Are You There In That Moment?

Several headlines/links float through my Twitter stream every second.  Most of them I glance at, maybe favorite to read later or if they are really compelling, I’ll click through and take a look now.  90+% I just let float by.   Same with TV commercials or print ads or even songs on the radio, just about anything type of media I consume.  Most of it floats in “one ear and out the other” metaphorically speaking.

It is not that they are bad headlines.  It is not that the articles are not meaningful.  It is not that the commercials are not entertaining.  It is just a matter of timing.  My brain, like those of every human, has been conditioned to be drawn to the thing that we most need IN THAT MOMENT.

How often do you stop and think about what the customer you are trying to attract needs IN THAT MOMENT.   When I think about a business’ failure to give a customer what they need or most want IN THAT MOMENT, an image that constantly comes to mind is the store changeover at the end of a holiday.

I walked into a major drug store chain on December 26th and the previous holiday items were already gone and they were on to Valentine’s Day.   They were rushing me into THEIR schedule.  Never paying attention to what I needed IN THAT MOMENT (which, coincidentally, happened to be a New Year card) They were forcing me to jump immediately into the next thing because it was what was on their schedule… not mine.

Digitally we see it all the time. Another great example –  I saw my first “year end wrap-up/year in review/lessons we learned in the past year” posts before the end of October!  In this industry staying current and knowing what worked and didn’t in social media in the past year is important stuff, but I don’t need a year end wrap-up in October.  I need it at the end of December because at the speed digital moves, what you wrote in October is unlikely to be accurate or relevant by the end of December.   We do such a disservice to our current, future and potential customers when we fail to pay attention to what they need IN THAT MOMENT.

Our failing to give our customers what they need IN THAT MOMENT is rooted in our general failure to pay attention to what they need and our insistence on giving them what we think they should need.  The sad reality about all business today is we are so busy trying to be/do/say/deliver the next big thing and make a buck that we rarely really ask ourselves – Is this…

  1. something that our customers really want or need
  2. is it something they need now

So what is it that your current or potential customers need?  Are you giving them access to it when they need it or when you think they should need it?  Are your messages relevant to them IN THAT MOMENT or are they memorable enough that they will remember them when they need your product or service?  Have you learned to walk that fine line between inundating (and probably annoying) them with messages they don’t need IN THAT MOMENT and making sure you are top of mind when they do what you have to sell?

All tough questions that can be fairly easily answered by talking to your customers and asking them.  When was the last time you actually did that?

So who is your voice?

This post was inspired by a question that appeared on one of my email lists this morning.  I have retained the content of the conversation but the names have been removed to protect the innocent.

Innocent #1:  does anyone know where to buy pre-written tweets organized around specific topics? For example, say I want to buy 100 tweets about beer, or autos, or whatever, that I can download and then schedule through <insert twitter client here>. Thanks.

Me: Why would you want to do that?  It defeats the whole purpose of social media which is to be social and hold a conversation.  As a social media consultant, I can tell you that anyone who would sell you that type of list or service is a snake oil salesman.

Innocent #1: Gloria, you’re right, social media is about holding a conversation. I’m looking for something to get the conversation started. Simple tweets that are relevant to my business and that my followers would find interesting.

Me: If your purpose is to get the conversation started about your business, then those tweets need to come from you and your business, not some generic service.  People respond to people.  People do business with people they like and trust.  You need to be the one developing your company’s social media voice, not someone who knows nothing about you or your business.  If you need assistance with that, it is fine to hire someone to help you find that voice and figure out how to use the tools, but not for someone to be that voice for you.

I’m sorry if I sound like i am preaching or on a soap box, but it is a subject that myself and most of the leaders in the social media community are very passionate about.  There are people who are using the medium solely as a way to make money without keeping the spirit of the medium and the best interests of their clients at heart.

Innocent #2: God forbid someone actually make money on “_______” list.

Me: Not my point at all. I am all for all of us making money, but there is an ethical way to do it.  That way means providing a good product or service, being honest and keeping our clients or customers best interests at the forefront of our minds.  When you misrepresent yourself or your company, which is what “ghost tweeting” or “ghost blogging” does, then you are not being honest with your clients, customers or audience.

So my question to you is Who is your voice?  Am I wrong to feel that the voice should come from the person or persons who know the business the best? What are your thoughts on buying a list of pre-written tweets?