Don’t do it

Where is your helmet?

Where is your helmet?

In the new world of Web 2.0 and Twitter and Facebook and Ping.fm, there are about a billion don’ts right now.

Don’t think about getting customers. Don’t think about shaping your corporate message on Twitter. Don’t talk about your products or services. Don’t use the word conversation when using social media.

My job is in marketing, and my job is to attract customers. Our company has to stay in business, and to do that, money has to change hands. And my company, unlike the Pepsis, Fords, and Ciscos of the world, has recently launched in North America, meaning that part of my job is to educate the marketplace on who we are and what we do.

I have heard a lot of don’ts, however. Too many don’ts and not enough do’s.

The do’s I have heard are vague and ethereal: Listen to your customers. Be genuine.

What I’m left with, when faced with what I need to do this year, is the same “traditional” marketing activities I would have tried before Twitter and FriendFeed: Direct mail. Targeted e-mails. Web banners. White papers hosted by third-parties. Tradeshows. Sponsored webinars. Partner marketing.

I believe that the do’s have not changed with the advent of social media. Listening and being genuine work in a marketing 1.0 world; not listening and not being genuine didn’t work 10 years ago either. Only this time around, customers and prospects can figure out immediately if you’re being disingenous. There’s no room to skate on this.

Do the types of activities marketers engage in to attract new customers–especially for products with low market recognition–really so different in the Web 2.0 world? It’s tougher today, sure. But it’s just as tough on Facebook as it is in the print magazines. Thoughts?

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  1. February 3, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Yes! Thanks for writing this, I completely agree.

    The point of business is to make money. Although it’s true you can’t go after social media in the same manner as traditional media, you’re right that often the end goal is completely divorced from the advice.

    I recently listed some specific things you can do to “be genuine”: http://blog.asmartbear.com/blog/differentiate-yourself-through-honesty.html

    Still, you’re right that most advice is non-specific. And besides, “be genuine” is how to avoid turning people off, not necessarily how to engage them ultimately as a customer.

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