An improv actor told me something interesting recently.
Part of a weekly radio variety show here in Portland called Live Wire Radio, he shared the differences between Friday and Saturday night audiences.
Friday audiences, he said, are quiet, polite listeners. Saturday audiences are responsive and energetic.
Fridays, he said, are challenging because you never really know how things are going.
Saturdays, on the other hand, provide feedback galore, an improv actor’s dream.
This actor was visiting my agency, conducting a workshop about communication. In one of its exercises, we were asked to interact one-on-one with a colleague outside our immediate group, someone we don’t know well.
While one of us described the previous day’s events (“I woke up late, brushed my teeth, went to work, worked on…”), the listener couldn’t acknowledge the conversation. No nods, no uh-huhs, just a motionless stare.
I was the listener, and found that by removing conversational queues, I lost the ability to recall details. Suppressing reciprocity or engagement of a normal dialog in turn suppresses the conversation itself, making it irrelevant, valueless.
Social Media False Positives
Here on NaturalApertures, I rail against a damaging behavior photographers adopt when turning to social media for self-promotion.
In short, photographers use social media as an outbound push model, in the process creating a monologue that disregards the importance of reciprocity in social marketing.
At the heart of the issue is this: social connections don’t equate to social engagement.
Still, all the time, photographers (and others) on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere celebrate milestone follower counts. In terms of pursuing business objectives, these numbers are false positives.
In other words, follower counts, as a metric, don’t indicate whether your social marketing reaches or engages qualified prospects.
“Social connections don’t equate to social engagement.” (tweet this)
The Reciprocity Factor
The reality for photographers (and others) is that within our social circles will always be a core group who respond to outbound communications, but this in and of itself isn’t a marketing win.
Nothing is inherently wrong with social self-promotion, but social media is not a push advertising model. It’s an engagement model.
This means four things for photographers who seek to attract customers online.
Selling in social media is really about solving problems.
If the substance of your online presence is your photographs, and through your use of social media you intend to attract more customers, change your thinking. Do it now.
When our photographs become the substance of our online presence, we make our work more important to customers than customers are to us. Prospects are online to solve their problems, and self-promotion does nothing to create connections with them.
“Selling in social media is really about solving problems.” (tweet this)
Understand customer problems to solve them.
Until we develop an objective view of who we’re trying to serve, it’s impossible to provide valuable information that solves problems. Until we close this value knowledge gap, we cannot communicate and engage effectively.
Turn customer insights into content people consume and share.
Content that excites people is fundamental to creating online visibility, and a critical first step (of eight) that photographers who sincerely desire to attract customers via online marketing must make.
Content, in this context, is not photography. Our photographs, ultimately, might help close sales, but they’re not what make us findable when people search the web for solutions (read Bob’s Customer Journey for a literal example of this concept).
Incorporate reciprocity into social interactions.
Question: How can we help customers solve problems if we’re not listening?
Answer: We can’t (but could with a simple tweak).
By turning the outbound push model into an engagement model fueled by listening for people talking about problems that we can solve with a relevant response (and kick-ass content), we truly engage. We turn the notion of push into the one of help, which is what creates customers.
Share your thoughts. Do you practice reciprocity in your use of social media? Do you extend this beyond thanks people for like, +1s and RTs by listening and then engaging with something useful?
- Is This The End of Twitter As We Know It?
- What The New Twitter Filter Means For Photographers
- Social Media Killed the Hard Sell
- Why Posting Your Top Photos of the Year Is Bullshit
- Eight Essentials to Marketing Your Photography Online