Posted at 2:24 AM on June 6th, 2008 by Alex
Social Marketing 101: coffee shop community.
Don’t forget that phrase. Social marketing is the new decision maker in town, and soon to become the single largest subdivision of the marketing industry.
So why haven’t you heard of it yet?
Simple: social marketing rests on a foundation of potential connectedness. This is the first time in history that EVERYONE in the world is potentially connected to everyone else. Before this, the old media (newspaper, radio, even TV) connected the few (the celebrities, journalists, and news anchors) with the rest of the world. They were the most important few in the world simply because of their potential to spread ideas. Now, however, the tides have turned. The power of connected technologies (computers, laptops, cellphones, etc) combined with internet media (email, blogs, online TV, podcasts, videocasts, etc) has made it so everyone is potentially connected. That means you’re living in the middle of a paradigm shift - until today, there was no reason for social marketing to be thrust so far into the spotlight. It was important and could be used effectively, but wasn’t the “be-all / end-all” that it is today.
In a phrase, social marketing is word-of-mouth. I wrote more on this back in the June 4th, 2008 post “The Primer.” In the end, the most basic key component you have to have to engage in social marketing is community. Word of mouth doesn’t travel without social connections.
Gary Vaynerchuk - one of my heroes in the realm of social marketing (and WINE!) - hit a home run today in a short, 2 minute video post, titled, “When do you know you have a community?”. Go watch it NOW, it’s only 2 minutes. The point is this, though: community is about communication - not about numbers.
It isn’t how many people you tell your ideas; it is HOW you tell your ideas to other people.
I love having a job that only requires my laptop and an internet connection. I do most of my work from coffee shops. This is intentional, and for a number of reasons. One is that I love coffee. The biggest, though, is because I love community. I’ll make a post some day about my theories behind the community creating power of the coffee shop context, but the basic fact is that if I’m at a coffee shop, I have a potential to interact with people. This is a potential that I don’t have sitting by myself at home.
Today a couple people recognized me from the newspaper article and asked for advice (which I gladly gave) on getting into web-design. I had several people congratulate me on setting up this website and tell me they were looking forward to catching some tips on it. I gave my business card out to 8 different people, only after they asked about my work in conversation. Maybe more importantly, I didn’t give my business card or talk about work to at least 20 other people in conversation. And, as I sit here in this coffee shop, the owners just left my table after sitting down to say “hi” and chat about the latest happenings. I also just realized that I know everyone who works here — even the two new girls (Cassie and Amy). Not only do I know them, but they all (even the owners) sit down to chat with me. It’s a wonderful feeling — that quality of community.
That is what community, especially in social marketing, is about : the quality of connection. HOW you talk and relate to someone, not how many you talk and relate to. You don’t get to that quality level by faking or simply advertising. You get there by being real and sincerely caring about the community around you.
So, now that you have Social Marketing 101 down, go out there and dig into that coffee shop community. Do whatever you can to sincerely care about and make everyone you relate to happy. THAT is how you really work word-of-mouth and social networking. But most importantly, that is how you really have community.
Keep on living the indie life —