Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stop Using Social Media as a Sales Floor - A Commentary on Social Media Marketing Methods.

If you listen to the hype on the web these days, you’d think that everyone and their mother lived on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Marketers everywhere are pimping their latest eBooks and blog articles with titles like, “Top 10 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Twitter,” or “5 Ways to Utilize Facebook in Your Next Marketing Campaign.” The real question is, who is really seeing all this marketing, these cheap sales pitches? You would also be quite justified in asking, “Is this marketing actually effective?” 

I don’t think so.

Marketers are a penny a dozen on Twitter. It is becoming quite ridiculous. Chances are, if you have 100 followers on Twitter, 15-20 of them are spammers, another 20 or so are marketers, and the remaining 60 or so are your real friends. Recently, I was looking for some people to follow on Twitter who were from my local area, so I used a Twitter search to find people who were listed as being from any of the towns in my area. Guess what? As I read through the bios, I quickly noticed an emerging trend. “Joe Social, internet marketer, social media consultant,” one would read. “Sally Tweeter, helping you make money from social media,” another would read. Still another would say, “Jim Marketer, helping companies reach utilize social media to increase profits.” Now, I could understand seeing 2 or 3 of these, but 9 out of 10 of the people on Twitter in my local area were social media marketers. I’m guessing they all thought they were marketing to everyday people, who were just jumping up and down waiting to buy whatever the marketers were selling. 

How the Average Joe Perceives You

Now, I read Twitter all the time. I’m a geek — as in I’m not in the average 99% of people. I use Twitter all the time. This is no representation of the average. For a look at the average, let’s look at the average human being. My Mom has probably never heard of Twitter, barring overhearing the buzzword mentioned in a conversation between myself and someone else. My Dad is a successful contractor who has been in business producing high-quality craftsmanship for over 30 years. Now here’s where it gets interesting. He is tech savvy. He has a regularly updated blog, which he uses to promote his business. He actually has a Twitter account. However, he never uses it for anything. When he does, it’s only to tweet. He rarely reads other people’s tweets, and when he does read Tweets, it’s only those from people he already knows in real life. My sisters are also very tech savvy, for the average person. They send literally thousands of text messages every month. They literally text until the keys fall off of their phones, at which they grab a new phone from eBay, drop in their SIM card, and repeat the process. Two of them use Twitter, and rarely at that. Once again, they use it only to communicate with their real-world friends. In other words, they never read Tweets from people they don’t know, and if they did, it’d be those from a celebrity or someone similar. It would not, I assure you, be those from any internet marketer. 

How the Tech Savvy Crowd Perceives You

Back to the subject of Geeks.  Jeff Croft wrote an excellent article entitled, “Don’t tell me about your product.” His point is simple, and the article is well worth a read. He essentially says what the average person is thinking when they are contacted by an internet marketer. “Don’t tell me about your product!” Jeff is a techie. He makes websites, and does consultation work. Even he hates it when some marketer uses a friendly, social medium to try to sell him a product. When people are on Twitter or FaceBook, they are relaxed. They want to chill out, chat with their friends, and have fun. They want the communication to be real, down to earth, and friendly. Marketers try to capitalize on this environment, thinking they will ‘catch people off guard’ and get them to buy some crap that they are selling. It won’t work, and it’s annoying. In my mind, marketers who use Twitter are akin to overzealous college guys crashing some family reunion to hook up with girls. If that’s to weird for you, think of an insurance salesman walking into your wedding, pen and business cards in hand, to ‘get some killer leads.’ Social media is a medium with which people build relationships with their close friends, share their thoughts, and communicate openly. In this relaxed, open medium, people do not want to be sold to. They don’t want to hear your pitch, and they absolutely have no interest in giving you any of their money. Social media is not a sales floor. Stop hijacking it and using it as one. 

Counter Points

Now that I’ve probably ticked off half the people reading this by simply admitting reality, allow me to make some counterpoints. There is a place for companies in social media. Companies who are savvy and know all of what I’ve just explained use Twitter every day, and get results. They don’t use it to pitch, and they aren’t trying to sell. Fathom this. They use social media to build relationships. Instead of selling to clients, they use their Twitter and FaceBook accounts to answer their customers questions, respond to their concerns, and engage them in everyday conversation. This brings me back to Aaron Newman’s point, which I mentioned in a previous article, where he said,“"At the end of the day, I don't really want to engage with a corporate brand. I want to engage with people." 

Exhibit “A”

Southwest Airlines uses an approach that realizes this. They have an employee who operates their twitter account. People know they are talking to an employee, and the company is transparent about that. The employee answers people’s questions, jokes around with them, and gives tips about travel. People actually have reason to follow Southwest on Twitter. They’ll get some laughs, have some fun, and learn a thing or two about travel. When they have questions, they know they will be answered. It works. They now have the best reputation of any company in their industry. 

Exhibit “B”

For another example, lets look at Vendr.TV, a food podcast that travels the country showing you the greatest mobile restaurants in America. They did something incredibly simple. They gave away stickers. To get one of these cool looking stickers, you needed to follow them on Twitter, and send an @ reply to them asking about the stickers. Within minutes of getting your tweet, the actual show host would follow you back and ask for your address to send you the stickers. They weren’t building a mailing list, and they never send any junk mail or spam. Their followers would willingly promote the podcast for them. How did they do this? People communicated directly with the show host. The show host never talked about the show, he just talked to them, and sent them some free stuff. As a result, the show has a great reputation, and people willingly talk about the podcast to their friends. So, if you can’t hire a full time social media person, who cares? People want to talk to you, not some corporate face.

In Summary

So, I’ve told you what doesn’t work. I’ve told you what people hate, and what they love. Now, get out there and change your ways. Improve your reputation, relax, communicate, and build relationships. Success will follow. You don’t even have to buy some 59 dollar program. You couldn’t if you wanted to. I don’t have one, because it really is that simple. Just keep it real, don’t pitch your stuff to people online, and keep building those relationships.


Question? Comment? Drop me an @reply on Twitter @justinlowery, or email me at mail [at] justinlowery [dot] com.

Posted via email from ∞ Infinite Loop


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