There is a great article written by Naomi Dunford at Copyblogger titled "7 Ways You're Screwing Up Relationship Marketing". Naomi makes some excellent points about a common misconception people have regarding social media. Many people seem to think social media is the same thing as relationship marketing, or that brands need to follow the same rules as people to be successful in this medium. Well, it's not, and they don't. So, if social media isn't relationship marketing, what is it?
Marketing is the ability to tell your story in a compelling and memorable way. Journalists do this every day, and there's something every marketer can learn from their journalistic brethren. It's a simple piece of advice given to every budding young reporter. That advice is: "don't bury your lede."
What's a lede? The lede is the most important part of the story. It's the gem that makes the story worth reading. Great journalists can spot a good lede in the midst of the most muddled story. And good marketers need to be able to do the same.
Here's an example of a great lede from a recent wall street journal article (hattip: Brandon Ducher)
Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.
Notice the lede isn't the fact he uses social networks, nor the fact he's homeless. It's the juxtaposition of the two. The idea that a homeless person has a digital identity is the heart of this story, and the author does a great job engaging you in the narrative with this unexpected angle.
To find the lede you have to sift through the chafe, the details that don't matter, and figure out what is actually worth talking about when it comes to your brand or product. You should grab the lede by it's collar and make it stand up front and center. The lede should lead.
The most common mistake is trying to say too much. You can't have multiple ledes, or you end up with a muddled, un-focused story that loses the reader. A good lede should be simple, concrete and memorable. It should hook the audience and keep the reader going.
Next time you're working on crafting a marketing message, pretend you're an outsider writing a news story. What aspect of the story is worth talking about? What's the most interesting angle? Try to identify the lede, and then give it the spotlight it deserves.
Iran is currently undergoing a revolution. If you want to read more about it check out Twitter. (Media is also undergoing a revolution. Draw the parallels, yadda yadda.) I'm not going to talk about how the web is changing everything. I just want to point out an observation about the Iranian situation. It isn't news to the Iranian people that their government hasn't been ideal, but they've been apathetic, and too tired, to rise up and do something about it. This is the tipping point.
In general, most sites aim to convert visitors into sales, subscriptions, registrations and requests for quotes, but there's one more conversion point that I think is often overlooked in web design and interactive strategy. That conversion point is sharing. Sharing is crucial to online success, not only to bloggers and other "social media" types, but really to most people doing business online. In fact, most bloggers over emphasize other conversion points such as subscriptions, and leave the potential for sharing largely untapped.
Some of the best examples of sharing options as conversion points are the major video sites Youtube and Vimeo. These sites have developed platforms based off of sharing, and their visual, easy to find, and easy to use options are a good model for building shareable content across the board. Of course, building shareable content and building for content to be shared are two different things. The echo chamber is full of people saying that they key to online success is making great content. Well, what is great content?
The hardest part of being a salesman is getting your foot in the door. The same goes for your brand. The hardest part is getting your customer's attention.
Sometimes you have to tell a story to get your foot in the door. Other times a potential customer will just welcome you into their world. It may be because they're nice, or perhaps you're good looking, or maybe they know your mom. Either way, you've made it pass the threshold. You got their attention.
Now, you might think the second scenario is easier because you're already inside and it required the least amount of effort. However, you're wrong. With the second scenario the pressure is on. They've already showed enough trust to hear what you've got to say. And if you say the wrong thing, you'll get kicked out. Straight back to the curb.