Pull, Don’t Push!
This month I want to discuss a mistake I see way too many companies making in regards to the proper use of the social media tools they have deployed. The problem arises when a company begins to use social media to “push” their message on the community. Social media is not traditional “push” marketing where you buy an ad or billboard and use the space to tell your story. It is a two-way conversation with your potential clients where a relationship is built over the sharing of great content. If you focus on building that relationship, the community will begin to “pull” your products and services through the channel as you build context with them.
I am positive that we have all had an experience where a pushy salesperson completely turned us off to a potential purchase. Those situations typically involve the offending party not taking the time to understand your particular needs and just attempting to “push” you toward the purchase they have pre-determined is best for you. Irritating, isn’t it? When you use social media to have a one-way conversation by continually pushing information without bothering to listen, you are being that pushy salesperson we all try to avoid.
So, if we all agree that behavior is undesirable, how should we use social media? Well, it is referred to as “social” media for a reason. There should be dialog occurring between your company and the community you are trying to serve. Spend time listening to the conversations on forums, Linked In groups, Facebook pages, etc. Understand the needs, concerns and interests of that community. Then, and only then, are you prepared to begin a dialog.
That being said, don’t just barge into every conversation that is relevant to your product announcing that you have the solution. Is that how you would act at a cocktail party or backyard BBQ? Do you walk in and immediately start handing business cards to everyone in the room? I hope the answer to that is no. Typically, you introduce yourself, and begin conversing about any number of topics that may be relevant. You talk about the weather, kids, politics, the news, etc. Over the course of a normal introductory conversation, the question of what you do for a living inevitably comes up. Once you share what you do, if there is additional interest, the other party “pulls” the additional information from you. At that point you may go more in depth and a potential business opportunity may arise.
That is how people conduct themselves every day in the “real” world. This behavior would be courteous and expected if you hope to forge any lasting relationships. So, why do so many completely lose their manners and become “pushy” tyrants when they operate in the social media world? The rules you would follow at the cocktail party are the same rules that apply online.
So, before you write that next blog, post that next update, create that next tweet, think about whether you are engaging your community with something that interests them or merely pushing your sales approach down their throat. Create content that makes people want to continue the conversation with you. People are pretty savvy these days. If they are listening to you, they already know what services/products you offer. If they are interested, they will ask or “pull” more information from you. Focus on building your relationship with the community and the sales will follow.