There is a point for you in this metaphor!
Walking in to a large supermarket is best done armed with a shopping list that clearly identifies what it is you are going to buy! That’s my experience anyway! Without that list I could spend hours walking around the aisles aimlessly trying to figure out what I need from the multitude of products on sale. Some of the more tempting items like chocolate or coffee are my favourites, so a decision is quickly made at this point. Well presented, strategically positioned, value for money. You know what I mean.
Shopping with the Crowds
Of course, shopping is usually made that little bit more challenging because you don’t have the luxury of being in a supermarket on your own to browse in a leisurely way. No, hundreds of other people with trolleys,travelling in different directions are also shopping and clamouring for the latest ‘best offer’ or reduced price product. To add to the already difficult task of making your purchases someone is shouting over the tannoy about special offers in aisle 12 and on your way to have a look you find yourself blockaded by a group of people standing in the middle of the gangway talking with their trolleys turned sideways and their backs to you. Is there such a thing as trolley rage? I am sure you will get my point!
Too many Voices?
Music blaring, tannoy screaming, people talking loudly and in the midst of this ‘YOU’ and I are trying to negotiate our way around the store to make our planned purchases and leave! This scenario is an analogy of current social media activity! Be warned, involvement is not for the faint hearted! Too many ‘voices’ in your Twitter stream does not bring clarity to your message but rather a blurring and when that happens we can become insensitive to the really important issues. Over these holidays I have reviewed my own list and have decided to remove myself from much social media activity. Firstly, because I want to concentrate on specific areas of marketing and second because I feel much of what is happening does not currently add value or purpose to my own business.
Too much noise!
I am reliably told that the word noise in Latin is ‘nauseas’ and means ‘seasickness’ which affects balance and induces headache and sometimes vomiting. If you have experienced seasickness you will know how it can make you feel disoriented as well. There is a moral to this story and if you continue with me you’ll understand what I am saying.
“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs
We Need Wisdom
I would like to think that I am offering you sound advise here. So here goes! Well firstly, we do not shop with a view to buying every product on the shelves. Whatever you do, don’t try to implement every social media tool available to you. Try to learn each one well and become experienced in using it. Buy it only when you are sure it will add value to your business. That may be a better investment. I know people who regularly buy the 2 for 1 products only because of the reduced price. They do not normally use the product so why buy it?
We have a well prepared plan and tick off the products as we purchase them. Ah! Of course, there is the odd bargain or surprise buy that we make on occasion. We may even buy because someone else has recommended a particular brand that does the job so much better than the product we have been using. That is also helpful.
I guess shopping is a bit like marketing so here are some of the valuable lessons I have learned over the last year.
1. When marketing, work from your own list or plan. It saves time and energy and reduces the pull of distraction. It will help keep you focussed and makes a good reference point when uncertainty draws in.
2. The temptation to buy special offers will always be there and unless they add something positive to your business you don’t actually need them, no matter how much functionality they may have.
3. Work with others you trust. Family shopping trips can be both a pleasure and an opportunity for collaboration. The network relationships we have cultivated are effective and I come across people nearly every day who are so very helpful. Become trustworthy and add value to others without being asked. Networking is a key skill that will need to be added to your arsenal.
4. Stop shouting about your services! All the unnecessary noise of late on social networks is polluting the stream and in my humble opinion, causing a loss in quality. I’m not sure why this is happening but from my point of view the tide is turning and hence my reason for removing myself from certain social media activity. I am there to ‘engage and connect with people’ and not simply to ‘get followers’ or increase my Klout score! If I follow you it is because I have reviewed your bio, blog or website and feel that I am interested. Don’t ask me to ‘like’ you on Facebook without engaging with me first. [rant over]
5. Don’t dilute your services or brand. Be authentically yourself, because nobody else can do that for you. I think that is one of the keys to success for 2012.
6. Some people arrive at the checkout with a trolley overflowing while others have just a basket with a few items. You take what you need at the time.
My personal observation about social media activity is that there are few very competent ‘specialists’ in the field who are both remarkable and original. Most of us I think, are on a relatively new journey and we need to tread softly with courage in order to maintain our authenticity, authority and freshness. Take steady, confident steps in to 2012 and you will aspire to great things. The world awaits you!