Knowing that this is going to be mostly consumed by online marketers, know that the purpose of this piece is not to insult you. Instead, take it to heart as the advice of someone who cares deeply about your profession and industry.
Marketers ruin everything. The great, loud, always-everywhere Gary Vaynerchuk is a fan of the phrase. By it, he basically means that anywhere the people go, there's money to be made, so marketers will follow them in droves. If marketers follow them in droves, that means so do their advertisements, spammy private messages, and promotional outreach. Eventually, another place will become cool, the digital hangout to be a part of, and the cycle will repeat itself.
It's not something that's going to end any time soon, but it's good to think about how you can best take advantage of it, and communicate in a way that doesn't make you the badguy.
The first thing you have to understand is that everyday consumers are becoming aware of the cycle. It's not something they think about and analyze as much as you do, but they're far from oblivious. This means that trying to be sneaky or pretend you're not being promotional when you are isn't the way to go.
On new social media platforms especially, marketers tend to think that the best way to promote their products or services is by disguising them as learning opportunities, free ebook giveaways into a funnel, etc. The truth is that, if you've built a relationship with people and they like the content you put out, they won't have any problem handing over money all on their own when you ask.
Rather than focusing on sneaky funnels, put your effort into genuinely providing really great, valuable information for your followers. If you've already helped someone for free, they're more likely to be interested in or at least hear you out when it comes time to pitch something.
In a high speed, more transparent world, most of the time you just can't market like it's 2007 anymore. What's more, most people still do this, so you can stand out from the crowd by being the one brand or marketer not assuming they're smarter than their market.
What are some ways this philosophy can actually be put into use? Here are a few:
- On Instagram, avoid falling into the trap of leaving automatic or, if they are manual, thoughtless comments that don't serve any purpose. Nobody becomes a huge fan of someone after they auto-comment "NICE!" on a photo tribute to their recently deceased grandfather. Instead, offer real interactions, ask about the context of the pictures people post, etc. Score some people points by acting like an actual person!
- Use a social platform for warming up a prospect, not for the hard sell. Community or social media platforms are meant for reputation and personality building. Instead of going directly for the kill, if you've built a rapport with someone and want to pitch them something, use twitter to ask their permission to send an email or schedule a Skype call to discuss your offer.