Lately I have been struggling with managing my Twitter connections, keeping faithful to my somewhat-connector beliefs while trying to identify my audience in a better, more effective way.
While I still believe you shouldn’t be excessively picky on who to connect with, sometimes you really have to draw a line. I see Twitter accounts full of self-promotional links. Just that, nothing else. According to these people, the whole world of social media revolves solely around them.
Is it really worth to focus on the short-term plan, rather than the long-term, big picture?
Blogging for self-promotion
It could be pretty easy for me.
My company develops innovative marketing solutions, aiming particularly at emerging new technologies (mobile, web3d, advergames) used for promotional / marketing finalities. I could write just about this, using this blog as a mere case history of our projects and self-promotion of our products.
Would it work? Would it be interesting and engaging? I really doubt it. Maybe it could work for some other company, selling more consumer-centric products, that’s for sure. But for my company, no, I really don’t think so.
I tried for a while to post more technology-centric material, with good results among technology-savvy readers, industry peers sharing our same niche of market. Were they interesting people? Yes for sure. Customers? Not really, mostly because they had their own business up and running as well.
A world of opportunities
What I chose to do instead is considering my audience as something more than just a mass of customers, but an online community – and talking about audiences, I got my daily inspiration on the subject from the awesome Suzanne Vara, as it frequently happens lately.
I chose to write about stuff that interest me in first place, and that I am pretty confident will interest other people as well. But these people are probably not going to be customers either, so why do I even care?
Because your audience, any kind of audience, can be your best asset in this social media world, and perfectly complement your brand building strategy.
For my line of business, it’s really hard to have a direct reader->customer approach, we’re not giving away cookies after all.
So your objective, your end goal has to be something different, something not about immediately monetizing your efforts.
You really have to look at the bigger picture.
- With this blog I show that my business isn’t just about my products, services or whatnot. I show it’s about people, working together for a common goal;
- I respect my audience because I am not trying to sell stuff to it constantly – and by that I also mean that I don’t include a sentence inviting you to ask me how can I improve your business because I rock and you really should do it;
- I realize that my audience is made of smart people who are not up for taking shit from me, they like to read interesting information but they won’t blindly follow my lead.
And when you do things right (or the closest to it possible), you realize people appreciate it, like my friend Paul Castain commenting on my latest post:
Start to value your audience
It can be your best ally. Its people can turn into fans of your brand – and not just in the Facebook meaning, but on a more serious note – and then, something kinda spectacular can happen when people from that very same audience turn into a friend.
With friends met like this, funky stuff can happen.
There can be business opportunities, chances that will make every short-term monetary gain pale in comparison.
Like a marriage, your audience is good for sharing both the good and the bad moments of your (business) life. Keeping it informed, of the good and bad things, is a key element of nurturing your audience and improving your online social networking, because the bad stuff will become public sooner or later anyway.
Your business is about your customers
The point is, though, you could never know where your customers came from. Because every little step you take today – including that one that looks insignificant or even counter-productive in terms of time spent – could become the source of something completely mindblowing in weeks, months or years.
I’ve seen this happening many times, some act of kindness, some information shared for no “$$$ reason”, just to be nice, turned into a friendship and then a business opportunities, eventually money.
Is it better to cash-in today or to plant the seeds of your business and let them grow into something amazing and unique that you really wanna be part of?