In the business and marketing industries, there are a number of coaches, articles, and innovators out there who will strive to answer the question “How do you define good marketing?” In regards to the online sphere, some will say that it’s about frequent posting and engagement. Others will argue that the key lies in an increase in numbers and analytic results. One might beat the strategy drum, proclaiming that you cannot execute a plan if you don’t have one. These are all important factors, but there is no one-size fits all formula that will turn any aspiring project into a well-loved and revered product. However, there is one aspect that is very rarely discussed, but needs to be recognized above all else:

To be a good marketer, you must be a genuine marketer

Frequent tweets, photos, and updates might very well lead to an increase in numbers, but that’s only a small part of the equation

By definition, genuine means being free from pretense and hypocrisy, as well as pure. Granted, no one is immune to making mistakes and imperfections will reveal themselves at some point. At the same time, genuineness has a clear focus and unapologetically stands up, whether or not it actually stands out among the crowd. An example that comes to mind would be the workers at the little food stations at warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. To enhance the shopping experience, employees place themselves in certain areas of the store, offering free samples to customers as they pass by. That being said, the main attraction isn’t always the product itself or that the promoter talks a good talk. The product is off to the side, and the customer is given the choice as to whether or not they want to try it. People don’t want to be force fed anything, and they get more out of an experience when they’re given the opportunity to feed themselves.

The same can be said for the online sphere. Being genuine means that you put your product/message out there, and then let the audience decide how they want to receive it and engage with it.
Keep in mind that simply doing that is only one part of the process: You can’t just say “here you go!” and expect orders to start rolling in or follower count to go up. It does take time, dedication, and consistency.

Recognize that getting people to listen is not always about being the loudest or being seen to the point of overexposure

Every brand has a story, and with that will each have a different way of telling it. At the same time, whether or not it is believable often has these common threads:

Tell the truth

It shouldn’t take your audience reading a handful of tweets, blogs, or other social media platform posts to figure out who your company is and why it exists. Be forthcoming about what products or services you offer, and what you hope to do for your audience. But more than anything, do it in the simplest way possible, without the embellishment of unnecessary paragraphs or industry jargon. If consumers truly care about what you have to offer, they won’t need convincing to keep reading or to keep listening. Being honest and to the point not only shows that you’re respectful of your audience’s free will, but that you’re confident in both your brand and your voice.

Establish and Build Relationships

I’m probably not alone when I say this, but there’s nothing more unbelievable than a direct message on Twitter where a person thanks me for following them, or asks me to read their work. People typically follow other people on Twitter because they want to, and therefore gratitude is not necessary. Even more questionable is when I’m asked to read a book or subscribe to their website, and I only just connected with them via a social media platform. It’s completely understandable that you want to be seen and not just heard, but there is an appropriate time to do that. Before throwing a book at them or asking for a favor, make a point to truly get to know the person behind the brand. Why did they start the company? What attracted them to a particular industry? What are their goals? Open-ended questions are an excellent way to find common ground and relate to whomever you’re talking to; it’s a sign of respect and an understanding of autonomy. Again, if people want to do something, they’ll go ahead and do it on their own.

Post with Purpose

Frequent tweets, photos, and updates might very well lead to an increase in numbers, but that’s only a small part of the equation. While this applies to writing any kind of copy, it’s especially relevant when coming up with social media editorial content. Before doing anything, ask yourself what you really want to say, and what are the key points that you want to reiterate as time goes on. When you engage online, highlight what you appreciate and ask questions about what you don’t understand. The message will stay consistent, but framework around that message should always be changing and evolving. A repeated “Let me help you get one thousand new followers!” becomes monotone after a while, and it’s tough to imagine passionate marketers wanting bots for an audience in the long run.

As a real brand, recognize that getting people to listen is not always about being the loudest or being seen to the point of overexposure. Show what you have to offer, and keep the conversation going from there by a mutual exchange of questions and ideas. Growth and success do not always happen overnight, and you will not grasp the meaning until you’ve had to work for both of them.