That’s what it used to say on my business card a few years back. It’s the crux of what networking is all about; helping one another.
Yet somehow the conversation about social networks has been highjacked. It’s no longer about creating connections…it’s about how to push marketing messages through these channels.
But networking is a marketing opportunity. Let’s dig deeper to find out what’s going on…
Marketing is the process of identifying what your story is, and who wants to hear it; it’s targeted.
Marketing encompasses a wide variety of different activities, from advertisements to networking, public relations campaigns, public speaking and networking, brochures and branding, word of mouth and social networking, and even customer service. Marketing is a great big umbrella term for the activities that create a market for products and services through a mode of communication or interaction.
Unfortunately, Marketing has become quite the dirty word in recent years. It’s become more widely understood as advertising. The reason behind this is that more and more marketers are taking the easy way out, buying ads, and calling it “marketing.”
Marketing vs Advertising
Good advertising is targeted but advertising is more often associated with the term “blast,” and works on the principle that more impressions equals more sales. This mindset has infected marketing, which is why marketing is so often widely understood as advertising.
Marketing is bigger than that, when done correctly.
Full Circle: Advertising vs Networking
So when the “marketers” got a hold of social media, it became “nothing more than a channel” (read: Broadcast channel). Unfortunately what got lost is the connection.
Throw out everything you know about content marketing for just a second and think about all of your best experiences in retail, services and dining. Wasn’t there a person that contributed to that experience? There was a feeling associated with that experience, not just a product.
Think about yourself for a moment, which shouldn’t be difficult, right? It’s not difficult because thinking about ourselves is a fairly natural human state. How do you feel when someone seems genuinely concerned with helping you and solving your problem? Contrast that to the experience of interacting with someone that only wants to talk about themselves. We are all at the center of our own universes, even if we step outside of that temporarily. We crave acknowledgement and feed off of the emotional cues of others; misery loves company, anger begets anger and a smile is contagious.
When designing your “social media strategy” make sure to look directly into the eye of the plan.
The real question
Is everything focused on your company and what YOU get out of it? Or is it focused on the customer and how they feel, or what THEY get out of it?
If it’s not focused on the customer, if your plan is about what you’ll say, and not what you’ll listen for…you might just be a “marketer,” and this new format is lost on you.
Shift and Rewire
It all starts with how you approach this. There is nothing wrong with content marketing, or advertising. Just don’t miss the opportunities by failing to read the terrain. Social Networking is an extension of real life networking. It gives people the opportunity to interact with one another, as they might at a live networking event or coffee shop. Carry yourself on these channels as you would in real life. Focus on listening to the other person, respond appropriately, and by all means avoid pushing your “marketing” in their face. Plenty of good marketing happens when you shift your focus to delighting people, enchanting people, being generous and trying to help someone.