There’s a brand new generation for online marketers to adapt to.
This time, however, the generation is not defined by date of birth. This generation is defined by repulsion at the corporate and political greed that has plummeted much of the world into economic doldrums.
In other words, Generation “G” is all about generosity and sickened by greed.
TrendWatching.com did a giant report on Generation G, because they see it as the most vital business and marketing trend given the current economic climate. And given the emerging social media culture, I don’t see us going back in the other direction when things get better.
GENERATION G captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy—and while that same upheaval has them longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-recession) emergence of an online-fueled culture of individuals who share, give, engage, create and collaborate in large numbers. ~ TrendWatching.com
But don’t despair, this isn’t really new – it’s just hugely magnified. Successful entrepreneurs and professionals have been using generosity to succeed for a long time.
In fact, I tried to sum it up in an article I wrote almost three years ago:
You’ve got to give, give, give to get.
Content Marketing is the “Free Love” Foundation
There’s an intensive battle for attention going on every day online. People aren’t looking for your pitch, they’re looking for valuable information that improves some aspect of their lives.
And that’s what you’ve got to give them if you want attention.
But here’s the win-win-win-win that results when you give away valuable content in a smart way. Not only do you get attention, and not only are you viewed as generous, you’re viewed as a subject matter expert who demonstrates expertise instead of simply claiming it.
You’re building authority with prospects while kicking in the reciprocity effect, so they in turn amplify your authority by talking about you to others. The same process will result in the 4th “win” – Google viewing you as an authority and ranking you high in the search results (more on this in the near future).
If you’ve managed to attract attention from prospective customers or clients who view you as a generous expert, AND you’ve got great search results, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of your competition.
And yet, you can take it even further thanks to social networking.
Social Sharing Amplifies Trust and Affinity
Once you have people who pay attention to you based on the solid foundation I described above, you can take it to the next level thanks to social networking platforms such as Twitter. The key is to continue providing value, while allowing for more personal interactions that lead to trust and plain ol’ liking.
With social networking, you can expand your generosity by:
- Sharing relevant content from other sources, not just your own.
- Finding stuff to share that gets people jazzed up or makes their day.
- Confiding in those who follow you, thereby building a stronger bond.
Put simply, you’ve got to be a real person when networking online. Put a human face on the “expert” and you’ll enjoy more success. But don’t forget value though, because even when revealing more about yourself, it’s still about them at some level.
I see some people hopping on Twitter or Facebook and desperately trying to add more friends and followers without starting with the fans you attract by creating and sharing your own content first. That’s a tough road.
While not impossible, it’s awfully difficult to do this without an existing following, even if small. There’s no social proof of value, so attracting the attention of others who aren’t playing the “I’ll follow you if you follow me” game is difficult.
Don’t be a Virtual Sharecropper
Sharing via social networking can certainly help you achieve the status of generous. It’s a lot of work to find interesting stuff to share multiple times a day. The downside is without your own authoritative content, you’ve only demonstrated expertise in finding and sharing cool stuff.
Also keep in mind that you don’t own or control Twitter, Facebook or Linked-in, and your efforts on those platforms are essentially someone else’s user-generated content. Relying on social networking alone leaves you with no virtual land of your own, and no demonstrated expertise beyond working on someone else’s.
Don’t be a virtual sharecropper… start with your own content on your own domain, and expand from there. Your social networking efforts will magnify exponentially when you start with real fans in the first place.
Generous Doesn’t Mean Everything is Free
The TrendWatching briefing on Generation G is quick to point out that “generous” doesn’t mean giving away the farm. But I think it’s becoming obvious to many that the “give it all away” strategy of Web 2.0 is not working, just like it didn’t work in Web 1.0.
Those who don’t learn from history, doomed, etc.
I think we’re going to see a sharp decrease in the “blogging for bucks” crowd who thought advertising would make them rich. On the other hand, we need to see more of those with real businesses stepping up their content marketing and overall generosity. We’ll also see a shift in attitude related to free content subsidized by affiliate marketing and innovative sponsorship arrangements.
The main take-away from the TrendWatching report on Generation G is that people want to do business with companies and people who are willing to share and place generosity over greed. It’s not that they expect everything for free, because, believe it or not, when it comes to many things in life, we don’t value free all that much after all.