Turn off your marketing, or they’ll do it for you

If you clutter the digital airwaves with "noise" people will put you on mute.Across all the business articles and blogs I read last week, I started noticing a crescendo of comments about shifts in online behaviour. A lot of it had to do with people being too busy to read and retain all the information coming at us. Some of it also had to do with businesses manically (also maniacally) using social media and digital marketing because they feel they should rather than going into it with a clear, purposeful message and intent to engage and interact.

Campaigns compete for “Likes” and we peddle information with the zeal of street vendors, hungry to capture attention and monetize intellectual assets. And part of the problem is that companies really and truly believe that what they are doing, and what they have to say or share is important. I’ve been guilty of this, too, so I’m pointing the critical eye right back at myself in this post.

Here’s a thought – a lot of what clutters our news streams is not that important. Important is feeding and clothing our families. Important is educating people to think independently and instilling values of integrity and social responsibility in current and future generations. Important is connecting and building lasting relationships with family and friends. Important is feeling genuinely happy/amused/interested/concerned when we see news from someone we know. Everything else is just window dressing…or worse, completely irrelevant.

*End rant, cue rough segue back to original point.*

Facebook fatigueOne article I read last week talked about the changes in how women in particular use social sites and that there’s a growing focus on niche sites. I’ve also heard lots of chatter about teens migrating to Tumblr for the party atmosphere, while approaching Facebook like it’s their parents’ dinner party that they’re obligated to attend. In general, people of all ages are starting to feel “Facebook fatigue” and take breaks from (or fully break up with) this platform. Jeff Bullas published an article about blogging influence that started to connect the dots for me across all of the information I gathered, and got me thinking about what all of *this* means in terms of influencing behaviour.

Taking a big step back, what does all of this information tell us? In my mind, I’ve been pinning all these little snippets together (visualize that other, online playground) and starting to see a broader picture of what the future is likely going to hold for digital marketing.

Here’s what I see – I predict a radical change over the next 3 years in how companies will want [need] to market to customers online…and I’m going to call it “not marketing to customers online.” Actually, I’m just going to call it what it is – back-to-basics relationship building. We will need to rethink marketing to the point where we scrub the current definition from our vocabulary and business practices. Let’s face it, no one wants to be marketed to today. I feel like “marketing” is becoming a pejorative that people equate with having to unsubscribe from email lists, turn off notifications on Facebook, and mentally mute anything that doesn’t apply to their immediate needs. More and more, people will continue to filter out push marketing and gravitate towards brands that provide the right information, at the right time, through the right channels which will more and more lean towards warm referrals.

Step up your game.Before marketing people start getting nervous about job security (or start throwing sticks at me), I’m not suggesting that the roles required for marketing are going away or diminishing. What I believe is that we need to wear our marketing responsibilities more boldly and strategically. We need to step up our game and advise clients about building client relationships and tapping into these relationships with tactics that are helpful rather than annoying. Scott Stratten says it quite well in his book titled “Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.” He writes, “When you position yourself as an expert in the field, your message is not only in front of people who want to see it, but have asked to learn about it.” Brilliant. Simple. But it takes time and effort. Here are a few other thoughts I had:

Thought #1

I will listen to a trusted source – friend, family or business person who has bothered to ask me how my day is going – before I will listen to a brand or business even if they’re selling exactly what I need.

Thought #2

If you cast a wide net with your content, people will swim through your equally wide net holes. Be specific in who you want to reach, and look for smaller, more personal opportunities to connect.

Wading through excessive online contentThought #3

I don’t want to shouldn’t have to wade through my newsfeed with two full swipes or scrolls to get past pushy content. From my perspective, it’s ok if someone I know is sharing a link or image – to me that’s curated content and I’ll probably glance at it. What I’m talking about are brands that share mundane information and tack on phrases like “exciting news” and add in a bunch of words in caps or exclamation marks. That is really not exciting. Unless your post is going to make me take notice or fill a need I have, please don’t feel compelled to share it.

Thought #4

The harder a brand tries to be visible, especially with non-critical information, or share information in non-targeted forums – the more invisible they are.

Turn off your marketing, or they’ll do it for youWith many social media users becoming increasingly selective about what they allow into their streams of news and updates, companies will need to be equally as selective and critical about what they publish. I’m not sure why this isn’t happening already, but I think that natural selection will start to show businesses what’s working and what they need to change – if they care enough to pay attention and put some effort into it.

At the end of the day, if you get it right, you’ll earn trust and be rewarded with loyalty. If you’re not building relationships and contributing value to nurture these connections, you will be put on mute.

Now, what do you think? If you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them…even if you’re going to tell me that I’m out to lunch. Let’s talk! You can post a comment below, and I’m also on Twitter and Facebook…if you can get past all the other stuff on there ; )

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Comments

  1. darinc204 says:

    You make some great points here Roshan. Content has to have genuine value. Simple fact now is that the more integrity branded content has – the better it works as a marketing and PR tool.

    • Thanks, Darin! Appreciate you reading my post and taking the time to comment. There is such a fine line between some marketing activities – it can be tricky to find the balance between sharing and pushing, between relationship building and coming across as “clingy.” If you do focus on the integrity of the content and your intentions, you will more likely gain positive attention and earn a following. Kind of like what you all are doing with brighterlife.ca 🙂 Thanks again for your thoughts!

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