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Technology & InternetContent Marketing - 8 Things to Learn from your Offline-Activities
To be honest, Content Marketing is not an invention of the days of internet and social media. Especially in B2B many of us, have been doing some sort of content marketing for years - only called it something else as going to conferences. The more we should wonder, why some behavior, that we see happening online, would be totally unthinkable in the offline world - and with good reason.
There are many things we can learn from our offline interpersonal relationships. We should identify the behavior that seems the most odd to us compared with conventions offline, and rethink. The advantages offline are obvious: we can see a direct reaction in the faces of our respondent. Online there might be silence - but it is hard to link the silence to our behavior.
Let us step back and let us question some of the cases, where online behavior does not correspond with the conventions offline. Maybe we could reconsider some of our online actions by the reactions such behavior would provoke offline?
1. Do not be offensive
Even though we might think “what an idiot”, in real life we only very rarely actually speak the words. Our grandparents have already told us “Silence is golden”. Online people seem to have forgotten this motto, even though put into writing an insult gets much more emphasis and endurance than a mumbled remark would ever have. For an observer this can easily result in a bad character trait put into relation to us.
Conclusion: If you cannot put it nicely, do not write it.You are allowed your own opinion, but agression and insults can easily turn against you.
2. Friends cannot be bought
Even in real life some of us have had to make this experience - some of us positive (real friends are worth their weight in gold) and some of us negativ (presents won’t get you real friendship). Fans, friends, followers that only are your friends because you promise some gifts in exchange, are either as fast lost as gained, or they don’t give a damn about what you have to say.
Conclusion: A small list of real friends, fans, followers and contacts is worth much more than a long list of strangers.
3. Communication is a bidirectional activity
One aspect of communication is listening (reading) as much as talking (writing, relating). As in real life, a conversation will be faster over than you can wish for, if the conversation turns into a monologue. You want to build a relationship within your social media community. If you want to be the only one talking, this will probably be a very lonely place.
Conclusion: In social media it is at least as important to listen and to respond to people than to get out your own messages.
4. Do not spam
Social media works with the publishing and spreading of information and content. If you have nothing to say, not information, no content - do not post. Even the curation of other people’s content is only a short term solution and to use carefully. Even though sharing a really valuable link can be of interest to your follower, if this link already got shared many times in some networks this could already be annoying to people. What is spam, might differ from network to network, but there is a thin line between being helpful and doing too much. Be honest, you would not shout the same message at your friends over and over again in real life - would you?
Conclusion: If you have nothing new to tell, do not post or find newsworthy information
5. Content is not an invention of social media and content marketing
“Content is King” is the mantra of social media. So you sit there thinking: I do not have content. That is probably not true! You mght have done content marketing for ages in conference talks, seminars, publications, or presentations on business fairs. Even this content can provide good ideas and reusable content for your social media strategy.
Conclusion: Get inspiration and ideas for content from your offline activities. Maybe an offline article can be worked into a series of articles for your company blog? Maybe the presentation from a conference can be redone into a video?
6. Mistakes are real and happen to almost every one
The difference is in the how you deal with and what you learn from them. Social media is a lot about learning by doing, listening and adjusting your actions. As you have to figure out what works for you and what does not, there will naturally be things that turn out the wrong way. Learn from it! Even all the social media rock stars with those long twitter follower lists have started small. They surely also have published a piece which did not get the reactions they wished for. The best people in social media are the ones that are able to learn.
Conclusion: Experts do not just fall out of the sky. As there is no social media manual that gives all the answers for every special situation, you have to figure it out for yourself. So start doing it and rather risk making some mistakes than not act at all.
7. Keep your goals in mind
A post here, an article there, one topic today, another one tomorrow - as in real life, this will probably not get you the results you are seeking. The big successes do not show over night, so be consistent and keep your goals in mind.
Conclusion: Even if your content should not all be about you, it should relate back to you and what you have to offer so that you can reach your target group. You want to connect to the right people for your business and not just find a new penpal.
8. Do not belive everything, the selfproclaimed experts tell you
Only very few things in social media are hard facts. What works for one person, business and industry might be totally wrong for someone else. Only very few have really mastered all the subtleties in social media and most of us will be surprised with reactions, results and experiences every other day.
Conclusion: Every situation is unique, many influencing factors and your personality have impact on THE right way FOR YOU in social media. You have to figure out for yourself what works for you.
There is not so much secret to social media. A lot of actions and reactions have an offline correspondent. So if you are not sure how to act, step back and think how you would act in the offline world - it will probably give you a good idea what reaction is appropriate.
Thank you Susannah for an excellent post. I especially like point 3 that 'communication is a bidirectional activity'. It still amazes me though that many people do not see this, even in the offline world.
Too often I hear people in the offline networking world who are quick to speak about themselves and conduct a pitch rather than listening and contributing to a conversation. They talk AT rather than WITH the person. Unfortunately, this pattern is repeated in the online world and much more.
I see content marketing as 'online networking'. When you meet someone face-to-face at a networking event you should be listening to understand the 'pain points' of fellow business people. Where appropriate to your area of expertise you can then give away good 'content', maybe as simply as in the form of advice.
Online the principles are the same.Reply
Thank you Peter. I absolutely agree with you that content marketing should be seen as a form of topic focused networking.
This is actually the basic idea, why we started building exploreB2B: using content and topics to start a conversation, as that really is something we have been doing in offline B2B for a long time with conferences and networking events. But somehow online and social media is still misused as an advertising tool. Especially in B2B that will not get the results people are looking for. To get heard you also have to listen!Reply
Great article. The problem is that "offline people" ask about the ROI and/or profit now - they do not treat content/social marketing as an investment in reputation/brand etc. They rather ask "do the Facebook sales now?"Reply