The Social Landscape of the Internet Is Circular

Let's take a look at history.

The history of the Internet.

And the history of the gathering of people.


Don't worry. I'll keep it short.

Before the internet people used to meet in person. And they did it in proximity to one another. Or they went to great lengths to meet in person with other people from far away lands using planes, trains, and automobiles. This was reserved for the most important stuff like family, business, or special events.

Then the internet came along. People talked to each other online. They met online. This allowed them to "meet" people without restrictions like proximity or travel.

And they did it with people of similar interest. They used tools like Meetup and Ning. They used email. They used MySpace and later Facebook.

They built tribes. Tribes around interests, hobbies, and learning.

Tribes had leaders who were passionate about their topic as much as they were passionate about the people in their tribes.

But something's happened. There's been a change.

In Houston we're seeing some really interesting things come out of face to face meetings and networking events. It's around startups or businesses. There are tons of meetings happening weekly.

When was the last time you logged onto Meetup? It's amazing.

Your business is likely seeing a paradigm shift that has it's roots in this full circle movement.

I believe it's because we all want to feel even more connected. Which is kinda crazy if you think about it. I mean, I have access to hundreds of thousands of people simply by logging onto Twitter. Yet I too crave the in person meetings.

I want to know that there's a real person behind the brand. And I'm not alone. It's highly likely you do as well.

Your customers want that. They want to know that you're not talking to the masses. You're talking to them. Individually.

They want to shop local. Artisan bakeries, hand-crafted goods, tailored services. All of these things are coming back, especially in urban areas, because people want authenticity.

It's full circle. We were excited about the anonymity of the web. Then the reach. But it's too impresonal. And people are feeling that.

They want to have real experiences.

Your brand can give it to them.

Utilize local SEO to enhance your local tribe. Utilize social media to talk to the most passionate people in your niche.

Use a voice that encompasses emotionally-intelligent content to teach and entertain them.

When you can do those things you've helped ensure that you have just as strong a local tribe as a global tribe. And with that, you can move the world.

Not Everyone Is Your Customer And Why That's Better Than Okay

There's a problem that most entrepreneurs face every day.

"How do I get more customers?"

Or

"How do I get my company in front of the right people?"

Same coin. Different sides.

There are variances of course. But for the most part you're all looking for an audience.

In the past, someone would likely advise you to advertise to a large audience in T.V. in the "right time slot" or a "good demographic". Perhaps it was placing an ad in the yellow pages or the newspaper.

But you can't do that anymore and expect great results. Because those mediums speak to the masses. And your product or service doesn't.

No matter what you think or what anybody's told you NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CUSTOMER.

I repeat this because it's important.

Your product, your service, your business isn't for everyone.

And that's okay. In fact, it's better than okay. It's perfect.

Because when you try to please everyone you please no one. Not even Wal-Mart markets to everyone. Neither does Coca-Cola. Looking for smaller examples? Fine. Paypal doesn't do it. Neither does Square. Or Starbucks. Or Whole Foods. Or Bob's Better Burger. Sprinkles.

Think of your favorite product. Their parent company doesn't market to everyone. They market to you.

You.

That's the key. We, as a people, are a different breed of consumers and our attention is all over the place.

The value of popularity is changing. Niche is in. Small is the new big.

The nerds and geeks now rule the world. What ever happened to the prom queen? Who cares?

The beauty of realizing that you have a niche business with a specific audience is that you're much closer to realizing a better return on your money when you put it towards targeted marketing.

Wouldn't you rather invest $5000 to a highly targeted audience who is already part of the conversation around your product than to throw that money on an ad where they give you vague demographics?

That's where smart targeting comes in. That's where engaging online, in social media, on niche websites, and creating content tailored to that audience comes in.

Content marketing. Engagement marketing. Social Media marketing. It all points back to ensuring that the people who are interested in your business can find you. Your product has a place in the larger picture of the audience online.

I bring this up because I run into startup founders or small business owners who still don't fully understand.

One of the first questions I ask during a meeting is "Who is your product/service/business for?" or some similar question that helps me locate their niche.

Too many times I run into the answer "Everyone".

Or maybe they've whittled it down a tiny bit. "Everyone who uses ______" or "People who live in ______".

But that's not small enough. It doesn't help to think that your product has to be popular with the masses.

It only has to be popular in your small niche. Then you have the chance to be the authority of that niche. You can control the conversation around that topic. Your business becomes synonymous with that engaged and passionate community.

That's how today's small businesses thrive. That's how today's startups get their fist 10,000 customers. By going hard after their niche. But doing it in a way that engages with humanity and empathy.

Boil down who your product is really for. You can't be everything to everyone.

Never Use Absolutes Online. Ever.

I used to have this bad habit of using absolutes. All. The. Time. I would tell people what to always do or what to never do.

  • Everyone's target market is online.
  • Always be transparent.
  • Never take the first offer.
  • There's a price for everything.

Then I started listening to myself. I went back and read some old posts on ancient websites and thought "what an ass!" because who the hell talks like that?

So I adjusted. I started saying things like "mostly" and "often" and "very likely". 

I started leaving wiggle room for exceptions.

Because the Interwebs don't forget. And people take things literally. People will call you out when you're wrong and point out exceptions. 

There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule.

But here's the problem with "wiggle room". It leaves ROOM for lots of things. Like doubt. And excuses. 

Especially excuses. 

I was speaking to a small business owner who contacted me for marketing consulting and we were discussing Facebook as part of his strategy. He didn't want to do it. He had a friend, in a completely unrelated industry, who was doing their own marketing and skipping Facebook. And they were doing well enough. They were concentrating on LinkedIn and it made sense for that B2B industry.

I still think his friend could add Facebook to their marketing strategy but I can see their logic.

My prospective client had found the exception to the rule that allowed him to ignore a huge potential boon to his business. His potential clients ARE on Facebook. Not just because "everyone is on Facebook" but because his demographic data screamed it at us. 

He's going to miss out big time if another marketing consultant isn't able to convince him that Facebook is a solid strategy for him. Maybe it takes some testing or some other type of convincing but it's not going to be me. And that's okay. Because he's not ready. Not yet.

Some people will never be convinced.

EVERYONE is NOT your customer. THAT is ALWAYS true.

So where do we live between those walls of absolutism and "wiggle room". How do we make our decisions? Do we follow the guidance of the gurus to the letter? Or do we look for all of those exceptions to the rules to guide us?

Do we live by the data or do we die by our gut?

What about you? Do you follow all rules or find the ways to break them? Do you look for exceptions or excuses?

How Lack of Trust Can Negatively Effect Your Search Engine Ranking

How Lack of Trust Can Negatively Effect Your Search Engine Ranking

Marketing your small business is rooted in creating lasting and trusting relationships with your prospects and customers. Google understands this. Bing understands this. Do you?