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wussI recently received a comment chastising me for suggesting that your web site should be a trap from Peter Johnston, who said, “This attitude has no place in modern marketing. In a social world, trapped customers scream loudly enough for everyone to hear. The short term gain and the thrill of ‘we got one’ is rapidly replaced by a dearth of future prospects.” Firstly, Peter didn’t read the article at all because it’s not about that; secondly, I think this sort of mindset is wussy and misinformed. This sort of general point-of-view is actually dangerous for anyone who actually wants to be successful using social media as a marketing platform.

People generally only act like wusses if they’re afraid and there’s really no reason to be so scared of the Internet. Social media is people and not a pit full of vipers. And I am not advocating being an ass, a jerk, or a douchebag, I am just suggesting that you stand up for yourself. Only guilty, slimy, and insecure people skulk around like the hyenas and jackals they are — embrace your inner lion, tiger, cheetah, and wolf. And, when you’re ready, become the Honey Badger (take your time, that’s pretty advanced stuff).

But you have to be tough because you’re not simply competing for attention with the people on your block. Or your village. Or town, city, region, state, or country. Potentially, you’re competing with everyone who offers anything in English, for us English-speakers. Half of my tech gear and gadgets are drop-shipped directly from China via eBay. If you can’t compete on price alone, you need to learn to connect, to be recognized, become favored, and then loved.

backbone-pnYour most devoted clients and customers will imprint on you. Your goal is to elbow your way in there so that you can be the one on whom they imprint. It’ll be you or someone else. Make it you. Don’t let them see you sweat, but don’t just sit there looking pretty. It doesn’t work. Why?

Well, there’s zero barrier-to-entry online. As a result, social media is oppressively noisy. Being a wuss might result in nobody being angry with me but it won’t bring any meat home to my tribe at the end of the day. Revenue is the bottom line for everything in business, no matter how well-disguised in the form of sweetness and light — especially when it comes to selling, marketing, and building thought leadership.

Even being wussy should be intentional and not the default. When you’re doing brand protection or customer service, even I have a apt sayings such as “hugs not horns” and “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” In the case of assisting someone who has already experienced your brand and is lost, curious, frustrated, confused, hurt, ornery, or angry, needs kid gloves and an immediate solution.

However, when it comes to selling and marketing, you need to think of online brand promotion more in terms of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) where you and your social media marketing campaign are a floor broker and you need to get your clients orders in. I hate to be cloying but social media marketing success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, ie. getting off your duff, stop primping, being pretty, and sitting there waiting for the phone to ring and get our there and make some noise!

I am not suggesting to be rude but I am suggesting that if you’re not getting a little bit of blowback at all, you’re not doing it right. I have been speaking to a bunch of social media people recently and they’re really super-careful and afraid of offending something they call a “sensibility.” This is the same nervous sycophancy that people have been professing and preaching from the birth of the Internet and from the birth of history.

The Internet is a disrupting medium — social media doubly so. Being afraid of your own shadow is the opposite of disruption. I just won top-100 guerrilla social media marketer in the world and that wasn’t because I was nice, careful, or shy — it was because I make my way to the head of the line, to the front of the crowd, and even cut in line as often as possible by leveraging my relationships through favors and friendship.

My number one rule is: ask for stuff. I learned this in my 20s: people like being asked for favors, asked for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you look weak, it makes you look resourceful. And, generally speaking, people love helping, especially when helping you is easy for them (most things that are hard for me are impossibly simple for folks I know).

Second rule is: Engage! Are people discussing your company, your product, your services, or you? Feel free to interrupt conversations that are already in progress. Because there will never be a good time to participate. Because a couple folks involved might not like your interruption and consider you rude. It doesn’t matter if those folks might be competitors, who knows?

It doesn’t matter that 1%-10% of everyone online grouses at just about anything and everything. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. And it’s not nearly that scary or dangerous, my friends. A lot of it is more about stress-testing you to see what kind of person you are. A little bit of hazing to see if you can take a punch or if you’re just going to log-off immédiatement! Tout de suite!

Are you tough? Do you spook easily?

So much of the time they’re just testing your mettle and you’re bolting in tears, afraid of blow-back, with your tail between your legs (even now, I am baiting you and just plain curious to see if you can take a joke, Peter Johnston, you minx) and pull all your resources out of social media because “it’s not worth the risk,” or so say your managers and counsel. Oh for heaven’s sake.

Third rule is: Reach out! Outreach is the lifeblood of social media engagement. The only pretty boys and girls who really mean anything nationally and internationally are the beautiful ones who have already been discovered.

There are millions of beautiful — downright gorgeous — humans on planet earth, and yet charm, beauty, talent, and prowess rarely if ever mean anything without fame. With fame, being pretty is maybe enough; however, it isn’t as even the most famous, beautiful, talented, and charming celebrities globally still spend loads of money on publicists — it’s true.

youre-a-douchebagAll of that is just an analogy for your brand. You may think you’re talented, charming, innovative, creative, successful, ambitious, and beautiful enough to compel customers to search you, find, choose, and hire you — but you’re probably not because even all of those companies, brands, talents, and creatives you so admire and look up to are spending multiple-thousands of dollars on speaking and book tours, on advertising and marketing, on press releases and phone calls to TMZ, on false-flag controversies done to excite attention, and all sort of very seedy, aggressive, and shameless shenanigans in order to make it to the top of the news or onto page 3.

If you think the paparazzi are evil and celebrities are victims, you’re too naive to be reading this, please click over to Highlights magazine because I surely don’t want to be the one who takes your innocence. I might mess up Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Faerie for you if you read further (spoiler alert: they don’t exist).

So, if you don’t have the stones to get out there to identify your target market or markets, find out who the top influencers are, find out where they live online and what they’re saying, and then discovering how to contact them, be it via email, forms, on Daily Mile, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever — and then reach out and say hello. Not so much Peer-to-Peer (p2p) but PR-to-Peer (PR2P*).

I was going to say that the fourth rule is to share, but you’re all doing that. But you get it wrong. All you do is make it shareable. All you do is make it as easy as possible but sharing your content not only on your own site and blog but also across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even reddit, digg, Newsvine, YouTube and anywhere else. However, after all that work, so what?

If you only have 200 followers on each of your platforms, the likelihood of anyone actually stumbling upon your little squeak amongst the roars is downright negligible — and it doesn’t matter how well you orchestrate, how memetic your kitten graphic is or how revolutionary your infographic, it won’t matter. “Why not?” you ask, indignant and insulted. Well, I explain it in great detail in my recent post “If you perform only to an empty house your show will close.”

At the end of the day, you have to decide what you’re going to do.

shyIt’s all totally embarrassing if you’re shy (and I can almost guarantee that most Online Community Managers are introverted by nature) and afraid of rejection or confrontation. Just because you’re afraid of engaging influencers online or interrupting in conversations or really pushing your message deep and hard, you can’t just redouble or retriple your efforts by blogging, tweeting, sharing, and Facebooking more and better.

You’re still going to need to get off your duff, as I instruct in Being Pretty Isn’t Enough for Social Media Marketing, or you’ll be playing your Stradivarius for passersby at best and at worst, alone in your room — always hoping to be discovered but forever frustrated.

Even worse than being frustration, at some point your boss is going to either fire you, axe the social media budget, or abandon it completely. Not because buzz marketing, social media marketing, digital PR, or guerrilla marketing doesn’t work but because you didn’t do a good enough job working it.

Social media marketing: it works if you work it.

* Too late, I just registered pr2p.com

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Chris Abraham

About Chris Abraham

A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.

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