Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

Social Media Marketing Fire

I enjoy watching business documentaries. Since you are strongly connected with a business, you probably enjoy them, too. I learn a lot from them and I have discovered that all those success stories have one thing in common: they all evolve around the classic business model on how to outsell your competition.

You were able to make it if you were fast, good, or cheap. Then later, you could only get ahead of your competition if you were faster, better or cheaper.

Today, we face a new paradigm in marketing and business in general. New communication tools were created to empower the customer. A fourth component was added to the mix but this time the concept is very different and harder to grasp because it is intangible. New marketing is about telling compelling stories. Not just any stories, but ones that are believable, attractive, stories that people would want to identify with and can contribute to.

The story of the product is not a new concept, I agree. It was there before the radio was invented and before the television pushed radio to the side. The advent of the internet brought a huge difference in the way a brand is now built, maintained, and promoted. Social media has switched control from the marketer to its customers. Gone are the days when the marketer was the one to decide what people perceive about their brand. The new marketing is no longer about controlling the conversation but merely about trying to influence it.

Yes, you can still pay to have total control of what goes in the print ads or the TV commercials. You control the banner ads and the videos posted on Youtube. Yet, one thing you cannot control is the conversation taking place afterwards. Social media empowers this conversation and allows your story to spread. What you control is the narrative of the story.

In today’s social media marketing world you are successful only if you act like a smart firefighter. Learn how the fire spreads, analyze the circumstances and control fire with fire. Monitor the online conversations and find out everything about your customers: who they are, what they say, who they hang out with online and where, and what stories are they more compelled by and more inclined to resonate to. Build the appropriate narrative and take part in the generated conversation. Some materials burn quicker than others and are more prone to catch fire, the same way some people are easier to influence and can help your brand spread the word better, faster, and to more people than others.

Just like the fire, it would be bad to let it burn and spend no efforts to control it, but it would be even worse to let a fire burn without even knowing there is a fire. There is no way to control or even acknowledge the way people perceive and talk about your brand without monitoring the conversation taking place online. Like it or not, the “fire” is there, people do talk about your business and if you are not active on social media, they don’t talk WITH you, but they do talk ABOUT you.

I remember the time I spent with my grandparents on their farm in the country. Fire was a very important component of their pristine life and many important things evolved around the oven. The incredible pies and cookies my grandma used to delight us with all started with the fire in the oven. Every time she would start the fire, she would have two bottles with her: water and kerosene. Those two bottles were her most important tools to start and control the fire. She used them smartly and with her knowledge and hard work, the result was… yummy. So take part in the conversation, be proactive, start and control “fires” and the result will be a strong brand, casting the image you want, to the people you are interested in for the long-term well being of your business.

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