Hucksters, Hype and Honesty

“The Large Print Giveth” by Tom Fishburne

Everyone wants (or needs) to be a marketer in today’s world and they all seek different roads to success. Not all of those roads are effective, and many of them can be downright counter-productive. Being a member of a social network, or using the term social media doesn’t mean you’re using social media effectively,and you can as easily be a social media abuser as you can be a social media user.

Hucksters are, by definition abusers of the social space.  They are all over you waving their products and disrupting the online conversations of every community they participate in. Whether they didn’t read Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing , or they didn’t get the memo that marketing is conversation from the Clue Train Manifesto, these broadcasters are the online equivalent of the loud speaking movie goer or the person who spends the entire evening at a party talking to you about why you need to buy their product.  This annoying tribe is huge, comprised of people who see social spaces as a blank billboard for there personal use, and not a place where communities grow and prosper. The real estate agent who pimps their listings or open houses, the tech company that promotes their product or sales pitches thinly disguised as webinars , are seem by the overall communities online as old fashioned pitchmen or snake-oil peddlers, and have to interrupt huge segments of online communities in order to get a small number of people to respond.  Its been 119 years since  E. St. Elmo Lewis defined this process by his AIDA model, and yet for some people, this is how marketing works.

Hype is almost as annoying – people that make amazing claims and proclaim everything with excessive excitement based on nothing but their desire to be the center of online attention. Its not an uncommon type of promotion, and in fact Gartner even developed a graphic showing how it impacts the introduction of new tech products with their famous Hype Cycle that showed products moving from a “peak of inflated expectations” to a “trough of disillusionment” before reaching enlightenment and then productivity.  I’m a fan of genuine excitement, but you just can’t be excited about everything. Its the social media equivalent of typing with the Caps Lock on. when you spend all of your time SHOUTING, and everything you shout about is AMAZING, you lose the ability to emphasize anything. And after a while people just stop listening or paying attention to you. Add to that the disillusionment and disappointment that follows most hype, and it becomes an even worse choice for your online marketing.

The sweet place in social media – the place you want and need to be is where you earn the right to speak to people about your business because you have earned the ability to do so through an open honest dialogue that has created a relationship with them. To quote a line from Godin’s blog  “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” People want to like you. They want to be connected with you – not your product, not your service, not even your company, but because they like you. The social objects that connect you to others are the places where you can build connections in a community online that wants to hear what you want to share, and in that place, you become the advocate for your service or product that the hypsters and huckster think they are. You become the real deal, not just the appearance of the real deal. It takes a little longer, but the positive impact lasts as long as you maintain your open dialogue.

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