Over the weekend I had the fantastic opportunity to have a quick chat with David Bullock. Not only is he a super smart guy, especially in the crucial area of actually making money online, but he is a great bloke too. Like most people who heard him in Chicago, I am now a big, big fan.
As Chris Cree reports, David a couple of times said that he was looking at Social Media to boost his community, that he has the making money side sorted but he like many sales people wants to grow his audience connections.
As at one point I told David, perhaps naively, some of the big name IM folks already have a high level of audience persuasion that is so strong it freaks me out. Their devoted following is almost a mind control thing. They have them dancing to their tune. If they shout “jump”, their audience asks “how high?”, and are eager to. At the time I called them Puppet Masters, that they are pulling strings in order to fill their wallets.
The more I have thought about it though, the Internet Marketing product folks have always been up front about their intentions. You join their lists so they can sell to you. It’s not like you have been tricked into a cult, but have gone into it with your eyes open expecting to get a certain amount of information in return for your email address which you know will be added to a marketing list.
But people can still feel the community is tainted when selling becomes involved. How do we maintain trust and an audience bond, while knowing that at the end of it all we are still in business to pay our bills?
Why bloggers struggle I think is that they confuse selling with underhanded selling. Not all IM’ers are selling snake oil. Some have built their audience trust over time by delivering value. While some of the tactics and attitudes would seem offensive in the social media space, in their own context and culture they are doing what works. One big lesson social media folks can learn from the IM guys though is to be up front with your business.
When you come to my blog I don’t beat you over the head with my offers but they are there. I say that I am a consultant. Either way, you know I am in business. While I am happy for people to get value out of my free content, part of the reason I do what I do is that I hope when people see me share my expertise they will consider hiring me to work with them on their specific issues. Thankfully many of you do. It’s not a hidden agenda and there is no need for tricks when it is so visible. We only feel cheated when there is a bait and switch, or when things are misrepresented.
How do you feel about this? What do you think when the money subject is raised in communities? How can we do business in social media without losing the “social” aspect? I would appreciate your thoughts and comments …