Call it the Mama Bear in me, but I’ve got to get something off my chest.
My passion is helping business owners who are putting their entire soul into trying to write authentic, compelling content.
And I don’t want them comparing the hard, often messy but hugely rewarding work they’re doing with something fake that I see all over the internet.
So I’m calling it out.
Facebook shows me a lot of sponsored content where business owners are trying to sell me their latest course or group program or get me to sign up for their free webinar.
Cool. I dig it. I want to know about the neat stuff going on that can help me show up with more pizzazz in my business.
But there’s a certain type of ad that bugs the life out of me.
You may have seen one or two of these yourself.
There’s a photo of a Pinterest-perfect looking 27-year-old next to ad copy telling me that this gal who looks nothing like anybody I’ve ever met in real life knows how I feel.
As in, literally, the ad will say, “I know how you feel.”
Like Neo from The Matrix, I can pretty much see through the ad to the demographics that were selected: female, under 45, lives in California, interested in online entrepreneurship.
Yup. That’s me.
But the idea that the person behind the ad knows me? I call bullshit.
Show, Don’t Tell
If you really know how I feel, don’t TELL me.
Give me an example of how I’m feeling. Use the words — or heck, even the emoji — that I would use to describe my experience.
Show me that you understand me. That you see me. That you hear me.
Because what I want in a course or a coaching program or even a free webinar is someone who speaks authentically. Someone who really gets where I’m stuck. And has the solutions for helping me move forward.
My own greatest mentors have been people who invested the time to understand their audience at a crazy deep level so they know how to help in totally transformative ways.
And they know how to talk to their audience so that the right people sign up to work with them and get amazing results.
TELLING people you know how they feel completely misses the point.
There’s no connection in TELLING.
The connection happens in SHOWING.
When you SHOW someone you know them, you’re taking the time to be with them in the space they occupy.
I bet you’ve experienced this in your life.
How annoying it is if someone says, “I know exactly how you feel.” And then launches into the story of how THEY feel?
It’s completely different from someone taking the time to make eye contact, hold your hand, breathe with you, and say, “That must feel really upsetting.”
This kind of connection is the opportunity to build trust.
To show up as a true leader.
And to create a bond that makes people not just willing but downright excited to sign up to work with you.
Can you feel the difference?
The TELLING problem isn’t isolated to these sponsored posts.
It’s pretty systemic in the world of online marketing.
The Sneaky Ways Social Media BS Shows Up
Feeling you need to create a super detailed client avatar, including a 10-page bio.
You don’t need to know where your ideal client went to college and what kind of toothpaste she uses in order to help her with your coaching. If you’re a thoughtful person, doing this kind of exercise has probably driven you bonkers. You want to be honest in your answers, so you’re probably staring at all those questions thinking, “I have no clue! Oh my god, my coaching program did not prepare me for this!”
Thinking you should be able to know your audience from a distance.
Stop putting the pressure on yourself to know everything about your audience from the outset — and from the outside. It’s by working with clients that you’ll come to know them in intimate ways. You can also get to know them simply by listening to them talk about their experience in their own words. Hang out in communities where your ideal clients are. Listen to them. Get to know them. Let them tell you what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Talking like everyone else.
I groan a bit when I see a Facebook post that addresses me as “Lovely.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for compliments. I love opening up Denise Duffield-Thomas’s emails that start with “Hey, gorgeous!” But it’s because that’s the way she really talks when you interact with her. That’s her genuine voice. When you sacrifice your own voice in order to sound like everyone else, you end up blending in with the crowd. The thing people do to stand out doesn’t work if absolutely EVERYONE is doing it to stand out. Make sense?
How To Escape the Social Media BS
Listen to real people, not avatars.
Get to know the people you want to serve. Instead of wondering what brand of jeans they wear, learn what brand of self-doubt they struggle with. Start interesting conversations on social media channels or on your blog. Ask people how they feel instead of telling them how they feel. Connect and empathize. Get curious about your audience’s core beliefs and desires.
Get up close and personal with your audience.
Show up in community with the people you feel called to serve. Offer them tips and strategies you know will help them. Respond do their comments and questions. Show people you’re listening. Create a conversation rather than a monologue.
Find your authentic voice.
Talk the way you talk. Your voice is compelling to the people who will resonate with the work you do. It can take time to find this voice, and that’s totally normal. It may feel awkward at first to be yourself in a public arena. Or to figure out which version of you that needs to be. But you’ll only find your voice by trying it out. You won’t find it by imitating other people.
OK, Rant Over
I should end by saying that I don’t feel angry when I see these BS trends.
I don’t think the people buying into them are doing something bad or wrong.
I just think they’re missing the boat in such an enormous way.
There’s a chance to connect, and instead they’re projecting.
There’s a chance to bring hope, and instead they’re bringing hype.
There’s a chance to make marketing more honest, and instead they’re doing business as usual.
Now that I’ve shared my perspective with you, I wonder whether you’ll start noticing this trend… or maybe you have already.
Let me know.
I’d love to continue the conversation with you.
Happy writing in your own beautiful voice,