Social media networking: about this “strategy” thing

I listen to MP3s in my car that I have randomly downloaded from diverse sources. I am indiscriminate in my downloading and not too fussy about what I listen to till the bitter end. I have pretty low standards for when I skip to the next item without enduring the currently playing teleseminar till the sign-off.

In other words, I sit through stuff that is inoffensive though not exceptionally instructional, often hearing the same old bromides presented as though they are jewels of wisdom.

This week I listened to a panel of experts reveal how to use social media networking to build your coaching business and generate profits strategically.

This panel was assembled and moderated by a rather big-name coach whom I respect. So I was somewhat surprised when the first speaker stated (and the following two speakers concurred) that social networking is largely about giving to others without thought of receiving.

Their comments suggested that they are not very precise in the connections they pursue, using online tools that deliver categories of potential connections rather than tightly targeted leads.

To put it bluntly, their strategy is to be unstrategic.

At this moment, my connections on the Big Three (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) are nothing to brag about. Especially Twitter, which for me has grown to a sizable follower count but relatively few messages of interest.

So while I can’t claim expert status at this time, I understand what is going on well enough to begin clarifying how I plan to rework my lists.  I plan to isolate the strategic relationships from the miscellanea, which will take research and effort.

Social networking can serve many roles beyond business, from keeping in touch with friends and family to enjoying hobby interests. All of these interests are fine but they don’t count as work. And they don’t count as marketing.

It’s quality of connections, not quantity.

What would Betty Friedan do?

The panel referred to at the beginning of this article is not unusual. I’ve heard the same advice repeatedly. And I notice that a majority of those giving this advice are female (though I don’t have precise figures).

I don’t think this is coincidence. Stay with me here for some historical perspective.

My early formative years preceded the modern women’s movement, which kicked off with the publication of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique in 1963. I was raised to consider teaching and nursing as my career choices.

As women’s lib developed, women’s constricted career ambitions were attributed to the lack of role models. Most women didn’t see women doctors, lawyers and business executives so they did not aspire to these careers themselves, said feminists.

But there’s another reason why women were drawn to certain jobs. They were subtly yet powerfully steered toward the feel-good of helping professions regardless of low pay.

When I was in college, almost every woman, when asked to explain how she chose a career direction, responded that she was studying teaching, nursing, social work or whatever to “help people.” Men rarely cited this reason behind career decisions, or at least they weren’t so altruistic as to ignore income potential. Doctors cure people, lawyers defend the innocent, but these professionals (usually male at the time) saw no conflict between helping others and high income goals. In female professions, it was bad form to even talk about income expectations.

So now we have lots of people teaching strategic social marketing who favor almost indiscriminant helping and befriending with minimal strategy. And by the way, many of these “people” just happen to be women.

Am I on to something or all wet? What do you think?

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9 responses to “Social media networking: about this “strategy” thing

  1. Hey Diana,

    Excellent, thought provoking article. And I always enjoy your wit and lack of pretension.

    I’ve been in marketing for more years than I care to admit: big companies and small.

    Big businesses tend to spend too much time on strategy.
    Small businesses tend not to spend any time.

    Both are deadly but especially for small businesses which have zero margin for error.

    I think when we owners of small businesses do not think through who we want to spend precious time with we are abdicating our roles as “captains” of our little ships.

    I dislike cold-hearted, calculated “what have you done for me lately” type interactions. It’s nice to have a little room for whimsy and serendipitous connections but my emphasis is on “little.”

    Don’t know if this is a woman’s issue or just people getting caught up in the social media hype
    but I’m with you: part of our responsibility as business owners to is make sometimes hard decisions re who we serve (or don’t serve).

    This extends to all activities…even (or especially) social media.

    BTW, have you considered posting this article in a local newspaper or a trade publication? I think you speak for a lot of people who otherwise may be fearful of speaking up because they’ll be labeled as “scared” or “stodgy”

  2. Nice article. I also found it thought-provoking. I’ll have to think about this.

    They also say that women text much more than men do. A related phenomenon? I, myself, hate texting. I find it very time-consuming and would much rather make a call or use voice mail. But I do like contact by email, mainly because it’s convenient. I will email instead of calling if an immediate response is not necessary. (Perhaps it’s my INTJ personality!) But I do find texting a nuisance.

    The question, I think, is do male practitioners of attraction marketing also advocate giving to others freely? Apparently not. It should be like a “loss leader.” You offer something for free – if you think you’ll gain in the long run.

    I’ve become much more mercinary myself. I’ll happily help at no cost my friends or a small number of people who, for whatever reason, resonate with me. But for most people I meet today, it’s quid pro quo – if I do something for you or offer valued information at not cost, I most definitely expect something in return.

  3. I think NO ONE knows how to get business value from these new tools. But you’re more sensitive to it when said by women.

    Men say it too.

  4. Most assuredly a touchy subject here, Diana, and definitely two schools of thought with no middle ground whatsoever.

    To me, using social media marketing without a strategy is like spitting in the wind. I’d rather be sure of the direction of the wind! 🙂

  5. Peg, another factor may be that I follow more women experts on social media networking than men. Yes, some male experts say the same thing as the women.

  6. Judy, posting this article in a local newspaper or trade publication is an interesting idea.

    I don’t worry as much about being labeled as “scared” or “stodgy” as I worry about being labeled “old.” I see people over age 40 or perhaps over 50 who make a special effort to be wildly enthusiastic about anything techy so they don’t come across as out of touch.

    By the way, my 6 children / stepchildren (all in their twenties) have minimal to no presence on Twitter. They see it as an “old people thing.”

  7. Andrea Stenberg, The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur, had an excellent article on her blog today about social networking:

    Andrea is unique in clearly stating that to develop a relationship past Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, you must pick up the phone or meet face to face.

  8. BTW – submitting your article to the newspaper – good idea. But I also wondered if you print out your best articles or blog items and pass them out in person at meetings, etc.

    I tried this for the first time yesterday. I’ll have to see if anything happens but the reaction was very interesting. I belong to a networking/trade group for corporate communicators and last night’s night seminar was about networking. Being slow on the uptake, it dawned on me a day or two before the seminar to print out an article I wrote over a year ago about networking (called “Networking 101”) and pass it out at the seminar. It didn’t “look” like marketing since it was topic-related. (The article is also general enough that I think I can use it in other contexts.)

    I was amazed (and amused) by the reaction. (Some of the points the seminar presenter talked about had actually been addressed in the article. I hope people see that.) People were interested and eager to get a copy! I had been afraid of being perceived as “too pushy,” but since it was topic-related, it “fit” the situation. It was ironic to see 20 people actively asking for a copy (of course my name and website were on it) when I’ve been struggling for more than a year to try and get more publicity out of it (it had been printed in the local paper, but they refused to identify my company and website in the article) and thinking about various marketing strategies. It went over like free candy!

    So, by all means, submit your article to the newspaper, but also pass out hard copies of relevant articles at various meetings, seminars, etc. if you don’t already do this.

    It seems so obvious, but I’m a slow learner!

  9. Michele,

    This is brilliant! It totally makes sense but I’ve never seen anyone do this at a meeting Great idea!!!

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