“Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses – for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it…” -Herman Melville
Put simply, Social Networks are about how individuals communicate and interact with each other in their quest to reach a certain goal.
Well, it seems simple until you look up the definition of communication. There seems to be an unlimited amount of studies and types of communication as well as communication barriers.
Yet people have a great longing to be heard and to connect with other people who understand them and share similar interests. Perhaps that is why there seems to be an unlimited amount of social network sites popping up and being populated at an unprecedented speed.
But have your consumers and clients gathered on these sites just so that they can become an easy target for advertising?
A little over a decade ago, I started to observe that people are tired of being sold to, but everyone is longing for a connection.
What I was discovering and have since discovered is that the Internet has evolved in such a way that we are able to find and connect with people of like minds and like interest. Through simple searches and peer to peer connections, people are discovering vast amounts of information, entertainment, and inspiration that is relevant to them. They are developing trusting relationships with people from all over the world and communicating ideas, sharing secrets, and getting advice.
Those of us in marketing (myself included) exclaimed, “wow! focus groups, behavior targeting, improved metrics, and word of mouth marketing on steroids.” But these sites were not originally created to segment us into groups of target audiences. These sites are intended to be a community.
As stated in The Cluetrain Manifesto, “The Internet became a place where people could talk to other people without constraint.”
For the most part, those participating in online social networks welcome the targeted ads. It helps to pay for the space they are playing in and they can discover new services and products of which they talk about and share ideas and stories about.
The question is, are the advertisers and brands listening? There is a great conversation going on, and it may be relevant to you. You can join in if you follow the rules of authenticity and sincere interest.
The marketplace has never really been B2B or B2C, it has always been about p2p, people to people and the relationships and trust they develop. The Internet is bringing us back to that reality.
originally posted on Concept Hub
Last Wednesday I had breakfast with Ricky Steele. The goal was to see what we can learn from each other.
Ricky has been in sales for a decade longer than I have been alive. Beyond his years of experience, what really stands out about Ricky is his network of friends; People who have come to trust him and would do almost anything for him. Some of the most influential people in this city count Ricky as someone they can turn to for knowledge, insight and inspiration.
Ricky shared an interesting story about his first experience as a sales person. At the age of 10 Ricky’s mom used to sell boxes of pre-addressed envelops. She was consistently the #1 sales person in her group. The thing is, it was Ricky who was making all the sales calls!
Ricky said it was at that young age that selling had become a passion of his. He loved being able to help someone solve a problem while getting paid a fair price.
I asked Ricky how has selling changed of the years. He expressed to me that “selling has become more sophisticated. Sales people need to be more of a Subject Matter Expert.”
Ricky said that the book Death of a Salesman is more poignant today than when it was originally released. A sales person can no longer succeed with shiny shoes and a firm handshake, they need to bring relevance.
We discussed Ricky’s role as a sales person and how he brings relevance to his clients. What I found fascinating is that Ricky is still doing business with people he has known since elementary and high school. His offerings have changed many times over the years, but his core offering, which is to treat everyone as he would like to be treated, has never changed. Ricky strives to be a servant leader, to bring more value to each relationship than what is expected.
What does this have to do with Social Media? Well one thing Ricky has always been known for is providing information to his contacts. He shared with me how long ago he used to drop off the paper that had the latest news about an executive he was trying to meet along with a box of hot donuts at the executive’s office. These days Ricky is online on Facebook and Twitter and catching the news feeds on his mobile phone. He is still making sure to send up to date relevant information and leads to his friends, contacts and future contacts, only today the Internet allows him to do what he has been doing for decades in a much more effective way.
Ricky has seen many economic ups and downs throughout his career. I asked him his advice on getting through today’s challenges. He said “Everyone has to have the mindset of being a salesperson; always selling always servicing.”
Together we divided Ricky’s core strengths that have served him over the years into three columns;
1. Relationships that have sustained through many years and many transitions.
2. Engagement with people of all ages and all stages. He says the key to getting people to stay engaged with you is to be receptive and to be real. People want to deal with people who are being real.
3. Leadership. Ricky feels his leadership comes from passion for what he is doing. He says it is passion that separates good people from extraordinary people.
As I reviewed the list I recognized some of the same elements I have been suggesting to my clients in regards to creating a social media strategy.
1. Relationships. Social media has made each organization transparent. Today several people from many different departments are building and re-kindling relationships online while representing the employer, their causes, and their lifestyle. It is no longer just the sales people, executives, or communications on the front line creating relationships with clients and prospects, everyone in the organization now able to represent the organization, for better or for worse.
2. Engagement is one of the most elusive ingredients in social media. How can you get your audience to join, participate, and contribute to your online dialog. I felt what Ricky has been doing for so long is still the answer in today’s world. People want to deal with people who are real, people who are receptive, and your online efforts must be ready to embrace and engage your audience’s ideas and opinions as opposed to just push more information at them.
3. Leadership. According to Ricky, his leadership style comes from his passion and passion separates the good from the extraordinary. I agree. In a world of ever increasing fragmentation of people’s attention, the people with the most passion will lead the online conversations.
It was a wonderful breakfast meeting where I learned that the more things change, the more the core things stay the same. What I was able to share with Ricky is that although it seems like his world is changing, the reality is his time has arrived. It is people like Ricky who love to consume and share information, to make connections between people that are mutually beneficial, who loves to entertain and make people laugh, who is sincere and passionate, they are the people that can rise above the noise and gather a crowd both online and off.
originally posted on Concept Hub
The title of this post is probably inspired by the fact that I am sitting in a hotel room in Orlando, FL. We are staying on International Drive and within walking distance, there are several things to do and places to explore.
I will also be working a bit during this vacation. We are putting together a strategic plan for a client who wants to build their own social network around their brand. We are helping them understand the current landscape and learn ways to leverage that landscape to build an active community around their site.
I reached out to Josh Hallet last week about this project and he asked me the same question that I often ask many of my clients.
“Why would they need to create a social networking site when so many others exist?”
My answer was, “They would rather have people come over to their house than meeting everyone at a bar.”
As I walked down International Drive I thought about that dialog. There is so much to do in Orlando, why would anyone ever want to build another restaurant, gift shop, or attraction? The answer is because this is where the people are.
However, if you were to build yet another site in Orlando you would have to first understand the landscape. Where are the people currently spending their resources? What are some of the things they are interested in? How are they contributing to the landscape? How can your site add value to their visit?
If we look at the Internet as one very large gathering place we will begin to realize that building a community around a social networking site comes with all the challenges of building a new attraction in Orlando. You need to know what people want, why they would stay, how to motivate them to contribute their resources, and where are they currently contributing their resources.
You also want to make sure your site is zoned in such a way you are able to mix and mingle with others that offer complimentary services.
Many of the most popular social media sites such as Flickr and YouTube offer the ability to mix their content within other sites to create a customized experience. This allows your audience to easily join in one group without having to abandon another. It also allows for them to bring their friends from their various communities over to a new site.
However, if you are going to throw a party or invite others over to your site, you need to know the guests you are going to invite, and you usually meet such people when you are out and about. The Internet has evolved from a simple strip mall with various storefronts to one of the largest gathering places with unlimited different places to play. It is no longer good enough to just build a great site. Representatives from your organization need to be mingling with the crowd, creating a presence, and participating with a purpose.