Last night I dreamed I was being chased (and subsequently bitten) by an Indonesian Komodo dragon while at the home a friend from high school.
I’ve never seen a Komodo dragon ‘in person’ (is it even possible to see a lizard in person?…but I digress…), and I haven’t been in the same room with this particular friend for, oh, 20-ish years. Yet thanks to an online report I read a couple days ago about Komodo dragon attacks in Indonesia and last night’s Facebook posting by that high school friend, I had the mental makings for an interesting dream—starring some unlikely characters.
That’s the power of online content and social media!
Admittedly, this is an outlandish example. Does a dream about a venomous lizard and a pal from high school really reflect any usable truths about the messaging power of the Web? Wacky though it may be, I contend it’s a good example of what can happen when we use online communications to make daily connections.
It’s about “top of mind awareness,” after all.
When we’re looking for information, making selections or seeking interaction, we refer to the first few search results, grab the package at the front of the fridge or call somebody in our Top 5. (Why else would shelf placement at the grocery store be such an issue? Brands will do what it takes to be front, center, eye-level and easy to reach.) Sometimes we actively choose what’s placed at the top of our minds; other times, someone or some brand vies for the position, and we award it accordingly.
Social media is the ultimate battleground for attention; it’s ongoing, personal, interactive and accessible. It puts companies and customers in close range, in tight proximity to invite relationship-building. Online, we all have the ability to put our message—and our merchandise—within reach of our target audiences. Yet it’s the effective marketers who’re creating prime opportunities to earn high ranking places in customers’ mental spaces.
Earning—and holding rank—is no small feat. It’s one thing to make a trumpet call to get attention; it’s a whole other deal to keep customers’ interest and engage them long enough to bring measurable results. For traditional advertising tactics, we speak of “frequency;” in online advertising, we refer to “impressions.” In social media, it’s about long term relationships and ongoing conversations.
Remember the fellow who tweeted photos of the airliner that landed in the Hudson River? He beat the news media to the punch with his instinctive photo-sharing and was hailed as The Example of citizen journalism of the new era. For a blip of time after that frenzy, I heard tale of people following this guy on Twitter as if he was going to miraculously be present at the onset of every major national news story. Yet after the moment of glory in the Hudson, the guy went back to tweeting about needing to lose weight and other mundane things of his daily existence. And the followers trailed off…back to life as usual. Yawn.
The lesson for small business owners? Be present; be purposeful. D on’t be the “Komodo dragon dream” or the Hudson River photographer; aim for more than a one-time run and be more than a single-event sensation. Let some other business try the crashing symbols or speech-making through a megaphone. Those tactics are not only hard to sustain, they’ll turn customers away.
Instead, use social media to become a daily, reliable, personable presence with your audiences. Tweet meaningfully. Blog consistently. Respond honestly. Interact sincerely. Earn your position at the top of customers’ minds, and strive to provide something so useful and enjoyable—ideas, interactions, amusements, information—they’d surely miss you if you weren’t there.
Top o’ the day to you!
p.s. – The dream had a happy ending!