Are women over-complicating their marketing via social media?
Fewer men than women use social media, men are less likely to contribute every day, and men spend a lot less time on social media.
This is the gist of a recent article that cites fascinating data on male versus female participation in social networking. While the story is a little short on numbers, it raises some important points about using social media to market products and services.
Please note that my communication preferences may be quite different from yours. I’m kind of intense. I have friends, even online friends, but I find much of the social networking content shallow and boring.
The article proposes that if your prospective clients are primarily male, you should approach them through industry-specific channels (including LinkedIn groups) rather than general social media.
Point well taken.
However, here is another aspect of the issue that the brief article misses: Maybe we women are making our marketing unnecessarily difficult by going the social media route.
At this point I am going to generalize about the personality differences between men and women. I recognize that there are many people who are exceptions to the differentiation I am making here, but I still believe my observations are valid.
I’ve never been a big fan of Know, Like and Trust marketing for B2B (business-to-business) practices such as my own freelance writing business (although frankly, most articles recommending KLT ignore the differences between B2B and B2C (business to consumer)).
My experience has been that corporate prospects are busy, busy people. They don’t care what kind of auto you have just purchased, that you “like” the Kardashians, who your kid is dressing up as for Halloween or how much you appreciate today’s beautiful sunset. It’s quite possible for them to Trust you enough to give you a freelance or consulting assignment without knowing all that much about you other than your qualifications. And certainly they don’t need to Like you to work with you, although the longer you work with them, the better they will come to Know and Like you.
So why do we have to waste so much time on frantic social media activity?
The awkward thing about social networking is that if you wait for someone to KLT you enough for you to feel comfortable asking for the sale, you will never feel sufficiently confident. Such a deep relationship is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve online. So if you are looking for a relationship before asking for the work, that’s a huge amount of up-front time and effort that may never pay off.
To buy into the KLT stuff is to put ourselves on a path where we can never do enough to merit a sale or an assignment. There are so many people out there to develop relationships with and so much attention per person to develop a deep relationship. The demands we may place upon ourselves are overwhelming in terms of both quantity and quality.
Men don’t have to do all this work to go after clients so why do we women?
It says something about women’s insecurities that we don’t feel entitled to the work unless we make them like us. For women who feel uncomfortable doing something as “gross” as sales, this KLT stuff is another excuse to avoid doing proactive marketing work and ask for the sale.
Even more distressing is the realization that if you are spending a lot of time chit-chatting on social media, the people you would like to do assignments for may not even realize you are in business.
Consider your own experience. When you read a tweet you like or a comment on LinkedIn, how often do you say to yourself, “Gee, I really Know, Like and Trust this person. What service or product can I buy?”
Actually, after all this palsy-walsy stuff, it feels awkward when a product or service provider gets all promotional. A sort of bait and switch. An inconsistency in what they are about.
Self-proclaimed experts say you should tone down the marketing. You should market very little relative to happy-girl chatter. Some Twitter gurus even prescribe how much you should talk about yourself relative to quotations, conversation, retweets, etc. I’ve seen figures as low as 10% of tweets about yourself.
Sure, if you enjoy social media as a hobby or past-time, go ahead. But don’t fool yourself that it’s work. It’s delusional to convince yourself that all this fluffy activity is actually marketing, and more important, it’s absurd to stress yourself out on it.
(Here’s a link to the original story.)
Originally posted 9-25-12