Aaron has a great post about PR agencies in the social media / web 2.o space. Worth a read, if only for the Office Space inspired giggle. Reading this made my brain connect what Aaron had written with a thought I had been having all morning about authenticity.
The attraction of blogging and social marketing for companies is strong. There is a feeling that with a little bit of cunning you can siphon off some of this juicy traffic and pump up your product. A lot of tips and advice out there reinforces this belief. Added to this, look at all these tools that are available now allowing you to “submit your content to hundreds of social media sites simultaneously”. Um, submit a lame story all you like, you ain’t going to get voted on!
Reality fortunately shows that this is not true. It is a lot harder to profitably game the system for your own commercial benefit than it appears.
It’s a real shame that many of these companies are going to try a half-hearted approach at gaming social media then decide that social media “doesn’t work”. If they would only truly engage the audience, take time to truly participate and create value, they might see a whole lot of benefit for both their company and their customers.
I have said this before but it is worth repeating. You have to start with the audience, what they need. But saying the right things is not enough, you have to show with your behavior that you really get it.
Attracting an audience with the right words in the right places will only work so long, sooner or later you have to truly deliver what your audience came to find. If you attract people with one story but tell another with the way you act then those people who were once attracted and favorable will feel cheated. Consider Apple, they have a huge fan-base and now pundits are squawking about their percentage of the PC market but Mac customers don’t see Apple as a PC company. If they started selling generic beige boxes would the customers stick around?
Social media and blog marketing are not throwaway tactics, attracting an audience this way is setting up a promise that you are going to make yourself an authentic part of the conversation. Don’t waste the opportunity by only putting on an act, really take part and you will be rewarded.