How Do I Tell My Story?
Recently a colleague of mine approached me wanting to know some “best practices” for social media engagement. To give some context, this person is taking steps to become a real estate agent. For what it’s worth, this is a completely new direction for his life and career. An ambitious and possibly frightening prospect for anyone. I should also throw out there, he’s never really had an interest in social media personally, but sees the marketing value it presents. I guess if you distill his question down, he wants to know:
“How do I get myself out there? How do I tell my story?”
It’s so easy to let the concept of “marketing” get in the way of common sense. Especially in content marketing - and it happens to the best of us. It seems so intuitive in retrospect; “what is my story?”, but how often are we really taking time to really tell it? The truth is, ALL THE TIME. Every day, in passing, in text, email, social media we’re all constantly spinning a web; a narrative of our lives. There is content literally all around us.
My first question was simply asking him, “well, tell me about your life. What’s going on in your life right now?” After a moment of confusion, I reiterated not to overthink it. Just be top-of-mind about it. “Let it out without inhibition.” He then began to spill out some bullet points that were pressing to him right now:
· Recently became a father of twins
· A wife he loves dearly
· Their dog, Chip
· A career change
· Changes to the house he’s working on
· The juggling act of balancing all this
I stopped him and said, “That’s it. That’s your story. And it’s a great one!” He seemed perplexed by this prospect and responded,
“But how will this help get me business?”
I chuckled for a moment, and came to the realization that our perception of what engages people is in complete conflict with our desire to sell, but the truth is, what sells isn’t our “value proposition” or “pitch,” it’s us.
Content marketing is a gesture of humanity. Your personal layer to a rich and evolving story. Tell a story that resonates with an audience, that touches them on a human level, and you’ll have more than their attention. Talk about your life, your family, an epiphany, the humorous anecdote where Chip destroys the couch – whatever, but be candid, sincere and most importantly, consistent. People will love you for it.
In the case of my colleague, sure, every so often he absolutely should post something about real estate. It’s a part of his life, but in no greater capacity than the rest of his story. The last thing he wants to do is pollute his Facebook with "everything real estate." Social media audiences are savvier than most give credit, grow bored easily and have a low threshold for abusive/obtuse marketing tactics that lack finesse or sincerity.
My suggestion to him is to use the 80/20 rule. If he’s posting every day (which he should), real estate posts shouldn’t really be more than 20% of his posts. The rest should be filled with genuine content illuminating his family, thoughts, jokes, fears, passions, pictures, inspirations and dreams - his story, which includes real estate, but not wholly. Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this in his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers, the idea is simple. Give more than you expect to get.
Content marketing isn’t advertising, it’s a gift. Content without the flavor of humanity is dull, boring, forgetful and annoying. So tell your story – they’ll eat it up.