In a world saturated by information, where good stories and useful data are buried between the bylines, how are we supposed to get our message across to our clients, let alone our prospective clients? It’s simple, but not easy: we build our relationships personalized-brick by personalized-brick. Our modern understanding of “social” is in the process of changing (again), and understanding the drivers to that change can give us an advantage.
You know the feeling that you can’t even keep up with what you want to keep up with anymore? That’s what saturation feels like. The process of moving online from TV and print started with “hey, that’s a cute cat video,” and somehow arrived at “do I really have to block out time on my calendar to say happy birthday to all these so-called friends on Facebook?” What once was wide open, now is annoyingly crowded. Bob Lefsetz framed it exceptionally well in “Virality Is History” (formatting edited),
We’re overloaded, we’re not paying attention. We have to hear it from a trusted source before we’ll click. So nothing lights a fire on the internet overnight. Which means that big publicity campaigns fall flat. And if you can see the sell beneath the supposed event, people are turned off. That’s what killed viral music videos. So there is no overnight success. No instant adoption. And that’s what the system was built for, to create a towering edifice overnight. There’s no sure-fire way to the top. Own it.
What we say and do either has to be so good it cuts through all the noise, OR it has to be so personal that it speaks to a single person’s innermost being to get them to pay attention. IF people “see the sell,” IF it feels inauthentic, IF it’s “they only say hi when Facebook reminds them to,” it’s dead on arrival. Those are the rules. There’s no message for the masses that can get more than a passing “like” anymore, and that’s precisely what works to our advantage.
Building and owning a niche, or at least a small corner of the universe, is what we have left. It’s the old way, the one at a time way – the hard way. We have to find the minimum viable audience that supports our business, build something really special just for those people, and make sure they know “we only do this for other people like us.” Slowly, if we do it right, we can go viral in a smaller, custom-built community of our own making.
Big isn’t necessary, but brains are. How are we connecting at a deeper level? We don’t have to leave the shore to get out of the shallows, we just have to go straight down. Here’s more Lefsetz, on “Nichification” (formatting edited),
America is evolving into niches. I’m not talking entertainment, I’m talking people themselves. Zuckerberg has it right that we want private groups because these are the only people who care about us…The internet allows us to reach everybody, but everybody is not listening… We’re looking for the personal touch in the machine age. Start with honesty and credibility and work from there. Everybody hates spam. And you can be on TV and unknown. Have an article about you in the paper and get no traction. You’ve got to infect group by group. And the process is much slower, even though the internet is instantaneous. We’re overloaded, we’re fatigued with what’s going on. We don’t want to hear about new, new, new, we just want to have relationships with a few enterprises and call it a day. The internet barons are out of touch because they think tech solves all problems. But that is untrue. And the public knows it. So everybody will have a story and only their close friends will know it. And everyone will be happier.
Lefsetz’ points are critically important for all professionals here. People are so overloaded right now that a personalized, private, and purposeful relationship can have more value (by contrast – thanks to social media) to the average individual than maybe ever before in history. We’re all doing some version of this in our “relationship businesses,” but now our knob has to go up to eleven.
We need to really put our personalities to work. Tech helps with the problems, but touch (still) solves them. And, let’s not ignore that personalized, private, and purposeful help can literally make people happier. If we understand these trends and focus our efforts accordingly, the opportunity only looks like a narrow opening from above, when in actuality, it runs very, very deep.