Newsflash: Ultimately, no one gives a rat's hiney about your social media marketing.
I don't care how amazing your campaigns are, IRL (in Real Life) no one really cares about your cutting edge products or stellar service. Dinnertime with my daughter does not include warm and fuzzy thoughts about my project management software. My predawn yoga mantra does not incorporate philosophical musings about the reliability of my network server. My weekend getaway isn't interrupted by even a single moment's thought for the nifty social campaign launched by my VoIP provider.
... and I'm a marketer.
When I'm on down time, I hardly spend any time on my personal social media pursuits, never mind my professional ones. The hard truth is that no matter how cool, integrated, or social your marketing campaigns are - at the end of the day, they don't have any bearing on Real Life. That's because "Real Life" isn't about business transactions. Real Life is about emotions, values, and real connections with other human beings. Real Life is about getting out of the office so you can enjoy the big, wide world. Real Life is about sharing special moments with your family and friends. It's about spending time doing the things that make your heart go pitter-patter.
So far in this series, we've covered the concepts of humility, service, and word-of-mouth. Today's topic outshines them all: Generosity.
Social media offers us so many ways to incorporate generosity into our professional lives:
1. Sharing Your Knowledge: Social media has given content marketing an injection of adrenaline that has resulted in growing trends like the current craze for eBooks. Be generous by packing your digital content offerings with real value and then giving them away without requiring registration. Trust to the concepts in David Meerman Scott's World Wide Rave - valuable gifts given without strings will earn you improved reputation and more besides.
2. Sharing Your Spotlight: Please, I'm begging you, don't use social media as a mirror or a stage. If you're using your social media presence to show everyone how great you are, you're getting it all wrong. Instead, use what influence you have to bring others into the spotlight. Share links to other people's great content, offers, and insights. Practice active listening so that you can interact with your community on a deeper level - responding to core needs.
3. Sharing Your Clients: No, I'm not kidding. Social media networks combined with virtual collaboration tools offer unparalleled opportunities to create mutually beneficial partnerships. More and more frequently, groups of specialized professionals are coming together to form swat project teams. Whether these arrangements are temporary or long-term, the benefits to providers and clients are many - customized skill sets, low overhead, freedom from geographic constraints, and the ability to leverage multiple networks on a single effort.
4. Sharing Your Resources: One of the most obvious, yet most often overlooked, ways to express your generosity is to give time, money, or other resources to a good cause. Sharing your passion for a particular cause or your experience with a charitable event can be a great way to give people a better sense of who you are - not just as a company or a professional, but as a Real Person.
Each of these ideas give you the chance to touch someone's Real Life in incrementally more impactful ways:
1. Giving away your knowledge lays the foundation for a platform of trust and respect, positioning you as a "giver" right out of the gate.
2. Sharing your spotlight has great impact on the recipient of your attentions. Highlight someone else's work on your blog, tweet someone else's posts, or promote someone else's event through LinkedIn. The gratitude and good will you'll receive will give you an idea of how you've personally affected someone's day.
3. Joining forces on a project involves recommending someone's work in the most active way possible and also creating the opportunity to deepen your relationship with the other party. Whether you're teaming up on a fabulous blog series, or tackling a client project; these types of collaborations have far-reaching, long-term effects that impact people's professional lives in big enough ways that their Real Lives also benefit.
4. Charitable giving - whether financial or in terms of volunteer efforts - benefits the recipient, the giver, and the greater community at large. Think about how such activities add a 3-dimensional, Real Life quality to you and your company. I often use the example of Life Is Good. I don't have any direct connection to this brand via social media channels, but I hear about their good works and have a positive, "ambient relationship" with them based on shared values.
That kind of connection is what carries over into Real Life. Though I may have little to no interest in the Life Is Good product line (I do, but just go with me here), though I may have no knowledge of their primary marketing campaigns, I have a positive association with the brand - even when I'm in a non-professional mode - because I admire the work they do on behalf of charities like Camp Sunshine or their own Life Is Good Kids Foundation.
The key is to stop with the navel-gazing. Think about other people, the work they do, how you might help each other, and how you might help others who have no direct bearing on your business. Think bigger than yourself or your company, and then use social media tools to make a difference in someone's Real Life. That's what people remember.
Other posts by Jamie.
Other posts in the Social Media Reality Check series: