This guest post is by Geoff Talbot of SevenSentences.com.
Whether you like it not, social media is taking over Internet.
Research tells us that one in five of every minutes spent online is currently being spent on a social media channel. Business has always been about getting the attention of customers. That’s why the newspaper salesman used to peruse the busy city sidewalks, shouting at the top of their voices “Read all about it! Read all about it! Read all about it!”
The time and place may have changed, but the heart behind the messages that are being shouted at the minions who walk by is still the same.
Businesses, attention hungry artists and entrepreneurs who are building their own platforms are standing on the social sidewalks of cyberspace shouting at the top of their voices. “Look at me! You want this! You need this! Come buy from me.”
The problem is the people on the sidewalk aren’t stopping anymore, there is too much noise, too many interruptions, they’re just covering their ears and walking as fast as they can.
How can an authentic artist, a good business person, or a brilliant entrepreneur actually get traction in this noisy world?
Here are my three secrets for creating an authentic web presence.
1. Leave the sidewalk
You will never get any healthy attention on the sidewalk. It’s time to stop selling, it’s time to go into your storehouse and pull the curtains across the windows and lock the doors. You need to breathe clean air for a while. Some people would call this a social media detox; I think of it more as simply deciding not to swim in shark-infested water.
What is your storehouse?
Your storehouse is your authentic center; it’s who you really are, it’s the reason you went into business, picked up that musical instrument, or came up with that product line in the first place.
Breathe and remember.
The dog eat dog, rabidly competitive world of cyberspace can cause a person to forget their humanity; it caninizes them.
Sometimes we spend so much time on the sidewalk, we forget to look after our storehouse and it gets pretty messy inside. This kind of social media strategy, which focuses more on the market, more than it does on the product and the services you are offering will always end in burn out and decay.
No one else will tell you this BUT I think for the sake of your soul, you need to keep the doors locked until you’ve rediscovered the “real reason why.” The why is always greater than dollars, it’s above status and far out reaches any amount of social significance; the thing that captivated your heart in the first place?
What was it?
Almost certainly it will involve at least one of the following…
- a deep desire to connect with other people in a positive way
- a heart for justice or a desire to improve thing.
- a profound love of creativity.
When you are alone in the quiet of your storehouse, drink deeply from the ancient river of your inspiration. Let the fresh waters wash over you and heal you from the rampant busyness of the sidewalk. Relax; you will know when it’s time to unlock the door.
2. Inviting others in
When you are refreshed and ready, your storehouse although now beautifully in order; it will begin to feel strangely empty, even though it is in fact full. That burning desire to share all you have with others will begin to grow inside you again, until you find it is almost impossible to resist. Yes it is time to re-engage, but it would be foolish to venture out onto the wintery sidewalks of cyberspace again.
What do I suggest?
Go into the kitchen and take your finest cut of lamb out of your refrigerator. Cook that lamb. Let rich aroma of that beautiful meat satiate every corner of your storehouse. Stoke up your fire in the hearth; warm your storehouse to the point of total comfort. Now go to the front door, open it and let the warmth and the rich essence of who you really are spill out onto the sidewalk.
You don’t need to shout anymore, your authenticity, the smell, the warmth of your genuine self, will do all the talking for you. In the cold, wild, attention-grabbing world of cyberspace, you have created a safe haven and a place of nourishment.
The tired, angry, frustrated and cold souls busily marching down the social media sidewalks are desperately in need of what you have to offer. One by one they come in, to escape, to breathe, to get warm again and to gain nourishment and strength. Your website, your business, your product or your song, is so pure in its authenticity that it is just what they needed, it’s literally saving their souls.
Perhaps this is real reason you went into business or picked up that instrument in the first place; to feed the hungry, to bring health to the sick, to be a friend to the lonely?
3. The best messages are whispered between friends
But how will people know if you don’t tell them?
The temptation to shout and move back out onto the sidewalk is very strong BUT shouting nearly always forces a person to cower, step back, or put their hands over their hands. There are very few people who can shout effectively, and why would you want too, when there is a much better way.
The best messages are almost always whispered amongst friends.
It’s the private conversations in cyberspace that will really; truly dictate the success of your business or career.
When you feed people, when you connect with them on a level that goes deeper than simply a product, a business or a song they simply cannot help BUT share their experience with others. And this is the true and democratizing power of social media; not that it connects strangers with strangers; but that it connects friends and that enables friends to share truly good things with each other.
So what does this all mean?
What are the practical implications here?
When there is a lot of shouting, people long for quietness. When there is a lot of incessant selling, people long for generosity. So be authentic and genuine, but also be judicious and intimate. Don’t give pearls to pigs or they will trample what is truly good into the manure of the sty.
In today’s brave new world, perhaps the best way of spreading your message is to insist on keeping it a secret.
Geoff Talbot is a social media consultant based in Portland, Oregon and the creator of SevenSentences.com, an online community for creative people.