I think it’s a common misconception: companies eschew marketing themselves because they disdain self-promotion. I’ve definitely been in meetings where clients have shied away from what they thought would be “tooting their own horn.”

That’s not at all what marketing or social media engagement should be. NOT AT ALL.

Instead, teach us something. Opine. Shed light. Tell the backstory. Illustrate a point. Give us your take on a national or international brand. Let us get to know you and what you like to do.

Be authentic. Share a lesson learned. Sing a song. Make us laugh.

But really, there’s no need for self-promotion in marketing.

When I was in college (in the early 90s btw — think of me sporting flannel), I was part of a literary group. This group would host a couple of poetry readings each year and one year, one of the goofballs I shared this group with suggested we call the event The Vertical Soup Exchange.

This suggestion was made after the typical round of silly brainstorming, but when he said it, we all said, “Yes. That’s it.” And so it was.

Then, and now, Vertical Soup Exchange means nothing. It’s just a collection of words that sound kind of nice together. But I’ll tell you, it caused MAYHEM.

The administration of the small, private, liberal arts college were convinced (CONVINCED!) that the phrase meant something. They implied that it was possibly dirty. They suggested that it was somehow inappropriate. They made noises about shutting the thing down.

A poetry reading.

What rebels we were.

My point: sometimes there IS NO MEANING. Sometimes, there’s no intent. Be careful when you go looking for hidden meanings; they may all be coming from your head, not the writer’s.

It happened again. In a small town, it’s really not that difficult to network, and network appropriately. Heck, in a large town it’s not that difficult. So much depends on showing up, introducing yourself, and not being a creep.

Sometimes people get overly excited. Sometimes they stray into aggressiveness. Often, this is accompanied by a big leap over a boundary. Let’s review the basics:

  1. Dating sites are for dating. Dates are for getting to know one another for a romantic purpose. Dates are not for business connections, marketing help, free business advice, etc.
  2. LinkedIn, and other business social networks and groups are for business networking. Don’t flirt with people on LinkedIn.
  3. Facebook is for friends and could be for business or dating, depending on how you roll. But it’s NOT for strangers. Don’t confuse being a stranger with being someone’s friend. Don’t confuse a friend of a friend with anything other than a stranger, unless you have some other frame of reference for them. Not all people are good people.

Another creepy incidence I’ve encountered, and forgive me, I’m not being sexist but I’ve truly only had men do this: guys complaining about their wives or girlfriends in a business setting.

HEY GUYS: don’t do this. Not only does it make you look bad, but it appears that you’re fishing for some kind of attention from the females in the room. Because you are. Stop it.

 

This is a common workshop topic, and one of the questions I get asked pretty early on in any client engagement.

What should we be doing in social media? 

Should we have Instagram?

Should we be using Pinterest?

How about Vine?

Have you heard of Swayy (or insert other new social tool here)?

My first answer to this is DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING. There. I said it. The next answer is that it depends on two things: the kind of business you’re in, and the capacity you or your team have to keep up with using multiple tools.

Before you consider adopting multiple tools, platforms, apps, etc. answer this:

Do you have a blog? 

It’s still the first tool to master. It’s still the core of your social strategy. It’s still the ONE THING you must get done for search engine optimization, to establish your company as authentic and thoughtful. It’s still the place where you will prove that your team includes thought leaders in your industry. It’s still where you can tell the story of how your company does what you do better/differently/faster/with more credibility than others out there. Before you start using a Facebook page, tweeting, Instagramming, etc., make sure you’re publishing a valuable blog.

My boyfriend (yes, I have a boyfriend) came up with an ingenious idea. He tries to knock off two annoying things per day. What’s an annoying thing, you may ask? A sample:

  • A call to the cable company
  • Any interaction with your health or other kind of insurance
  • Any legal loose ends
  • Returning something that doesn’t fit or is broken
  • A visit to the DMV
  • Mailing or shipping a physical package at the post office or UPS

Everyone has these tasks to complete and if they build up, it can get pretty overwhelming. Thus the two-a-day rule. I’ve been trying it and you know, it’s really helping. I feel pretty virtuous at the end of the day when I can report into him that I’ve crossed two annoying things off my list.

We decided yesterday that any call to the cable company counts as two, by the way, so if you feel like trying it out, feel free to adopt that caveat!

Try it — tell me what you think. I’m really trying to keep it up — and it seems there’s ALWAYS two things I can find that qualify by the end of every day.