The advent of the new media era has changed the way smart people think about marketing. Most new media are purposefully designed to facilitate conversations,allowing participants to share and rebroadcast the words of others with whom they agree (or disagree). In this powerful, democratic way, our mores and ideas about things like merit and authority are being patched together and paved over, layer upon layer. Until recently, this picture was anarchic, and made new media seem unapproachable to those of us that crave structure.
New media has reached critical mass. From this patchwork of layers has emerged a fascinating value system—coherent, but in a constant state of flux. It’s stillmalleable and lawless enough to allow trailblazing, innovation and, of course, exploitation, but finally developed enough for newcomers to learn the ropes before they attempt to do their own thing.
People and businesses of all stripes have realized the marketing opportunities these new media present. But too many of them figure they can simply refocus their current marketing efforts to address these new channels without much thought or development. This approach has failed, and will continue to fail.
New media marketing is about participating in the conversations that will go on with or without us. It’s about understanding what those involved in these exchanges value, what they expect from them, who they listen to, and why.
If we want to successfully market anything to this audience —our products, résumés, candidates, ideas— we need to respect and understand it. This is an audience that values genuine interaction. Its members have little tolerance for the stilted jargon many confuse for professionalism. They want to know what we really think. They expect us to listen, to respond.
New media marketing is thoroughly, refreshingly human. Be 3D.
Dimension 1: Authority
No one is an expert on everything. Chances are, however, that you know quite a bit about your industry or niche. Share it. Brand yourself as an authority by adding value to the conversation. Share your professional insights and build a following of those that wish to learn from you. At the same time, be sure to communicate with peers and leaders alike. Learn when to speak up (when you know what you’re talking about), and when to listen and ask the right questions (when you don’t). Don’t be afraid to show fallibility—asking a great question can demonstrate authority just as well as providing an answer.
New media is not a sales presentation, contrary to popular belief. Trust me, the obviously self-promotional blog comments, posts, and tweets are not getting those guys anywhere. Want to get people to take an interest in whatever it is you’re trying to promote? Answer a question they have about something else. Join a twitter chat and say interesting things. Give someone helpful feedback on their blog posts or intelligently challenge something they write with words of your own. Do it enough and people will look at you and your widgets.
Dimension 2: Personality
This one seems so intuitive; it’s amazing how many get it so painfully wrong. Would you invite a telemarketer or robot into a conversation between humans? Neither would those you’re trying to market to. Show some skin. Be funny, interesting, even self-critical—be authentically human.
Make friends, not sales leads. Part of cultivating a three-dimensional new media presence is recognizing the humanity in others. The friends you make will promote you; rarely will they promote whatever you’re selling. Don’t take advantage of them and ask them to hawk your wares or confuse an endorsement of you with an endorsement of your products. Engage people on the right level and they will be interested in what you do. People love to buy things from those they like. There is no need to push it.
Dimension 3: Consistency
Don’t dabble. Being inconsistent dilutes the perception of authority, and shows others that you don’t value new media. If your last blog post was five months ago, and you’re not turning out good content at regular intervals, delete the blog. The same goes for the twitter account that you use once every 2 weeks. The chance someone will see your biweekly tweets, however profound, is slim to none. To make your new media efforts worth your while, you’ll need to persist in creating and sharing value. Be a frequent contributor to the online conversation, and eventually you’ll be known as such.
Keep your ear to the ground. It’s not just about monitoring what people say about your brand and your competitors. Recognize opportunities to be among the first to comment on industry developments, innovations and other changes that will be talked about. Use amazing free tools like RSS feeds and readers, Google alerts,TweetDeck streams, and start conversations where none exist yet. Be proactive.