Have you ever felt annoyed or bothered by the amount of junk in your Facebook feed or in your email inbox? Some days you may feel like shutting it all down and walking away. What if your own customers or potential customers feel this way about your business or organization? This leads me to ask you: Are your marketing efforts engaging or alienating others?
So how can you tell what alienates and what engages?
I’m not sure that there is one solid answer that applies to all people in all situations. Some people spend many hours a day on Twitter following what others are saying. Some other people may have Facebook accounts that they check only once every few days. Not only do these folks require different methods to market to, but they also have different levels of tolerance.
When you come right down to it, however, marketing messages that are helpful, entertaining, or unique are the ones that engage people. They are the ones that people respond to and share with others. On the other hand, marketing messages that alienate tend to be the ones that overstate, are too frequent, or feel spammy. When I see these kinds of messages coming into my email inbox or on my Facebook feed, I unsubscribe, and I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth about the sender. Of course, the tough part is that what one person finds entertaining, someone else may find annoying.
Why do some organizations alienate?
I don’t really think that anyone sets out to be annoying or alienating in their marketing messages. Rather, I think that most people have the best of intentions and seek to emulate the success of others. Several years ago, when we started hearing that some organizations were finding success sharing news and announcements on Twitter , then others jumped on the bandwagon and sought to tweet their hearts out about everything from what they ate for breakfast to the new carpet in their office. Sometimes, in our culture, the belief is “more is better.” There are so many tweets, status updates, pins, and email newsletters that the we seem to be clogged with information overload. And the only way many organizations see to break through this clog to reach their audience is to add even more to it. I’ve heard the advice—several times—that you just have to be louder and add even more to the overload.
I don’t know about you, but it turns me off. It’s the main reason I’ve changed how I interact on Twitter and LinkedIn. On Twitter, for example, I’ve made special lists that contain only a few experts that I actually enjoy hearing from. I ignore the rest.
How can organizations be more engaging?
This is a question that I think is simpler to answer in broad terms but more difficult to implement specifically. As I always say concerning websites and online marketing, you have to know what works with your customers and potential customers. A good marketer will help you with a specific plan for your organization. A bad marketer will give you a one-size-fits-all solution. I mention this because I don’t believe advice like “You must tweet at least ten times a day” or “You must send out an email newsletter every week” is helpful…unless it is specific for your organization. Perhaps an ice cream parlor would have success tweeting its featured flavors throughout the day, but a financial advisor might not have the same positive effect in tweeting an hour-by-hour blow of the day’s events. I can’t stress enough that your approach needs to be specific to your organization, your intended audience, and your goal for sending these messages.
For example, if you owned a bookstore and you were trying to reach out to readers in your local community to encourage them to shop in your store, you might find a campaign on Facebook and Twitter successful where you advertise new releases, store events, and promotions…not retweeting or reposting pictures of cute animals several times a day (just to meet an certain number of posts). That same bookstore may have a different agenda, however, such as attracting authors to have events at their store. A more professional platform, such as LinkedIn, might be the solution there.
All in all, you’ll find that your marketing messages, whether online, in social media, or more traditional means, will have greater success if you follow a plan specific for your organization. Forget the “more is better” approach, and focus on “quality over quantity.” You’ll be more engaging—and less alienating—when you do.