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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Newsflash: No One Cares About Your Blog

Many brands like to treat social media like a big party at the cool kids house. Everybody's invited, and having a great time. The conversation is flowing and it's the place that everyone wants to be. Eventually, you realize that your brand is not there yet, and someone (usually someone with a big title) decides that your brand should be. So you put on your best party clothes, show up at the door and loudly announce your arrival. The only problem is, the party is already in full swing, people already have their drinks, and no one was waiting for you to show up in the first place.

Sound cynical? Unfortunately, for many brands that's the welcome they can expect as they finally start to turn to social media as a part of their marketing and communications strategy. Launching a blog, or a Facebook page, or Twitter account isn't hard to do--the hard part is deciding how to use these tools. Ironically, the thing that most brands have to worry about isn't negativity (as they often fear), it is indifference. The most common "backlash" against company sponsored social media initiatives are the embarrassing sounds of crickets. No one visits and no one cares.

It doesn't have to be this way. The one thing people respond to is other people. So instead of focusing on your shiny new blog or cool new Facebook app--the place to start is to figure out who will be the people behind it. Find the individuals who will be interacting on behalf of your brand in social media, and then give them the tools and support to do it well. All the companies that get credit today for doing social media well--Zappos, Dell, Comcast--have all become comfortable with letting individuals from their company become the faces for their brand. These are the voices that I often call "accidental spokespeople." Within them is the real secret to using social media to be a brand that actually matters: offering a real human connection.

This post was originally written as a guest contribution for FastCompany.com and is republished here.

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Comments

Embarrassing sound of crickets. Great analogy. Also, brands must realise that it's not necessary to always show up at the cool kids house. If the cool kids are discussing you without you being there, that's also a great place to be.

I liked the article. But Rohit's buzzword bingo was even better!

My question is how do you find these people (your audience). I think I'm writing about relavant topics but the trick is getting noticed. Any suggestions? www.lisaannskincare.typepad.com. Thanks.

The problem many companies face is not wanting to give the company a face. Then what happens when that face leaves (think Robert Scoble)? Employing a cool kid to be your face makes it a tough sale for some companies.

Hi Rohit,
You're so right, it's not about the technology or the community platform.
"the place to start is to figure out who will be the people behind it"

The product experts are definitely the people who should be out interacting online. And Jim has a good point that having one 'voice' has it's drawbacks. My community building model at Techrigy has been exactly that: I have empowered my team (everyone from exec's, sales, to dev't) to interact on Twitter, LinkedIn & blogs. That's much more effective & efficient than my just doing it all. And better for the brand if I were to leave.

Now that we've been acquired by Alterian, my community strategy will be the same for them. I believe that it's the next evolution of the community mgr/social media strategist role to lead a team.

And Lisa, a monitoring tool like Techrigy SM2 would find where those people are at so you could interact with your community.
Connie
Community Strategist, Techrigy
@cbensen

Rohit, I think you're right on: It's all about personal connection. I'm a journalist, and my "product" is the main idea of my latest book: that developing relationships with everyday people in your wider social landscape is as important as nurturing close ties. It applies to individuals and institutions, companies and countries. Technology only makes it easier, faster, and more efficient; it doesn't make the actual connections matter. Engagement does. Lately, I've read a lot about marketing and the Internet--the need to blog, Twitter, have a Facebook presence--but ultimately, my journalistic gut tells me, I need to do what feels comfortable and genuine for me: develop relationships with potential readers of my upcoming book--one person at a time. So whenever I see someone (in any field) whose ideas seem to resonate with my own, I reach out. And most of the time, because there is that common ground, they respond. The truth is, I want to do more than sell books (which would be nice, too!). I want to get a conversation going. I believe in the power of the "consequential strangers"--everyday people outside our families and close friends whom we encounter as we make our way through life. The idea resonates in my life, so this "campaign" is just an extension of who I am. That, I believe (and hope)that means more than any "strategy" I might employ, don't you think? Successful corporations today are actually doing the same thing: connecting and communicating with suppliers and customers, one person at a time! And the ones that fail are invariably headed by execs who isolate themselves even from their own employees. (see my blog about GM at: www.consequentialstranger.com)

It IS all about the personal connection. All people want to be noticed and if you can develop regular relationships with some of your customers over a period of time, they will spread the word and your audience will grow. The trick is to be engaging and make sure that you have something to say or talk about.

Great title with an article that was worth my attention!

I agree, without that personal touch, social media is worthless. The days of an empty suit, a faceless company, and a corporate monster that only cares about counting beans is over. As Seth Godin said a few years ago, "Small is the New Big".

Corporations are very slow to make a move, and so afraid of doing something that will harm their reputation. What they usually don't see is this mentality is actually what ends up hurting them in the long run.

A company should always grab a handful of folks that are representative of the brand, lifestyle, and/or mission statement, and allow the consumers to get to know them.

What I have been teaching people is this, and it is such a simple concept: Brand your people first, and your company will legitimize them on the back end. I want to do business with people, not a company. I feel that most folks would agree with that statement.

Thank you for sharing this great content, and getting people to think a little bit harder about what they are doing with these amazing tools we all have right at our feet!

~Harrison

I wonder if Twitter and sites like that are fads. It was myspace, then facebook. What next? It is constantly evolving and new internet companies will emerge in the future.

TRue no one cares about your blog if they are not getting anything good from it!
Dr WRight http://www.wrightplacetv.com


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Very enlightening! I've seen many small to medium-sized companies that use the social media like Facebook to "promote" their brands or services. Sadly, they exactly do the mistakes you mention above. All they talk about is their features, their latest news, their ads, etc. They only care about themselves. I really hope they read this post. Btw, I like the term of "embarrassing sound of crickets". LOL!

This is absolutely one great read. I like the way you pointed companies who wish to promote brands through social media networks should not merely be there but also interact with all the other people in the network. Social media networks are supposed to be filled with people who socialize and not with brand profiles that just make the online clutter even more crowded.

That was a good comparison. It's sad that it really does seem that way at first, doesn't it? And yes, you gotta look for good people who will be more engaged with the whole network. It's not all about you and your business after all, when dealing with social media.

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