People have a passion to be heard, and in a world that at times shows it doesn’t have time to listen much less have real, in person relationships, social networking has proven to be the proxy for people too busy to connect in real-time. Paradoxically giving face time to customers is now the ultimate compliment.
Social networks have unleashed a freedom and candor of communication never seen before. One can pull back and try to clinically analyze the exponential growth of social networks using concepts such as The Network Effect, theories of information velocity, or collaboration theories – but in the end it is all about the passion people have to be heard and to be free in doing that.
The passion people have to communicate on social networks reminds me of how the word Eleftheria (Greek for freedom), a word that reverberates with strong emotions of being able to do what others said you could not. Never mind if those who said you couldn’t were governments, bigoted people who judged you because of the color of your skin or your gender or even your appearance. Eleftheria says those people don’t matter. It is a beautiful word and one my Greek immigrant grandparents said with passion and reverence too.
Eleftheria: Too Valuable For Any Marketer to Waste
Don’t waste the Eleftheria social networks give you to serve your customers and enrich others. The best marketers get it. They don’t waste or trivialize the Eleftheria that exists in social networks, they capitalize on it to enrich, serve, support, strengthen and get their customers to their goals. You have to love the paradox of how the best marketers involved in social networks look to free their customers, not ensnare them.
For any marketer looking to excel at social networking the most important questions to ask are “How can I free my customers from inconvenience, from unnecessary costs, from their problems by sharing more relevant information? Or by listening to them more using social networking?” Imagine how much more valuable many of the social networking sites would be if marketers asked themselves these questions rather than seeking out virtual bull horns. Social networking is not a virtual bull horn, to trivialize it to that is to throw away Eleftheria.
Marketers Listen Up: You Get What You Give
I’d like to suggest a contrarian thought to those companies and persons on social networks: the more followers you have, the more people you have to serve. They are not there to serve you; you are there to serve them with encouragement, insights, support and most of all, to give them a chance to get to their goals. That is what Eleftheria is really all about – freeing your customers (and followers) to get to their goals. Self-aggrandizement is a distraction. It takes marketer’s eyes off the real goal of helping customers to their goals. Better to be part of their passionate pursuit of freedom than tell them how great you are.
What Makes a Great Social Networking Marketing Strategy?
Honesty, being real, getting your customers (or followers) to their goals and re-orienting every social networking platform strategy to embrace these values is what matters most.
Think of it this way: trade off sending out thousands of Tweets to promote your brand (or yourself) and think of how powerful it would be to deliver Eleftheria to just one customer (or follower) through social networks? To free just one customer or lighten the load of just one follower – so much more worth it.
Yet it does not need to stop there.
There are so many more ways marketers can free their customers – from time drains, from annoying problems, from costly errors in their approaches to doing business – using social networks to achieve this. Here are some additional thoughts on how marketers can use social networks to deliver Eleftheria – yes, a passionate freedom of giving customers the ability to get to their goals. Now keep in mind I am no social media expert so you mileage may vary, all I do know is that trust is earned when you can deliver Eleftheria over and over again to your customers.
- Be very selective of which social networking platforms you participate on. Marketers who attempt to be on every single social networking platform often fail. Why? Because they can’t scale to support the conversations and unique needs each. Seeing social networking as a means to an end – delivering Eleftheria – is the real value. One of my favorite authors, David Meerman Scott, has used the cocktail party analogy of how annoying it is when you attempt to have a conversation with someone and they keep watching the door to see who else is there. Don’t be that person. Actually listen to conversations.
- Own your problems in public. There are not enough companies doing this on social networking today. Comcast comes to mind as one, and there are many more. How powerful this is for creating credibility. Own even the ugly, messy problems online and strive for a solution to them together with your customers. Deliver Eleftheria from them.
- Assign an Acronym Assassin your marketing team to seek out and destroy gobbledygook. Make it fun yet make sure any content going out makes sense to anyone outside the four walls of your company. Check out Hubspot’s Gobblygook Grader. This is not meant to be snarky or mean; it is meant to say embrace clear communication as another step to deliver Eleftheria.
Bottom line: Think about those companies and people that really matter to you, that you are fiercely loyal to and then consider the full meaning of Eleftheria – chances are they delivered that to you over and over again to win your trust. In that experience is the essence of using social networking for marketing.
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