Ryan Stephens recently invited me to join in on Mitch Joel’s discussion about social media marketing. Many of the best practices have been snatched up, so I’ll try to add something different to the discussion. Also, because of how long this post is, I’ll just link to people right away instead of at the bottom: Aidan Nulman, Jeff Widman, Kangai Mwiti.
My input for the best social media practice is: Relevance.
Social media marketing is very different from Interruption marketing. You (the marketer) are no longer allowed to patronize your audience – you have to talk with them. And because of that, you must respect their time and only bring them relevant material that will enrich their lives. I’ll give you a comparison to help illustrate my point (bear with me here):
Think of the most crowded bar you’ve ever been in. It’s probably dark, uncomfortably loud, everyone is talking over each other… It’s just not that conducive to talking with anyone – friends and strangers alike. You look around, see hundreds of people and wish to meet someone who will enrich your life and help you grow (again, bear with me – I know many people have a much more carnal wish).
We all want to be surrounded with people who will increase our happiness and help us realize our potential. But you can’t just go up and talk to every single person in the bar, hoping to stumble upon that special someone – it’s just too inefficient. So you might only talk to the people who look the most interesting, and ignore the rest. But even that can be a time-kill because looks don’t always denote quality. You need filters; preferably ones that will bring relevant people straight to you.
So we rely heavily on close friends for meeting great new people, because they’ve learned our preferences over the years. Our friends screen them before they introduce them to the rest of the group. If they bring in someone weird, we give them crap about it and they lose a little credibility. For instance, a friend of mine said she’d found a gorgeous girl for me, so I agreed to meet her. I soon found out, however, that my friend’s recommendation was not relevant to my tastes, but rather to hers. After meeting this “gorgeous” girl (who was a dead ringer for Bill Romanowski), I will never fully trust my friend’s judgment in women ever again.
The internet has a similar dynamic to this crowded bar. We’re in a noisy environment (pop-up ads, banners, the free ipod nano lady), and there are new attractive offers coming in all the time. We know there’s a lot of really cool stuff that will fit our needs and enrich our lives, and we want to have easy access to all of it. The problem lies in actually discovering these diamonds in the rough. We don’t always have the best idea on where we can most efficiently spend our time, or how to find new things online that will enrich our lives.
That’s where social media marketing comes in – it’s our filter. Like our friends, social media marketing allows us to be presented with the most relevant things that will improve our online experience. The social media marketer will learn our preferences, down to the tiniest detail, then capitalize on that knowledge. And everyone is better off because of it. But as soon as you (the marketer) start to lose relevance, you start to lose credibility.
So focus on relevance. Nurture the relationship you have with your audience, build rapport, increase your collaborative filtering efforts, and don’t EVER take our trust for granted. Everyone is self-interested, and the more you disrespect our time with irrelevance, the faster you’ll be out of our lives.