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Are you a victim of social routine?
You make an appearance and show your face at all of the community hot spots that you’ve determined to be of value, make a comment or two in an ongoing discussion, perhaps even post an article, then you move on...
You grab your triple eight pump upside down extra caramel caramel macchiato with light foam, and with the click of a mouse you’re off to the races muddling your way through your social network marketing routine for the day. You make an appearance and show your face at all of the community hot spots that you’ve determined to be of value, make a comment or two in an ongoing discussion, perhaps even post an article, and then you move on. Point, click, repeat. Is there anything wrong with that? - Absolutely not. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and you are actually contributing content. The question is – to what end?
Social communities are taking on the appearance of local neighborhoods with a dozen “World Famous” Roast Beef signs all over town. Everyone is on pace to “establish themselves as an expert” following the preeminent piece of advice when it comes to making your presence known in online social circles.
The question isn’t, is your secret sauce better than the guy down the street? The question is; did you have a plan of attack going in? Is there a method to your madness? Or, at this point in time are you simply a victim of social routine?
It’s important to point out that content for the sake of content is simply a waste of time, once you stop to consider that “point, click, repeat” simply groups you in with everyone else, offering you no opportunity to stand out from the crowd. And as time goes by without the ROI truly revealing itself, you begin to think that perhaps this social community, forum etc. just isn’t worth the time. HEY – don’t blame the community, blame your approach or, the lack there of; because if you’re not marketing with intent or, have an end-result in mind as a product of your actions, then it may be time to for you to regroup.
I began writing this piece because of what I’m currently seeing in the market, the lack of forethought in one’s approach swaying strongly in favor of nothing more than simply self-promotion. But then I came across an old article that I recently found about a strategy that I developed over a decade ago that involved the creation of, believe it or not, cartoons. It was a strategy that evolved around content with an end-result in mind, so I thought that it would be worth integrating it into this article. If this gets a little long in the tooth so-to-speak I apologize. Hopefully in the end it will be worth it.
It was back in the day when good technical talent was hard to come by, and if you knew C++ then you were worth your weight in gold. The bottom line was that there just weren’t enough software engineers or hardware engineers for that matter to go around.
At the time, a cartoon strip created by the syndicated cartoonist Scott Adams was infamous for its technical following. Engineers would flock to Dilbert.com feverously each morning as they downed their first cup of the day, looking to get their fix of corporate humor. For all I know they still do.
The outrageous popularity of Dilbert set off a series of strategic flares and questions that would later be answered, like “could the popularity of something like this in technical circles be duplicated?” What emerged was a brainchild called The Tech Side, (TheTechSide.com) a play on the name of another popular cartoon strip – The Far Side.
The Tech Side featured two main characters, Sherwin – the distraught engineer, and his partner in crime – Digit, the lovable but opinionated laptop.
The motivating factors behind the creation of The Tech Side were actually pretty simple. I had clients who had an overwhelming need to identify, attract and hire top engineering talent, and simply running a typical “help wanted, we need, great benefits, call” ad in the Sunday paper just wasn’t going to get it done. The number of bodies needed, eliminated retained search as a viable option which left everyone scratching their heads asking the proverbial question - “now what?”
As I sat there twiddling my thumbs with my thinking cap on backwards, I decided to collectively approach a few of my client/colleagues with a little “what if?” idea that I had in mind. After everyone signed off on my mental blueprint, my own personal search for talent began.
My first stop was the AAEC (The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists). Now I know that you wouldn’t necessarily classify Dilbert as an editorial style cartoon, in fact he’s just the opposite. But my goal was not only to duplicate the success that Dilbert had established with the high-tech community, but also to differentiate the Tech Side cartoons from the ones currently in circulation at the time, and establish our own identity. To help ensure that, I took it one step further by animating each cartoon. Now keep in mind that this is back in the day when most of us were struggling with dialup, and flash wasn’t actually mainstream.
The premise of the site was to invite the users (engineers) to submit ideas for an upcoming cartoon. If their idea was selected, The Tech Side cartoonist, Brian Kelly, would bring their idea to life, and their cartoon would appear on the site as the featured cartoon for the day with the name of the engineer who submitted the idea positioned directly underneath it. If the engineer’s idea was selected, then they were rewarded with their choice of a Tech Side t-shirt, coffee mug or mouse pad.
My next step was to present technical sites that possessed the audience that we were after with the opportunity to feature a new Tech Side cartoon on their site each week. Under the cartoon it would state “For your daily dose, check out TheTechSide.com Click Here”. The acceptance of the offer was overwhelming. Soon after, the cartoons and The Tech Side took on a life of its own as word of mouth spread and articles began to appear in every publication that we could have hoped for, like this one in the EE Times. I can’t believe that it’s still online.
OH YEAH – did I forget to mention that aside from the daily cartoon featured on the home page, there just happened to be an employment section where the site’s sponsors - Sun Microsystems, Nortel, Motorola etc. posted all of their engineering openings? Everybody say - Oh now I get it!
The point that I’m trying to make is that there was a calculated, well thought out approach designed to accomplish a goal. Now if your objective is simply to throw is much stuff out there and see what sticks, then so be it, if that’s the best you got. All I’m suggesting is that you STOP to consider what you are ABOUT to do and ask yourself – Why? Is there a clear calculated rhyme or reason? And is there a timeline at play here when you hope to achieve your objective, or will you simply be going through the same social routine a month from now with no end-result in sight?
Learn more about the author, Duke Getzinger.
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