those they already know, trust or are simply most familiar. This is why I’m often satisfied to do nothing more than offer an open invitation to regular users of BizSugar.com to connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn and take the relationship from there.
Share valuable information you believe will help. Don’t, repeat DON’T, share content that is simply spam aimed at promoting yourself, your business or your products and services. But also, don’t share information simply chosen to draw attention, gain votes, comments or stir up controversy or outrage. What are you really promoting with either of these approaches except that you are simply out to sell or push yourself and your business on others or that you have the ability to stir up controversy and draw attention to yourself. Unless one of these images is the one you hope to convey to potential customers or referrals, wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate your expertise and value by offering helpful content to the community that fits your expertise?
Tell others what you really think.Finally, don’t comment or vote simply as an effort to build status, draw votes and comments for your own content or gain attention for your business or brand. (Oh, yes! There are social media users who do exactly this and it is very transparent.) Instead, try to leave insightful comments, vote on posts that you really find valuable, especially to those in your network, and, in general, conduct yourself in a way consistent with your business and your values and beliefs. Those who believe they can fake this simple authenticity are easier to spot than they realize and, by contrast, those who demonstrate their ideals and expertise through their contribution in social media will forge an even closer relationship with their fellow community members.
If your effort to use social media to market your business or brand involves the same noisy and disruptive appoach that characterizes traditional advertising and marketing with either hyped and overly self promotional content that offers little value to anyone or outrageous and controversial or otherwise attention grabbing content that is short on substance beyond a provocative title or copy designed to generate angry comments or response, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy. Ask yourself, what value are you sharing? What are you adding to the conversation and what special knowledge do you have to contribute? If you have no answer for these questions, go back to the drawing board. STOP marketing and start communicating. The results may surprise you!