(This post originally appeared on Philanthropy Front and Center - San Francisco.)
A mindful social business strategy centers around a thoughtful focus on the needs of the market rather than the "spray and pray" approach we are all so used to seeing in "traditional" marketing. More and more, people online, and off, expect us to know what they want. If we don't, they look for someone who does. Still, many marketers continue to think of a "target market" as one or two large units and create everything directed outward to a broad spectrum of needs.
Communication is a two-way conversation! Seems like a no-brainer thing to say doesn't it? In fact, most of the time businesses direct their conversations in only one direction, out. In addition, traditional advertising aside, social marketing content is often focused more on what the marketer thinks and wants than on what their intended recipient thinks and needs. Gross assumptions are made, like:
- Buy our product now or you'll miss out
- See how smart/powerful/good we are
- Save the....
- We're expensive, but worth it
Whatever the message, it's not very conversational is it? That's the problem. Social media is a conversation. Social conversations naturally flow back and forth so you leave an opening, create an opportunity for your market to talk back to you. Use what you learn to make your marketing better and more efficient at connecting with their real needs. Learn how to convert evangelists for your brand from simple conversations.
Non-profit or for-profit, it all works the same. We often think nonprofits are much better at reaching individuals who are interested in their cause. After all, many nonprofit causes create feelings of emotion in order to enact change. Does that make us outraged to action? Sure it can, but sometimes it just makes us look away in hopeless discontent and we don't act.
That's why organizations like charitywater have become such poster children for new media strategies. They show us photos of volunteers successfully making a difference in the world and then they show us how we can do it too. We feel enabled, and even if we aren't going to take our family on a trip to see the well we helped fund, we feel empowered by the ability to ask our friends to support them instead of giving us birthday gifts through make a micro-donation and see the result.
The same rings true in for-profit of course. It's so much easier to blanket the universe with the glories of our product, the needs we resolve, appeal to guilt and envy, but if we don't connect for the individual the appeals may fall flat.
Mindfulness is the answer. Harvard Professor Dr. Ellen Langer Ph.D. wrote Mindfulness some 25 years ago in which she contends the mindless following of routine and automation can lead to more errors in day to day life, undermine the intuitive flow of conversation and limit creativity. She explains how we get locked into a focus on the outcome instead of how we are going to get there, and in social media in particular that's a problem. Mindless repetition and automation take the life and heart out of our work. It shows when the responses to our appeals to buy a product or support a cause fall on deaf ears while other, more mindful approaches work so very well.
Mindful Social Media Strategy. It's time for us to quit paying lip service to social media. You're either engaging and listening to people, or you're just using the same old boring tactics, probably to little effect. If you want to learn more about how to create a social media strategy that is mindful and effective, I'm leading a webinar, “Reaching Your Social Media Goals With Mindful Engagement” for the Foundation Center on September 10, 2014. Join me for use-cases in how to create a strategy, tips and tricks to do it efficiently, and even how you can use automation as a way to encourage deeper engagement and relationships.
Janet Fouts is the founder and CEO of Tatu Digital Media, a San Jose digital marketing agency. Founded in 1996, Tatu Digital works with a range of clients from tiny nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations to manage brand reputation, create effective social business strategies, and implement inbound marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click campaigns.