The interview, on the CBC’s Connect with Mark Kelley, was spurred by the five year anniversary of the launch of Twitter. You can see the interview here, starting around the 42 minute mark. And while the questions Kelley asked were focused on the personal side of Twitter, there are lessons here for your business as well.
Let’s revisit the interview with our business hats on and see what Mark Kelley’s questions can teach us about the inbound marketing side of social media.
Cutting Through the Noise
Twitter has grown exponentially over its first five years, which prompted an observation from Mark Kelley that there can’t possibly be that much interesting information out there when compared to all the pointless “what I had for breakfast” tweets.
This is true… mostly.
As I said in the interview, there’s no limit to what we can share online, which means people can and will share everything. There’s also no guidebook for what we should (or shouldn’t) share, so nothing’s off limits unless common sense (or job security) suggests otherwise.
The catch is, “interesting” is in the eye of the beholder. And when people start to share information that falls outside the established norms, that “unusual” information becomes interesting by default. This means the less a message sounds like an ad or a stale news headline, the more likely it is to catch someone’s eye.
So… how interesting is your company? Or, as Seth Godin likes to ask, where’s your “purple cow?”
Business Lesson #1: Your “approved’ corporate messaging is now in direct competition with “unauthorized” content being created by everyone else. With competition growing every day, your contributions must stand out or they’ll get lost in the shuffle.
Does Increasing the Volume Weaken the Signal?
Kelley also touched on the danger of drowning out the media that does matter by creating too much noise.
As he put it, once you have the sheer volume of tweets that we do now, do the tweets themselves lose any relevance or resonance if they’re left adrift in an ocean of information?
Broadly speaking? Absolutely.
But, like importance, “relevance” is also subjective, since what’s relevant to you (or to your customers) may not be relevant to me.
The good news is, the more media everyone creates (and the greater the risk of the “good stuff” getting lost at sea), the more motivation readers and viewers have to seek out the information that most matters to them. Not only does this mean that deservedly popular information will keep getting repeated by all who consider it relevant (so you’re less likely to miss it), but it also means that “niche” information about less mainstream topics is being actively sought out by the people who most care about it.
Is your company serving a specific niche? How easy is it for the people who may want your information to find it?
Business Lesson #2: Don’t try to aim your messaging at everyone, because the attention competition is too vast. But DO give anyone who is interested in your information a reason to share it with THEIR audience, which presumably overlaps with yours.
Your Brand Is Now Reflective
It’s not just about you anymore. (Although, if you’re lucky, it is about you some of the time.)
As we’ve established, Twitter (in particular, and social media in general) rewards those who share interesting, relevant information with the audiences who seek it and want to re-share it themselves. And while some of that information may be about your company, your products or your value proposition, most of it won’t be — even if it’s coming from you.
This is because social media’s “secret sauce” is the way it allows users to get a personal glimpse of the people they interact with.
For example, you may follow your favorite author on Twitter because you like her work, but if all she ever tweeted were links to web stores where you could buy her books, you’d unfollow her immediately because you’d process her tweets as a hard sell (or, worse, spam).
Worst of all, you might suspect she was somehow less human simply because she wasn’t accepting the unspoken opportunity social media offers its users, to reveal something more personal about themselves than traditional ads ever did.
What industry is your company part of? Where are your headquarters located? What charities or causes are you passionate about? What extracurricular accomplishments have your employees achieved? What is it like to work at your company? All of this, and more, is fertile ground for starting conversations with your audience. Doing so helps to build a social bond with them that extends beyond the subtle request to buy from you that each tweet implies.
Business Lesson #3: There’s more to your company than just a storefront. Let your social presence reflect the sum total of everything that’s wonderful about your brand, rather than just the price tag.
Need to Make Sense of Social?
“Being social” may seem natural, but learning how to think socially in business isn’t always easy.
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