Why It Pays to Be “You,” Rather Than “Me,” Focused

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By now, most business owners and business professionals have accepted the value that social media can have in helping to raise awareness, create preference and drive traffic to websites and to brick-and-mortar establishments. But, unfortunately, not all are communicating effectively through these channels.

We often see two common missteps, which we try to advise clients against doing:

  • Not being consistent in maintaining an online presence. Setting up an account, only to let it go dormant, can have a negative effect on your brand.
  • Publishing overtly self-promotional content.

It’s that second misstep that we often find most challenging to address. Obviously, businesspeople using social media channels — whether to establish themselves as thought leaders or to sell their products and services — view social media as a marketing tool. And it is. But, it’s one that must be used both strategically and sensitively.

Your followers — regardless of the channel — do not want to be sold. They do not want their messages from you to be all about you; they want your messages to be about them. They want your messages to provide some value: to represent information or insights that they find useful. Overloading your messaging with promotions for white papers, e-letters, webinars, podcasts, consulting services, products, etc., can quickly become a turnoff. When that happens, what will your followers do? They’ll likely unfollow you.

Yes, the big value of social media channels for marketers is marketing their companies, products, services and themselves. But this must be done subtly. It’s more about establishing your channels as a source of reliable, relevant and useful information than it is about creating calls to action.

People don’t want to be sold in any setting.

Consider in-person business networking events. How effective is it to dominate conversations with messages about you, your business and what you have to sell? You won’t be very effective at attaining, and retaining, relationships if that’s the approach you take.

The same is true with social media channels.

Yes, you will want to — on occasion — talk about your business and what you have to offer. More importantly, though, you should be working to establish yourself or your company as a trusted source of information and insights about whatever your area of focus is.

For us, that means we look for (curate) and share information about marketing communication, digital marketing and content marketing from reliable sources — including our competitors. We also sometimes make observations based on our point of view on various topics. And, yes, from time to time we do post messages related to our e-letter, our blog posts or the services we offer. But we focus on keeping the balance weighted in favor of other, versus our own, content. And so should you.

It’s the difference between wanting to help others and wanting to sell others. It’s a subtle distinction, certainly, especially for those of us offering consultative types of services. But it’s an important distinction. To be most effective in their communication efforts, both traditional and digital, marketers should:

  • Understand their audience(s) and their needs/interests.
  • Find and share information relative to those needs/interests.
  • Drive response through relevant content, rather than blatant calls to action.

Do that consistently, and you’ll see your audience grow and engage with your social content. Ultimately, you’ll see your business grow as well. Don’t we all most want to do business with those individuals and organizations we trust to have our best interests in mind?

If you build a relationship with your audience that demonstrates your expertise and understanding of their issues and pain points, and you deliver information that helps them address those pain points, they’ll become fans, followers and brand ambassadors for you. If you continually shout “me, me, me, buy, buy, buy,” just as in traditional face-to-face relationships, they’ll tune you out.

A quick inventory of your own messaging can tell you which way the scale tips for your profiles. It’s an inventory that’s well worth the effort. What balance are you striking between “me” and “you”-focused communication?

Recommended Reading

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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