All posts in “outreach”

Your Blog Isn't Special And You Have No Followers

There is a quaint notion surrounding social media that ‘everyone is special and every voice matters’.  This viewpoint is a powerful one: that every voice has an equal footing and every one deserves an equal audience.  Every blog post, every tweet, every Scribd and Digg and Delicious item on the net needs a watch.  Needs to be thought over.  Responded to.  Engaged with.

Whether you have a million readers or just a dozen,” goes the refrain, “your voice is just as important.

That’s a very nice, warm and comfortable notion.

But it’s wrong.

The plain truth of it all when it comes to social media for your organization; some people matter, some people don’t.

Okay.  Now that we’ve broken the taboo and put that out there, let me see if I can speak over the din and wailing and gnashing of teeth in order to clarify.

Communications and Marketing do not have unlimited funds and one-on-one relationships can scale only so far.  You want to leverage the network of the people you build relationships with to act as an amplifier for your message and to serve as a qualified filter for information flowing back into the organization.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is a real problem being discussed online, then it doesn’t matter who points it out, you need to act as soon as you can to fix it.  But as anyone in customer relations can tell you, there are legitimate complaints and then there’s whinging, whining and just plain old trolling.  With limited time, money and staff you want to be sure that you don’t get sucked into arguing with every person on the Internet with an opinion and a blog.

Consider: Is the complaint arising from a customer?  Do they speak directly to your customers?  Is there any chance on this great, green earth that they or their audience could EVER be your customer?  No?  Well then shuffle them to the bottom of the queue.  It’s okay.  Really.

When you have a message to communicate, you are looking to get that message as far and wide as you can.  Who do you want delivering that message: a blogger with one hundred readers or a blogger with a hundred-thousand readers?  Or better still, a blogger whose audience consists of several bloggers with a hundred-thousand readers.

You want your message to be in context and to come from someone with credibility on that subject.  Now a blogger like CC Chapman, Chris Brogan or Mitch Joel could blog at length about the benefits of using some brand of organic yarn in knitted goods and a sizable audience would see that message. But I question how many of their readers would actually be interested in, let alone accept their opinion on the matter.  Were I counseling a manufacturer of yarn on social media, I would suggest that a post from Amy at Indigirl holds much more weight than a post from CC, Chris or Mitch.

Talking in the abstract, it’s easy to toss around platitudes about connecting with everyone.  But for anyone with a budget to manage, prioritizing who you connect with is key.

Talking Whose Language?

Do you remember, way back in your salad days, hanging out with your friends and chatting away about the things that were of utmost importance? Remember the time one of your parents thought they could hang with you for a bit?

Hey kids. What are we all rapping about today? You can talk to me about it. I’m with it. I’m groovy. I’m hip to your jive.

hey kids, I'm hip to your jive

Now think. Think real hard. How likely were you to engage with that adult? Were you set to ‘rap’ with them? Were you willing to share with them your hopes and your fears and your dreams, or were you just shooting them dagger eyes and hoping desperately that they would drop dead?

Is your company trying to ‘rap’ with those facebook millennial crowd? Are you finding yourself a moment away from telling the folks on the gaming forum that if they only washed their dishes with your company’s brand of soap they would “t0tally pwn teh grease and grime…. d00ds… ftw. really.”

You can’t win acceptance with a community by trying to pose as one of them. If you are not one of them then you need to approach very clearly as being an outsider. You need to be authentic. You need to be yourself. Otherwise you will not only fail in your attempt to engage, but you push them away from the brand you represent.

Back in your teen years, not every adult was a square. There was always that one stand out who didn’t try to talk to you like a teenager, they just talked to you like a person. For that, and that alone, you would grant them a little respect and welcome them into your discussions from time to time.

As your company moves into the social media space and you attempt to connect with the communities you uncover there, it would do well to think long and hard about your approach. Are you going to approach like a parent joining their teens at the thrash metal concert, or are you going to approach like a person?

Original cartoon by Rob Clark