Popularity vs. Publicity: Social Media in Commercial Finance

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I freakin’ love this picture. I’m an ugly bald guy but…man. In this age of social media is all publicity good publicity. Is it an issue for the commercial finance business? We think there is a difference between the good ole “power of publicity” and the “quest for popularity”.

Social media is an increasingly powerful tool in the commercial finance business. Yes…your targets are starting to use it more and more frequently. In fact business owners and financial decision makers are among the fastest growing segments of social media usage. But like most easy to use communications mediums, fanaticism can develop and fundamentals get lost. Social media is just another communication vehicle and a successful strategy is more about what you say than the medium in which you say it. Content is the key to successful social media. And email marketing. And website success. And event success. And…we’ll…you get it.

Too many early (it’s not really early anymore) adopters of social media spend too much time posting for sake of posting without really looking at the content and how they are marketing it. The counter argument is that all exposure is good exposure. Exxon Valdez. BP Gulf of Mexico. Enron. Lehman. Poor ‘ole Monica Lewinsky. Kardashians. Trump. Don King. Dance Moms. Paris Hilton. Still agree? Are you chasing publicity that can really grow the business or are you chasing popularity?

Can your mass of followers actually pay you money?

6 months ago we had a new client overwhelmingly proud of his 14,000 twitter followers. “This is going to change my business forever!” We did some analysis on those followers and exactly 509 of them could be potential customers or refer customers to his company. Change the business forever? No. Position him to run for prom king…maybe.

Publicity that powers your business forward is wonderful. Publicity that raises awareness of your value proposition with your target audience is amazing. Marketing is a cousin of publicity that lives in the same neighborhood as sales and leveraged appropriately will change your business forever. But publicity among those that can’t pay you anything is not marketing. It’s not even a communications strategy. It is a quest for popularity. A sugar high. It feels good to see these people giving you love but it has fickle long term implications. If your goal is to get $10k on the public speaking circuit or to become another log on the “management guru” fire…knock yourself out. But for actually growing a commercial finance business…be careful not to overinvest in a sugar high.

If you are trying to leverage social media to grow publicity of your company with your target market, spend 80% of your time building content that is interesting to them and 20% of your time putting it in a vehicle of distribution. If you do this, you’ll bring the stubborn markets of the commercial finance business to social media because the content in interesting—not because social media is cool or because they can’t wait to build followers. You’ll be a leader in the space and different than your competition.

If you ever want to talk about a content strategy fueling a social media effort that CAN really grow the bottom line…give us a holler.

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