Listen up, marketing types! In case you haven’t heard…There’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Social Media. No need to become alarmed! But if you want to remain relevant, you’ll need to play by her rules. Got it?
Rule number one: stop speaking at your prospects and start speaking with your prospects. The key to success in social media is being social. The rules of engagement are simple. Create content that facilitates dialogue with your audience. If they like what you create, they will Google it, share it, and post it. Author Brian Solis refers to this exchange of information as the ‘share economy.’
Just ask Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division at The Boston Conservatory.
In the fall of 2004, Paulnack gave a rousing speech to the parents of the incoming freshman class on the importance of music. “I wanted to alleviate the terror these parents might be feeling,” explained Paulnack. “I wanted to remind them about the vital role music plays in our lives and reassure them that music school is, in fact, a sound decision and a great foundation for the future.”
While Paulnack never intended to share the speech, he agreed to forward a copy to an inspired parent, upon request.
Fast forward to 2010…A Google search on Karl Paulnack results in over 38,400 entries. The speech has been reprinted in three dozen journals and translated into six languages. Paulnack has received invitations to speak at dozens of events including the keynote address at the Michigan Music Conference. Even singer Linda Ronstadt quoted Paulnack in her testimony to the U.S. Congress on the need for arts funding.
So what can marketing types learn from Karl’s experience? Content is king (sorry Elvis). Think about it. We go to the web searching for content and answers. Why not provide it? If properly executed, content stimulates word of mouth and builds search engine optimization. It can be forwarded, Tweeted, bookmarked, posted on Facebook and discussed on LinkedIn.
One note of caution before you begin creating content- stifle the sales pitch. I realize this isn’t an easy concept for some marketing types to grasp. After all, we’re conditioned to plug our business or organization whenever the opportunity arises. But the truth is no one wants to hear it. Sorry to be blunt, but this is no time to mince words. The good news is that you can increase sales and build brand awareness on the web by thinking like a publisher.
A publisher creates content with a specific audience in mind. Know your audience.
Think about their common bonds. What inspires them? What do they want to learn about? What keeps them up at night? The better you know your audience, the more your material will resonate.
Let me give you a few examples of how this works:
Say you’re a gym owner looking to pump up your client base. You know two things about your prospects- they’re health conscious and they want to look good on the beach. So why not start a blog offering nutritional advice and low-cal recipes? Create a conversation with your readers by asking them to send in their favorite recipes. You could even ask gym members and staff to guest post from time to time.
Maybe you’re a real estate broker trying to build business. You could run the ubiquitous business card sized ad in the local newspaper showing your pearly whites. Or you could think about your audience and what factors into their decision when buying a new home. If they have kids, chances are they want to know about the local schools. Create and narrate a video that gives an overview of the local school system. You could interview principals, parents, teachers, etc. Another option is to create a video for empty nesters, showcasing local restaurants, cafes and cultural offerings.
Show your personality and neighborhood knowledge and you’ll establish instant rapport with prospects before they make the first phone call to your office. Keep in mind, the video doesn’t have to look like it was created by Spielberg. You can buy a flip camera for less than a $100.00 and edit it yourself.
Once your content is created, post it to your social networking profiles, submit it to industry specific chat rooms and forward it to clients and friends. If it’s authentic and speaks to your audience it may capture some attention. Just ask Karl Paulnack.