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Promoting Vs Relationship Building

Posted by on November 21, 2008

I’ve had a few people/companies ask me to help them promote something online, oftentimes what they ask me to promote has nothing to do with me or what I write about, it’s like asking me to write about or help promote a new dog collar.  Can you honestly imagine me trying to promote a dog collar on this site?  I can just see the post now:

“Today we’re going to talk about social media strategy and dog collars with our guest blogger “pongo” the Doberman…” Ya, it would be THAT bad.

I thought I should make it very clear to people that promotion is not the same as relationship building.  You don’t want me to promote, you want to build connections and relationships, and you know who has to do it?  YOU!

Promotion is usually one way temporary communication: here’s a coupon to a department store, today only Macy’s is having a sale, buy one get one free, etc, those are promotions, they arent’ bad necessarily, but they are temporary; promotions expire.  Would you rather promote to millions or build relationships with thousands? (sneaky, you picked both didn’t you?)

It’s tough for people that are new to the social media space to grasp this.  They think that just because a blog gets thousands of readers that they should reach out to that blogger and ask them to write a post about their product or service.  This isn’t how it works folks.  You need to be relevant, you need to find the people that are in your industry and then reach out to them.  You also have to have an online presence, if you don’t exist online or you just have a static website, then there is nothing that can be done for you.  I can help you create social media strategies that align with your business goals, I can help you learn how to use the various social media platforms, I can advise you on how to structure your site, and I can create SEO strategies for you, but I can’t promote you.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it appears that people are getting a bit lazy aren’t they?  It seems that people want to get involved in social media but they don’t want to be the ones creating the content and building the relationships, they just want to have the presence.  I’ll tell you right now, that won’t do you any good.  If you want to get involved online then you are going to have to work for it, you are going to have to work to get the respect and attention of other people, you can’t pay someone to do that for you.  Sure, I know you’re busy, but so are all the other people in the world and if they have the time to interact with you then you better make time to interact with them.

You also can’t say you want to get involved in social media from January to February for a product launch, and then cut it off.  I have had several people ask me what they could do for 2 months to help build an audience around their product or service, then once the product/service is out, they want to stop…why!?  You have to realize that you can’t turn off the conversations and the relationships, they’re already out there talking about, do you really want them to shut up?

Promotion is temporary, it’s like getting those 20% of coupons to stores that last a month or two, then they’re gone.  Your promotion is going to be temporary but your conversations and relationships won’t be.  Long after your promotion ends there will still be users out there talking about you and wanting to interact with you, and what are you going to tell them?  “Sorry the promotion has expired?”

What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for reading

  • MatthewRay

    Kudos Jacob,
    People like the idea, but don't understand the approach that is needed. It's not traditional marketing.

    This is “Why You need a Social Media Marketing Team”, described in one of your recent posts.

    You can't jump in expecting to promote a product or business without first building some relationships.

    You mentioned, industry relationships; this is great and you should do this, but don't ignore the other industries. You don't know who someone else knows. You could post a few catchy items that one industry sees but is not interested in. What you want to also do is get them to think about their network, and who in their network MIGHT be interested in your product.

    People are generally happy to help other people out. Give tips, advice, tools, recommendations, etc. But they won't “help you out” without first building that relationship with them.

    Bottom line, you cant JUST promote and expect winnings. You have to take the time, patience, and passion to build relationships with online users for them to turn around and help you out when you need it most (ie: promotion or a new product or service).

    • hey mattew,

      i agree, it's always good to explore and look outside of your own community and industry. if you spend to much time pigeon-holed you will out on a lot of opportunities. i think the key issue you touched upon is passion.

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Preach Jacob, preach!

    Nice image up there by the way… I got a good chuckle out of that.

    I am finding that the concept of social media marketing is definitely going to be an uphill climb for those pushing it, because people are still stuck on the quick turnaround. I don't know why people believe in the fast cash schemes with no sustenance plan. It's crazy.

    • haha i do what i can, ya i liked the image as well, hence my using it in this post. im not worried about the uphill climb for social media, ive said many times before that i dont believe social media should be pitched. the second you have to convince someone to use social media you are already sacrificing authenticity.

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Social Media is not a short-term project (don't steal that phrase, I might just have to use it in a blog post soon). It takes time to understand and to join in the circles that relate to your industry. Once that is established, you will be in the proper place to make things happen more naturally and successfully for your brand.

    Here's the hard part for me – I understand this, but how do I get others to grasp this? If I want to get my amazing new sandwich on the most popular sandwich blog, I can't just pitch the writer cold-turkey and expect to get big results. I must begin by reading, then commenting, then connecting, and slowly building a relationship so I can naturally be included in the blog. What is the best way for my to convey this to others? Ideas Jacob? (this comment has evolved into what I will write my next blog post on).

    • hey drew,

      i dont think you need to spend your time trying to convince anyone of anything. i dont think social media should be pitched, there are still plenty of people out there who dont understand the value of twitter or the value of a blog, and until they get involved they will not understand. once people realize that they need social media and they need customer relationships then they will come to you. there are many case studies out there that show how rewarding social media can be. the problem is a lot of companies take conversations for granted. if you look at where most people turn to when they want information it's the internet, if you look at what the most popular sites online are, they are social networks. you are correct it's a gradual process, it;'s like getting married, you can;t just pop the question on the first date, you have to get to know one another.

      hope this helps, there is obviously a lot more i can say on this 🙂

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Hi Jacob,

    Similar to your topic, I was inspired by The Drama 2.0 Show's post today and added more about “being used' in social media here:

    I think on the one hand it's very cool that companies do want to engage their customers, but you're right — it's not a case of “here's $5,000: get me into social media for two months and make me $10,000.”

    Promotion is a bit like coffee — you get the quick hit, but once that wears off and people are demanding more, then you better make sure the pot is full for a long time after.


    • good analogy with the coffee 🙂 it's true you can't turn off conversation. it;s always on whether you want to be a part of it or not. there is not short term 5k fix it's a constant relationship building process.

      thanks for reading and commenting john!

  • Hey Jacob,
    Bravo, my friend 🙂

    Some folks just don't get it. You must be in the trenches socializing, engaging and converting not just temporarily but continue to build upon those relationships so that those happy clients turn into raging fans that will recommend you over and over again.

    Social media marketing is not a quick fix to promoting one product. One must market their passion, find the hungry folks looking for the solution you offer and you have to give it to them AND continue to nurture those relationships.

    Well said, Jacob!

    • relationships are what make the world go round. governemt, media, technology, advertising, etc. the whole world is run off of who you know and the relationships and connections you have.

      again the issue of passion comes up, gotta have passion!

      thanks for reading and commenting.

  • That awesome! it good sharing.

  • It's always good to explore and look outside of your own community and industry.
    It's not traditional marketing.