Last Friday I was in Atlanta, where I gave a talk on social media marketing at Dan Kennedy’s InfoSUMMIT conference.
I’m something of a fish out of water at a Glazer-Kennedy event. For example, unlike at Blogworld, I’m the only person in a room of 800 who has pink hair.
I wasn’t sure they’d be too receptive to what I had to say, but they surprised me.
They were warm, welcoming, and extremely interested in my no-shortcuts, no-magic-beans answers to their questions about how to use social media for marketing and business.
So in honor of Dan Kennedy, who sometimes styles himself as the “Professor of Harsh Reality,” I thought I’d talk today about some of the not-so-kumbaya aspects of social media marketing.
Harsh Reality #1: No one is reading your blog
As far as anyone can figure, there are about 200 million blogs around the world. Technorati tells us there are about 900,000 blog posts made every 24 hours.
The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say about losing weight with acai berries, making big money as an affiliate marketer, or how to join your Secrets of the Breakthrough Millionaire Insider Guru Mastermind Platinum Club.
Me-too content gets ignored. Scraped and remixed junk won’t cut it. There’s too much good content that you need to compete with. And there’s no magic system that can replace sitting in front of your keyboard and producing something that somebody wants to read. (Or partnering with someone who can.)
If you don’t have a great answer to the question “Why should anyone read your blog?” you’re going to be pretty unhappy with your results. That’s why we spend so much time teaching you how to produce better, smarter, more effective content.
Harsh Reality #2: You’ve got to give (some of) your best stuff away
It’s very natural to expect to get paid for what you do. And you should have a business model that leads to exactly that.
But first, you’ve got some dues to pay.
Commenter Corree Silvera mentioned her favorite Brian Clark quote from this year’s Blogworld Expo:
Don’t sacrifice a lot of money later for a little money now.
The answer to the question in Harsh Reality #1, “why should anyone read your blog?” is that you’re going to give away some of your best, most valuable, most life-improving material away for free, within a well-defined content marketing plan.
Just remember Sean d’Souza’s bikini concept. You can give 90% of it away, but there will always be people who will happily pay to see that last 10%.
Harsh Reality #3: It will eat your life (if you let it)
But if doing those things is important to you, you’re going to have to set some boundaries.
Know what you want to do with social media, keep yourself focused, and set a timer if you have to. The tools are amazing, but so is their power to distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish.
Harsh Reality #4: Social media hates selling
Is there anything more pitiful than that guy who gets on Twitter and won’t shut up about how he can put you in a condo today with no money down despite your lousy credit rating? Even the spammers are blocking this dude.
It’s really hard to sell products and services in social media, mostly because this audience hates salespeople worse than they hate Microsoft. You may be able to get some limited success out of it, but more likely you’ll be banned, blocked, shunned, and abused.
Instead of promoting a product or service, promote fantastic content. Promote a great special report or an amazingly valuable email course. Promote wonderful stuff that you’re giving away.
Use excellent free stuff to build authority and trust. Then you have the right to make an offer and possibly do some business. Not before.
Harsh Reality #5: What they say is a million times more important than what you say
Your marketing might be beautifully executed. You might have a special report that goes more viral than H1N1, a great-looking blog that hits Digg twice a day, and an email marketing sequence that copywriting genius Gene Schwartz would have been proud to write.
If your reputation sucks, none of it matters.
People with lousy products, crummy business practices, and shady backgrounds get found out. And word spreads with frightening speed.
Treat people right, because if you don’t, you will be exposed. And it will not be pretty.
Harsh Reality #6: A blog is not a marketing plan
Blogs are cool, but a single useful tool isn’t the same thing as a solid business and marketing plan.
Blogs are just one way to get your best content out there, and they work best when you pair them up with email autoresponders, special reports, Twitter, and any of a dozen other powerful tools.
Just hanging out and being cool isn’t enough. If you’re in social media to do business, you have to develop a strategy for taking mildly interested strangers and turning them into raving fans . . . and customers.
The conversation will happen with or without you. You definitely don’t need to respond to every chucklehead with a Facebook account (and you shouldn’t), but you need to keep your ear to the ground, and you need a clue.
OK, enough about harsh reality already! If you want our best advice about what to do to create a great online business, subscribe to Internet Marketing for Smart People, the Copyblogger email newsletter. It’s some of our best stuff, no junk, no fluff. And of course we will never, ever spam you or share your information with anyone.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.