Stop Pushing, Start Pulling

Otherwise know as Participation is Marketing.

BuzzBinReferrersToday’s PR and marketing professionals really seem  bent on botching social media. Whether its blindly pitching bloggers or simply publishing a blog without any regards for how that effort fits into a community, the attempts to fit social media into one-way models don’t work! All in all, it’s a general push mentality that companies can’t seem to get over. 

In a one way, mass communications world outbound controlled communications can work. In a two-way fractured media environment, companies need to understand that they are not the center of a customer’s world. Far from it. In fact, a customer probably couldn’t give a damn about Company X UNLESS it’s an active member of their community, a member who understands them and tries to resolve particular needs. Companies must become part of the larger whole.

Getting a blog out there is great. But so what?  It’s not special anymore.  People that say folks will flock to your site are operating off old marketing information from last year. 

How are people going to find out about it unless you are participating in the larger discussion?  Which social networks do you play in? Why will they care without relevant context to their problems. Ditto for blogger pitches.  Don’t treat bloggers like media!!!! Why bother unless you really know what the blogger wants, writes about and cares about? 

Consider the traffic sources for the Buzz Bin over the past year. Note that ten of the top twenty referrers by far are social networks rather than other bloggers (thanks to Pam Sorensen and Kami Huyse who are the only two bloggers in my top twenty referral list).   Community first works! Especially if the content is geared for them.

Do your homework, and participate! Then you will attract people to your social media. Corporate social media becomes what is called in advertising a capture mechanism or call to action.  On the Buzz Bin the very first call to action is the RSS subscription button on the right. And the #1 source is Google Organic, or repeat visits from RSS readers who have subscribed to the blog.

By interesting parties in your larger network on relevant issues, blog posts, white papers, podcasts, videos, webinars, events (note a mix of 1.0 tools in here), etc., become more compelling. Community members are more inclined to engage and subscribe. A social marketer pulls customer interest through attraction rather than demand it by pushing.

Yet this push attitude prevails throughout the industry. Consider Richard Edelman’s comments 10 days ago:

That means we must help clients provide their own original content and enhance the dialogue with credible and creative material. We need to continue to convince clients about the importance of including bloggers in the outreach to media, of allowing their own executives to speak spontaneously, because there is a clear dialectic between control and credibility.

Edelman runs one of  the largest PR companies in the world.  His attitude reflects his company’s approach and probably 90% of the industry. 

What we as an industry must come to understand is that two-way media forms are different.  To succeed as a PR pro or marketer, participation needs to happen.  Social media has its own unique nuances that inherently social because of two-way communication.  This change is as big as when TV introduced video to the media environment in the 50s. So much of Now Is Gone revolves around this concept. My only regret is we didn’t reinforce it with more social network discussion. 

Stop playing by the old rules, and learn the game.