There are days (not the good days, the other ones) when social media marketing feels a lot like high school.
There are the cool kids everyone wants to be like. They have a ton of friends (in this case, hundreds of thousands). Of course those aren’t real friends, but still, from the outside it looks like it would be pretty awesome.
On the not-so-great days, we get carried back to those painful high school memories when we were the geeks, the dorks, the outcasts. And that seems like a problem.
But Erika Napoletano wants to slap a little sense into you on that topic … to let you know that your geekiness, your dorkiness, your weird way of looking at the world can be the source of your success.
If you’re strategic about it.
So forget about the so-called cool kids for a few minutes, and let’s talk about what it means to be productively unpopular.
Unpopular is the name of a new book by Erika Napoletano, who’s otherwise known as the chief redhead at RedheadWriting.com. Erika’s an SEO copywriter, a business strategist, and a dispenser of unpopular (but useful) advice.
She also curses a lot. A lot of my friends curse a lot. I’m not sure what that means.
Why it’s not such a bad thing to be unpopular
Most of us marketing online tend to be seduced by numbers.
We want to reach some magical number of followers on Twitter, or Likes for our FaceBook page. We want traffic to sweep down onto our sites like hordes of starving locusts. We want clicks and eyeballs and page views.
But numbers can only get you so far.
Yes, when it’s just you and your cat reading your blog, you have work to do.
Yes, you need a certain critical mass — what Brian Clark has called a minimum viable audience.
But that critical mass is a lot smaller than some of the “popular” sites might make you think.
Erika’s recipe for unpopularity
Is there a difference between being Unpopular (in Erika’s terminology) and just plain old failing?
In fact, yes there is. Out of her years working with companies to create more effective marketing strategies, Erika has put together a “recipe” of five key ingredients for unpopularity.
This is the kind of unpopularity that builds fierce loyalty with the customers who are right for you … and lets the rest move on to something else. In other words, the kind that builds a great business that makes plenty of money and gives you a lot of joy along the way.
Rather than try and paraphrase Erika’s recipe, I’ll quote it for you here:
- Personality: Your brand is a who and never a what. People do business with people.
- Approachability: If you haven’t created a personality that lets our audience know they can talk to your brand, you need to rethink the personality you created.
- Sharability: Your brand personality along with the welcome mat you put out for your audience dictates how, why, and how often people whare you with the people in their lives (also known as your potential customers).
- Scalability: Every unpopular brand pays attention to infrastructure — if you’ve spent the effort on creating an approachable personality that makes your audience want to share your brand, growth is inevitable and you must be able to deal with it.
- Profitablity: You’ve invested in the who and put out the welcome mat. Word’s gotten around, and you’re growing. You’ve built the infrastructure to support the growth. Now, how do you make sure you remain solvent and keep on track so that you can point your brand toward generation revenue? The emotional and practical impliations of profitability.
So is it just about being a jerk?
(Erika uses another word, but I’ll keep it family-friendly here.)
It would be easy to think Erika is advocating being offensive for its own sake, or tearing down what’s popular in order to attract attention.
But Erika’s too smart a businesswoman for that, and she knows very well that attention for its own sake will never make you rich. (Or happy, for that matter.)
Anyone can be a train wreck. Unpopular isn’t about being a loudmouth or even (necessarily) a contrarian — it’s about how humility, courage, and purpose can lead you to create something much stronger than any of your “Me-Too” competitors will be able to conceive of.
Who should read Unpopular?
You should add Unpopular to your shelf if you’ve had trouble coming up with a unique business identity that feels real and compelling.
You’ll also get a lot out of it if you ever go through periods when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels as a business owner, working harder and harder without getting any traction.
You should not pick up Unpopular if you’re not willing to think of what you do as a business. (Even if it’s just you and your computer, working three hours a week because that’s all the time you can carve out right now.)
You should also avoid it if you have an issue with “salty language.” Erika is on the Blazin’ Buffalo Doritos end of that spectrum.
And finally, you should pick up something else if you want “quick fix” techniques. While there’s plenty of tactical advice here, it all works in a context of a larger strategy. Without the strategy, the tactics won’t do much for you.
Why strive to build an unpopular brand in the first place? Because …
Above all, unpopular brands are loved. Adored. Not by everyone and not by just anyone — but by the right people.
We’ve got two free copies to give away!
Erika has kindly given us two free digital copies of Unpopular to give away.
To enter your name for the giveaway, just click the handy Tweet button a few lines down to retweet this post.
We’ll pick two names at random in an entirely unscientific manner, and our lucky winners will get a copy in either Kindle, Nook, or Google Books format — your choice.
Or if you’re the impatient type, you can go grab the book here.
How about you — has taking an unpopular angle ever benefited your business? Let us know about it in the comments.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. She welcomes your salty business insights on twitter.