I watched a great movie last night, with a very unexpected twist. It’s a Guy Ritchie film called Revolver, and is kind of controversial. If you’re the type of person who is into both improving your mind and action pictures, it’s for you. IF you prefer not to think during your entertainment, skip it.
Without giving away the film, it has definitely given me a revelation about Social Media, and helped me realize with additional clarity what is wrong with the way most people approach it.
For the beginners, let me just quickly say how we’re framing the discussion. For our purposes, social media refers to media that includes some sort of interactive element which allows you to more easily share resources with a person you know. That would include blogs, social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, social voting sites like Mixx, embeddable video like you might find at YouTube, or embeddable, shareable media channels like you can create at kyte.tv.
Most of the time, people look at social media and think of how it can benefit them. Which is fine – what’s the point of doing things that don’t benefit us? The problem is, if you take that mindset into social media promotion, you’re going to miss out on the most powerful aspect of it.
Yes, you can get massive traffic from your site being on the front page of Propeller.
But you can also make great connections by sharing useful information that isn’t about your site or any site you’re affiliated with. Through those connections you may find a person who runs a community of people who have a pressing yearning for your products or services that don’t compete with the owner’s offerings. And that could bring you massive, targeted traffic from a population that’s more willing to buy, click or subscribe. Or you might meet the person who introduces you to someone who is best friends with the person who hires your company for the biggest project you’ve ever done.
My personal favorite use of social media is to connect with people I never would dream of being able to correspond with through email. You may not have heard of Bob Doyle but I just about idolize him – he makes a really touchy-feely subject very practical. He created a product in the late 90s that gave me part of my life back. And I found the path to his latest product by shyly connecting to him through a social networking site.
You don’t have to be completely altrustic either. Just include the perspective of the recipient in your promotional ideas so they can go farther. If you have an account where you only submit your own links or the links of people you are affiliated with, think about how that looks to people who come across your account information. Would YOU befriend you? Which is important, because you’re going to need those connections to get your submissions popular.
Or say that you’re starting a campaign to get a bunch of bloggers to talk about you to their audience. The first thing you’re going to have to think Very hard about is: why would they do this for me?
Here’s a hint: I’m not necessarily talking about incentives…
For the next week, think of social media in a different way. Each day, instead of thinking, how can I get more links out of this, and how can I build more traffic to my site, approach it from this standpoint: How can I meet the best people for my professional life? And what can I do for THEM?
It could be that you can write them a private testimonial. Maybe you noticed a problem on their site no one is fixing. Perhaps you have access to a secret river of incredible resources that you can share with them and their audience. You could comment on their blog post. You could submit a really good post of theirs to Mixx. You could email one friend, just one, and tell them about the site.
For just a week, focus on the Social in social media. Track what you’re doing and in a month, compare Those results with what you have now. I bet you’ll be incredibly and pleasantly surprised.