I’ll repeat it again: you’re not ready for social marketing. Your brand isn’t ready, your company isn’t ready, your organization isn’t ready. You. Are. NOT. Ready.
Ignore all the headlines and perceptions. Disregard the doomsday gurus who tell you everything will collapse without a Facebook Page and a twitter feed and a Pinterest presence and Instagram and Vine and SnapChat and Foursquare and all the things you hear buzz buzz buzz about.
Trust me: this is okay. There’s nothing worse than diving into a whole new world if you’re not ready for it — and you’ll do much more harm than good, mostly to yourself, than if you just avoid the topic altogether.
(Does this talk sound familiar? Were you 14 when you got this talk the first time? The implications are just about the same and the potential for disaster – and tragedy – match up nicely with this one-sided conversation.)
You see, social marketing is all about relationships. Not transactions. It’s about finding a conversation between your personified company and the people who seem to sorta like you (for one reason or another). These people could be your employees; they could be your customers; they could be your suppliers; they could be your partners — the point is they have some level of affinity for you and want to chat about what makes you YOU and what makes THEM GREAT and then (and only then) finding your common ground.
Notice that only one entity is “great” – you just get to be you and nothing more. You enable greatness in others. You’re the superhero who looks for no acclaim or headlines, you’re just quietly doing your job. You’re clear on what you stand for (and what you don’t) and everyone knows it. They know it ’cause you live it, you breathe it, you are it. It’s not manufactured. It’s not fake. It doesn’t go to Vegas for a weekend everyone knows about and no one talks about and tries to forget. It doesn’t ignore things or sweep things under the rug or pretend that something’s just not quite right. It’s open, transparent, and honest. It’s superhuman humanity. And in your wrists you think you hold the power, but…not really. The great guy holds some too – and what you create in between the two of you, that, my dear, is where magic is made.
How freaky is that role-reversal? Have I totally blown your mind?
I shouldn’t have.
‘Cause really, it’s just a new marketing tool, albeit one that requires a little more quick-thinking and boundary-pushing. The rules are still the same. The goal is still the same. The results may take a little longer to show (how long did it take before your best friend would be your best friend forever?), but it’s easy enough to weave social initiatives, metrics, and success factors through all your branding and campaigns. (Don’t know how to do that? Yet another reason to avoid social.) But it’s disaster if you can’t handle the basic ability to enter an ongoing conversation without mucking it up OR start a conversation with strangers about something they care about. Likelihood these strangers care about you before they get to know you? Haven’t we all had that person next to us on a plane, trapped in their tight-fitting halo of ignorant self-aggrandizement?
Maybe I’ve been flying too much lately…
My point is this: you’re not ready. You’re not ready for the responsibility. Merely establishing a presence is like listening to the phone ring incessantly, no one answering, that stupid MIDI ringtone again and again and again and hundreds (if not thousands) of people waiting and watching for you to just ANSWER THE PHONE. Getting out there only to talk about yourself because all you know is yourself? BORING. Find another topic. Be a leader out there – harness those masses yearning to have a conversation about/with something they care about and empower them. Tell ’em they’re cool. Ask them questions. Share thoughtful or funny or stimulating information with them. They’re smarter than you think. Be a normal human with superhuman strength. Correct them when they step out of line. (It is your turf after all – and trolls belong under bridges.) Make it real though – actions always speak louder than words, especially when it comes to social. Step away from the screen and actually do something. Live up to whatever it is you’re talking about with others. Then let those watching tell the story. Let them affirm that you did what you said you would. You can guide some vocabulary, but let go of the control. This is their experience. They’re great because they are part of you.
(Does this sound familiar to the parents in the audience?)
And if you think you’re there – you think you’re ready to move away from a transactional $5.99 relationship to a relationship built on common values, philosophies, perceptions, politics, and more – if you believe you’re ready to bring that creation into the world – just remember this:
You decided you were ready. There’s no going backward.
And please, answer the phone.