We have entered the inspiration age. The age where connecting with our audiences is not an option but a requirement.
Coming out of the information age it was easy to put everything in a box. With bits and bytes and widgets and boxes. Super size advertising budgets could be easily justified because of course it was a box or a widget you were buying. A placement to an estimated XX number of people for a set cost and a set time. We became masters of forecasting return on investment. I have had campaigns where I could tell you almost to the dollar of what our return would be on an email campaign or event.
Times are a changin'! Now it's almost opposite. It's a free for all. We can communicate anyway we want. We can communicate how, when and where we want. Heck, you can tweet all night if you desire. And the funniest part is there is probably somebody up somewhere who will be interested in what you have to say and will tweet right along with ya'!
The communications side of the house, loves the inspiration age. We love the written language. It enables us to express ourselves, our desires and information to help others. We can blog until the cows come home and keep our audience engaged. We know the art of pulling the right words together. We've mastered throwing everything including a dash of inspiration into 140 characters.
However, there is another side of the house that let's say well... they don't like it so much. They were use to throwing the marketing plan and a big fat check at an advertising firm and saying "hey, have it!" Now if their agency knows left from right they aren't getting away with such. Now they have to engage!
"What? Engage? You mean I have to be part of the conversation? I can't just blast noise?" How many times have we heard this from clients? I can tell you I heard it just 2 days ago. And I finally received their commitment to walk thru a social media strategy discussion where yes, they have to be a part of!
So, what do we do? We must realize we are in the inspiration age. We are in an age where we need to understand our audience. We need to know what makes them tick. We need to be able to connect with them in different ways. We need to continually feed and nurture their spirit, brain, heart and checkbook. And we must do this in 140 characters half the time!?
Yes, social media includes tools, gadgets, widgets and wadgets. Most of us migrate to the tools because we love them. And most importantly because we're comfortable with them. There is nothing that satisfies the geek in me more than 10:00 pm with a nice warm blanky, a diet coke and a laptop ready to blast out tweets, metric tools and reports and forecasts.
We've been hiding behind the avatars, the advertising campaigns and the email blasts for too long. It's time that we help those who are timid with the skills they need to inspire. We need to help them realize that their audience has moods, family and business crisis times, educational needs and physiological needs. It's we connect with those needs and desires that is going to inspire them. Sending them a link to your website with no connection is going to get you little to no return on investment.
It's not just about the content but as Brian Solis states, the context. It's what is within the content, the meaning behind it. It's what we say before and after we ask them for action. Their action is the social currency of today.
If you want action you are not going to get it by only mastering the science of the social media tools. We must also learn that we can never master the heart of the human soul. The best we can do is give our best, share our best to INSPIRE them.
We must first inspire our audiences to connect with us. It is not until we both inspire and connect that we can achieve our objectives both personally and professionally.
Inspire - Connect - Achieve
I started a LinkedIn discussion as well as a discussion on my Facebook page and will document my results and findings. Within the LinkedIn discussion I provided a few categories for folks to chew on. I have specific thoughts on this but am very interested in listening first. I'd like to hear what inspires folks versus me telling you what I think you should be inspired by! Hmmm... different concept than the information age, heh?
You can also join the discussion in 140 characters if that's your cup of tweets. Please use hashtag #inspireme
Please let me know your thoughts. What inspires you? What motivates you to get to know someone better? What inspires and attracts you to a mentor? A partner? A client? This should be a discussion worth having. One we can have with real conversation and passion.