Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What on earth was I thinking?

This isn’t a "holy cr*p, I woke up with a skull-and-dagger tattoo" post. It isn’t a "trapped in the wrong relationship/body/subway" post either. It’s a genuine "I can’t remember what I was thinking" post.

I have a lot of RSS feeds in my feed reader, as you can tell from the blogrolls on the right side of this blog – and those are only a part of all my feeds. Whenever I find something interesting that I want to take a look at later, I mark the relevant post as a favourite – and I usually remember why I did it. But this time, I’m drawing a blank. (Writing this blog post is basically a way to trigger my memory, so bear with me.)

The article in question is "3 Things American Express Can Teach You About Social Media" from socialmediatoday. It’s a good article, short and to the point... but I can’t for the life of me remember why I decided to save it as a favourite. Usually, it’s either because the article describes something specific I want to do later (e.g. create a custom 404 message for the blog), or because there is a line or two that really speaks to me, and that I want to think about or blog about later.

In this case, it’s most likely the latter, and after careful re-reading I think it was this paragraph that captured my attention:

"...focus on building an audience by addressing the problems they’re having. Your job is to provide solutions to your audience by creating content and campaigns around those problems." (emphasis from the article)

I think that was it. Inspiring, right? Because really, the easiest way to promote e.g. a workshop that your company offers is to log onto the social media channel of your choice and say, "Hey! Sign up for our workshop, it’s awesome!" But a better way might be to say, "Hey! Do you have this problem A? Then we have this workshop B that solves your problem by X, Y and Z!" Or even better, because people might not want to be told that they have a problem, "Do you find yourself in situation A? Then etc."

It's probably easier said than done, because it adds a number of extra steps to the social media work flow: Instead of going straight from discovery of a news item to publishing on a social medium, you have to 1) find out which problems the news item solves for your users, or at least 2) find out how the news item adds value for your users.

Let's see if I can list a few examples:
  • "Sign up for our workshop, it's awesome!" can, as mentioned above, be replaced by "Do you find yourself in situation A? Our workshop B can help you by X, Y and Z."
  • "Look at our new products!" can be replaced by "Stuck in a rut with the same old products? Find inspiration with our new products A, B and C."
  • "Call us - we'd like to talk with you!" can be replaced by "Need help? Need ideas, or just something to get started? We can help you take a step forward if you call us at XXX-XXXX."
Yeah... apropos of nothing, I think I could benefit from a communications class or something similar :) But regardless of my skills, the point stands: focus on your audience first, and try to solve their problems. 

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