Think about it. Would you prefer to do business with someone that you know, trust, and like or someone that you don’t? Is your online marketing geared toward letting people get to know you, learn to trust you, and (over time) like you or are you using the internet and social media as just another means of advertising?
First, let me give you the 30 second run down of what I see as the differences between advertising and marketing. Advertising is advertising… it’s a one way message (“buy from me”), it’s a paid, public, promotional message by an identified entity (a business usually), and it’s non-personal. It’s yellow pages ads, radio commercials, billboards, or for that matter any online message that looks and feels like this. Marketing is about being who you are as a business in everything that you do. It’s the things that you do every day as the person at the helm of your company, and how your business interacts with customers every day. Marketing is a strategic mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for mutual advantage.
We’re all bombarded with advertising. We don’t trust it, it doesn’t let us really get to know the people behind the company, and I don’t know about you but I personally don’t particularly like it. If people liked advertising, things like DVR and the national do not call list wouldn’t exist. Advertising does have its place but that place is not social media.
Online marketing, when you do it right, is the complete opposite. At an activity level it’s about being who you are as a person and as a business; it’s connecting to, talking to, and engaging with your customers. Because it’s personal and mutually advantageous to both the buyer and the seller, this kind of marketing allows trust to develop. Instead of being “Open for Business” you’re being open AS a business.
Small businesses depend on relationships, and good relationships are built on people who know, trust and like each other. To take the next step, social media is all about relationships – there is no other way that I know of to connect to as many people on such a personal level. Marketing through social media gives you a unique ability to let more people get to know you… when a fan of your page clicks “like”, comments on something you posted, or checks in to your business, their online friends see it. When people see their friends engaging with a company the next part happens… a beginning level of trust develops. After all, if their friend likes your business, you must be ok, right? Over time, they see more of your content, they might try you out themselves, and they can learn to like you. The technical term for this is “social proof”. It’s like high school, where people want to hang out where the cool kids hang out. As we get older, though, we’re more selective and we’re less trusting. We’re skeptical by nature.. we want to see it before we believe it (thanks, I believe, in part thanks to mass advertising that we don’t believe in).
The trick is this… don’t confuse social media marketing with advertising. Don’t use it to post an online version of what you’d put in a yellow pages ad. Open up… let people get to know your business, be worthy of their trust, and let the like everything that you’re about. In everything that you do when you’re marketing your business online think about it. Is what you’re about to post something that is going to let them get to know, trust, and like you or is it just an ad?