You probably suspect by now that I am both strategist and doer, teacher and learner. Nature and nurture engineered me that way. I am naturally curious, interested and willing to try new things. I have a very pragmatic approach to life.
In the past several weeks I have been formulating the internal requirements for a project I will work on as a pilot. In doing that, you have been getting glimpses of what I am thinking, learning, and testing. One of the most endearing or maddening qualities I have is that of asking "why" often and repeatedly. That was one of the reasons my primary school teacher did not like me much - I was too much work!
Today I asked two important questions on Twitter. You will probably appreciate their importance and consequences here as well. The questions were:
- At this stage, in this forum, we actually *want* businesses to figure things out. Agree/disagree?
- If you don't participate, you're invisible. True/not true?
There have been many great responses to each question. Stephen Denny nailed the second from a pure marketing standpoint - if you don't participate, you're invisible.
Are you familiar with research? If so, you probably know that a good gage of consideration and then purchase intent is a measurement of unaided and aided awareness. The lower the awareness among prospects and customers, the lower the likelihood that you'd be top of mind when they need a service or product you also provide. Simply, they either did not know you, or they did not know you did that.
If your company's overall awareness is low, do not start sending out thousands of different messages in lots of different places. For example, if I do not know you, don't throw a whole list of stuff you do at me. I am not going to take any of it in until I notice you, and realize that you may be helpful to me and how.
Look around you and notice all the people who do it right: Chris Brogan, the community and social media builder; Rich Becker, the communicator and teacher; Rebecca Thorman, the Gen-Y inquisitive leader; Liz Strauss, the writer and thinker with the business community; Louis Gray, the early stage tech discoverer and explorer; Maki, the queen of internet marketing advice, I could go on. I just wanted to provide you with a sample diverse enough for you to see good voice along with experienced participation in action.
When you approach one of these professionals, you know what your expectation is. The rest is the experience of them. From that initial point of awareness, you may decide to expand the relationship to other things you did not know they do. You got to them in the first place because there was clarity and direction in what you could expect. This was not invented with social media.
Participation may also mean getting up to speed, learning, monitoring. With a big caveat - at some point, you need to plan to jump in and actually do it. If you're not participating actively, you are invisible and you will be more and more as your competitors are getting known and taking that spot in your prospects' mind.
As my first question stated, we do want businesses to figure things out, step up to the plate, go back to the old ways - a human contact, a hand shake, an acknowledgment that customers are valuable. There are plenty of people and resources out there to help you get started. What you need to decide you will do it and hold yourself to executing. Do you fear failure? We all fail in small ways every day - that's how we grow and learn.
Most people agreed that we do want businesses to participate. If you are waiting for the right moment to jump in - when do you know it's the right moment?