Hi, my name’s Virginia and I used to be boring.
I’m here today because I get it.
No, I think I finally get it.
Marketing. The science. The art. Its value to humanity. Its relationship building potential. Its place in this whole big world of ours. I get it now.
It started as a directive.
For some time now I’ve watched the number of comments flat line on the blog. Since I took on the job of BCI’s main blogger, page views have been down, comments have been down, and the reputation for being a constant source of search industry insight has all but disappeared. I silently pondered the problem… until Bruce called me out.
Two weeks ago I got an email from the big guy. He had noticed. Where were the comments on the blog? Where were the Sphinns? The social media nods? The community? He asked Susan and I to think of ways to remedy this, to get conversations going, to increase engagement. And there it was. I couldn’t ignore the glaring omission any longer. Something had to be done. But first, we had to figure out what had gone wrong.
The problem was actually obvious.
To me, at least. There had been one very big change and it stood as a clear divider between the time people shared and cared about the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog and the time people, well, stopped. Lisa Barone, long the heart and soul of the blog, had left and taken her loyal readers with her. She’d taken her quirky personality, ruthless pursuit of ethics and insatiable appetite for speaking her mind. And of course, that’s what people were really after when they stopped by.
Luckily for all of us, Lisa wasn’t gone long. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that at her new home, Outspoken Media, she’s more inspiring than ever. Lisa clearly gets it. No, she lives it. There are no half-schemed attempts to fill blank space. Every word channeled through her keyboard adds meaning or perspective or a new dimension to conversation. The people she connects with become more than colleagues — they become friends. Although I had set out to carry on her tradition, I was missing this essential understanding. I was doomed from the start.
So I studied the masters.
Scott Polk turned me on to Gary Vaynerchuk after he returned from Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas last month. Gary had delivered the opening keynote of the conference and he shared with me the video that is available online. Man, that is a keynote. Gary, like Lisa, is someone who gets the power and potential of online relationships. The key, he explains, is that successful communication is based on “cool”, “real” and “authentic” interactions. The Internet is merely a tool for communication. People love each other, and the reason social media has taken off so fast is because we crave connections.
And then it struck me.
I had spent so much time and energy writing content that I had overlooked the point of sharing it. On my social networks I had continually reaped the benefits of the stories and links and opinions shared while rarely ever contributing to the conversation. After taking so much without giving anything back, it could come as no surprise that apathy started to creep in to people’s opinion of the blog — of me.
Yesterday Tony Adam wrote a blog post about a common issue he’s noticed on the social networking front. Too many times he’s seen people growing their network at the expense of building quality relationships. When networks become too big, when the content you’re pushing pollutes feed readers, when value becomes lost in the noise, the odds of really reaching people diminish. I commented that the opposite holds true, too — I see these issues as two sides of the same coin. When the give-and-take nature of communication becomes lopsided the message is lost.
And there you have it. My latest adventure in a journey toward marketing enlightenment. It’s humbling, and I know I’m still learning, but I think I finally get the big picture. The truth I found is that good marketing occurs when everyone wins. It’s not about comments, a paycheck or cleverly crafted prose. It’s about you and me and the electricity we feel when we talk to each other — when we really share.
So let me start. One thing you may not know about me is that I don’t like to make the same mistake twice. I don’t intend to.