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Social Media is on life support. Without conversation.

Since the Cluetrain Manifesto was launched which began as a Web site in 1999, it has been so seminal in my thinking, and more importantly, the development of the Internet.

In July 2015 I found myself deciding to say goodbye to what could have been a long term and rather lucrative Digital Marketing / Social Media contract because of it.

“When things look right they feel right and when things feel right they look right. I always follow my heart.”

That thinking gave me the clarity to feel something about the project I hadn’t seen when originally shown the proposal. I’m grateful for the experience. It made me realise fairly quickly, I never asked certain questions from the beginning. A lesson learnt.

To confirm my thoughts, it came as no surprise when I left to be social ‘tagged spammed’ in their pursuit of ‘getting the message out there’. Me and 40+ others on a single Facebook thread.

It’s not their fault.

The thing is, the result of that action was, it’s infecting, not connecting. The holy grail of their digital marketing strategy was “virality.” However the goal of a digital business strategy is best served as building a connection. One is shallow and fleeting; the other is deep and enduring. Which one would you rather have? I know which one I work on with my customers.

For me connection means more than just gawping at your “content” when it’s trending. Connection means going beyond the strictures of marketing, and literally forging living, breathing relationships. It requires that you actually empower people to act as advisers to your customers … not just plastering your logo on digital billboards, or winning two more Facebook likes.

It isn’t their fault missing that connection, it’s what comes from legacy thinking. And that’s something I work on with all my customers. Connecting. Most importantly of all, it improves all of their business marketing 10 fold. It is the reason WHY I started in business after all.

Connecting, not infecting.

This is how I see things. Every single marketing effort is driven by one primary goal, and that is to create a meaningful connection with potential or existing customers. And beyond. You know, friends, associates, colleagues.

The Cluetrain Manifesto authors emphasise that the Internet is not a medium nor is it content, it is a conversation. An emotional one. You will know that’s true if you use social media. That evidence is everywhere.

The Internet is a place for conversation

The Internet is a place.

You can buy books and tickets on the Web. Not over, through, or beside it. To call it a “platform” belies its hospitality.

What happens on the Net is more than just commerce, more than just content, more than just push and pull and clicks and traffic and e-anything. The Net is a real place where people go to learn, to talk to each other, and to do business together.

It is a bazaar where customers look for wares, vendors spread goods for display, and people gather around topics that interest them. It is a conversation.

In this place, every product you can name, from fashion to office supplies, can be discussed, argued over, researched, and bought as part of a vast conversation among the people interested in it. And the people selling.

These conversations are most often about value: the value of products or services, and the values of the businesses that sell them.

Not just prices, but the market currencies of reputation, location, position, and every other quality that is subject to rising or falling opinion.

Conversation is nothing new.

In one sense, the only advertising that was ever truly effective was word of mouth, which is nothing more than conversation.

Now word of mouth has gone global. The one-to-many scope that technology brought to mass production and then mass marketing, which producers have enjoyed for one hundred years or so, is now available to customers. And they’re eager to make up for lost time. That’s pretty scary for those not here already.

Maybe the reluctance of business-as-usual to break out of its set way of legacy thinking is perhaps epitomised best by some businesses own infatuation with “push technology.” After all it’s easy to only post an advert say on Facebook to all their followers. Or email the latest brand update.

Guess what, no one is listening.

They don’t go on the internet to be sold to. They go to buy. There is a BIG difference.

The one thing marketing must do is tell a story that creates a connection. One that actually evokes conversation to become part of. That is what actually differentiates a business from competitors.

This story isn’t going to be found in sale prices, product benefits or service results; it’s going to be found in – and should be told by – conversation.

So, as these business pages on Banburyshire Info offer the business owner the opportunity to share a business tip or two, here is one from me.

Digital Marketing tip

Here’s a depressing reality for most businesses: 99% of brand-created content generates little to no engagement on social media. It turns out that most people have better things to do than like, share or comment on product-related posts, which means the vast majority of your social media and content marketing efforts are falling on deaf ears.

So what’s a savvy marketer to do?

Join the 1% of marketers doing well with social by following this “newish” rule.

Join the conversations. Or start one. Asking questions on the perceived pain points in your industry is usually always a popular conversation. Or ask about another industry works well too.

I’m right here (in the comments box) to chat should you desire to get to know me better. Or ask me any questions.

Next week I’ll talk about advert blockers. the biggest boycott in human history.

Note: Ian Gentles only works with believers of that concept. Or we’re just wasting each others time. Enjoy this little Don Draper clip. Its brilliant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7uGW_QfQdM

Oh, I have a website too www.iangentles.com


Position yourself as an expert in your Industry.

You want to be recognised as the expert. Who doesn’t? After all, experts attract buyers. Then simply over your business tips, or business story. If we like it, we’ll publish it.

Marketing that works with Banburyshire Info

Interested in knowing more? Marketing on the Banburyshire Info website pays dividends. With a range of marketing options to choose from, you can promote your business effectively in the community.

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