Yesterday I created about a couple dozen tweets, branded images, and Facebook updates for a new startup I’m working with. I also worked on their Kickstarter project page. It was a productive day where I did pretty much nothing but create content to “push” out to the folks on the Internet.
I think of this kind of self-promotional content as Show-Off Content.
Yesterday I also read an article on being of service, one on influencer marketing, and one on claiming a space in your market by offering extra instruction in an area related to your expertise. In this case it was a hair products line that offered courses for men on how to braid their little girls’ hair. (If you have a little extra time, I recommend reading this one especially.)
Here’s the conundrum you will face as you start your business with the intent of getting the word out on the Internet:
On one hand you’ll want to show and tell every last feature, benefit and detail about your product or service, especially if you have a technical marvel or a new invention you’re champing at the bit to release on the world. (This is the show-off content.)
On the other hand, you will probably be advised by some well-meaning marketer type (like yours truly) to try to engage your target audience in meaningful conversation about their real-life concerns. (This is the engaging content.)
Hopefully, somewhere, the two conversations intersect.
There’s only one small problem, and that is that no one knows who you are yet, except maybe your mom, and your dog.
Any public move you make is branding your company, product, and business in stark outlines simply because you only have a few strokes of the pen to your name.
That first post is daunting. Your first follows feel like you’re shooting precious arrows out of your quiver into the deep dark wood.
That first mark on the world, it may feel uncomfortable, but it’s exciting and fun, too!
Self Promotion with Finesse
I grew up hearing the phrase, “Self praise stinks.” I was taught that it’s bad to “brag.” Maybe as a result of that, I learned how to listen. I also became a marketer (how ironic is that?), and spent years in sales for corporations where I learned that you cannot sell anything without sharing how you’re good and different.
Of course, relationships rule, and helpful people dominate the sales and marketing world, but there’s no getting around the requirement to “show off” your stuff. How will anyone know unless you share?
If you’re shy about the self-promotion part, I sympathize, but there’s no getting around it, so rip off the bandaid and just do it.
Introduce yourself. Just dive in. Just don’t make it all about what you do.
It’s not about you.
You can become so fixated on making sure people understand you and your product that you forget that they really only care about themselves…
Your primary job as a marketer — and I hope by now you realize that content creation is impossible without understanding your market — is to get to know your ideal customer.
After you’ve been on social media with your new project awhile, you begin to understand your audience better, just like SoCozy children’s hair products owner, Cozy Friedman noticed the dad/haircare trend.
Still, how do you engage the right people? Should you even be worrying about the “right” people? How do you approach someone on Facebook or Twitter and start a conversation? (Because that’s what your marketing person is going to tell you to do, you know.)
Today, I was really glad to get a lot of content “done” for my client because now I’m caught up for a few days. For the next few days I’ll switch mindsets and take in others’ content. From the outside, it may look like I’m being awfully quiet and ineffective, making small comments, and asking what may appear to be inconsequential questions. However, it’s the most important thing I do to balance the promotional content creation activity…
I’ll be listening.
I’ll have the breathing room and the space to simply watch and learn what people are saying to each other.
As a content creator, you must make time to do this regularly. You will perfunctorily receive information about your market every day you are on social media, but you also need to take time to browse hashtags related to your industry or your market’s interests; find, follow and interact with influencers; and research blogs they follow and quote.
See, when you’re busy with the flurry of content “creation” — especially at the beginning of marketing a brand new product or service — it’s tempting to unleash your creativity and hope some of it sticks. (In fact, you have to do something like this, just to get moving.)
It’s OK if it’s not quite right.
It’s even OK if you are wrong, because you are learning how to connect in the right way. It’s like learning a new language. Drumming up the “right” conversation takes a little finessing. Remember, also, that it’s OK to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to wade in there and look a little stupid.
If you are searching for a new market for a brand new product, and you’re not even certain who your first customers will be, then, yes, push some content out there. But take time to listen, too.
Focus groups, Q&A sessions with prospects, and brainstorming with your product development team will only get you so far.
Real live conversations on social media get you even farther as you grow to understand your market. And the best part is you can have some fun with it.
Give yourself time to listen and lurk, watch and see how people are talking and receiving social messages, then join the conversation.
A big viral splash is what every startup hopes for, but it’s the meaningful quiet dialogues, often between one or two people or influencers on social media, that have the most potential to plant the seeds of loyalty for your brand, and enthusiasm for your product.
Good luck! and if you’d like to talk about being a better, more efficient content creator, I’m happy discuss your project with you…