Not too long ago, I was at a networking event where someone came up to me and said, in an almost confidential tone, “I really hate these things. I hate these people. I’m just here to promote my business.” Then he gave me his elevator pitch, handed me his card and walked away.
I wasn’t surprised. I meet at least one of these people at every event I go to, even at events that are supposed to be about social media. They say things like, “I want bloggers to promote my product, but I don’t want to have to talk to them,” or, “My customers aren’t smart enough to speak for my brand.”
I always hope these people have the decency to fail quickly so that everyone else involved in their venture can move on with their lives.
Brian Solis argues that businesses need to create content so that they can build engagement and eventually develop influence. That might not seem like a terribly radical statement — until you stop to consider that so many social strategies end with simply getting people’s attention. We put so much thought into casting the line that actually reeling in the fish sometimes takes a back seat.
Today I realized that these poor souls that I meet at conventions probably don’t hate the people they’re pitching to — they’re just frustrated because they’re mastered the art of attracting attention without the ability to convert it into influence. They’re missing out on the middle step: Building engagement.
You can’t forbid a person from saying no to you. You can only ever give them reasons to say yes. The best reason to say yes to a person is because you trust them to take care of you. Whether your social-media platform is out there to make sales or provide customer service, you need to take the time to establish that trust. Even if you’re really just trying to “get the word out” about you product, make sure that word feels authentic and trustworthy. Otherwise, you might just find yourself at a bar down the line, horrifying some social-media blogger with stories about how your customers are the stupid ones.
How can businesses make the leap from attracting attention to building trust? Anyone else met a misanthropic salesmen at a social-media event?