Do Work That Matters For People Who Care, and More Revolutionary Guidance from Seth Godin

“There’s no reason to do anything you’re doing, unless
you’re seeking to change someone.”

This sentiment, shared early on in Seth
closing keynote, “Social
Media and the Revolution
,” could be taken cynically: changing
a behavior for the benefit of a corporation, to sell a product or
service that they may or may not need. But with his trademark
earnest energy, Godin managed to sell a rapt audience that idea
with the best of intentions. Marketers, he says, “tell stories.
We make a difference. We make change happen.” And in a lively
forty minutes, he shared some inspirational and actionable ways to
do this in our everyday work.

Away with Average

The metrics of success on social media are clear. Likes,
follows, comments, “engagements,” and so forth. It’s easy to
know when you’re doing it “well,” so to speak. But Godin
believes that it can be a trap of false progress. Being good at
social media isn’t the point, he said. “Getting good isn’t
hard. It’s a symptom that you did something else right.”

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The challenge with social media, he went on to say, is that
there’s a temptation to get those numbers up, and in the process
comes a desire to please as many people as possible. It’s a
“race for mass,” that pushes you to try and get everyone on
board. But that dilutes your power. “If you make something
everyone wants, you have to be average,” he insisted. And to aim
for average, in a medium that can so powerfully attract passionate
people when used right, seems like a waste of that power.

From Funnels to Microphones

So what should we do with that power instead? Use it to gain
permission, Godin said. “Permission is the privilege of marketing
to people who want to be marketed to.” And you can’t
realistically successfully market to everyone. You can, however,
market to some people. “The right people. Your people.” He
likened it to the Tinder experience: you can swipe right on every
option available to you and hope something sticks, or you can go on
dates that lead to a lasting connection. “Why aren’t you dating
your prospects?” he mused aloud.

Instead of trying to reach everyone, he shared, we should seek
to reach the smallest viable audience and delight them so
thoughtfully and fully that they tell the others. That they
eliminate the need for a funnel, by flipping it sideways and using
it as a megaphone. “You can seek out the people who care,” he
offered, “or you can yell at the people in the middle who are
ignoring you.” By building a strategy that carefully entices and
serves the people who cares, who knows? Maybe they’ll yell at the
people in the middle and bring them along for the ride.

“Make Things Better, By Making Better Things.”

Embracing this strategy is challenging. It’s challenging
because it flies in the face of what we’ve been taught, and how
we’re often managed to work. Godin acknowledges this as part of
the problem. Marketers are too often managed, when they should
actually be empowered to lead. Leading means navigating through the
unknown, acknowledging fear, but not letting that fear hamper the
ability to move forward. People who are led are allowed to adjust,
to experiment, and to connect with others in pursuit of their
shared goals and interests. This permission and empowerment for
adjustment and adaptation makes your work better, and often also
makes your product better. Godin put it simply: “make things
better, by making better things.”

And making better things should also apply to our social media
presence. Rather than treating is as the next wave or iteration of
TV as a broadcast mechanism, use it as a platform for community.
Social media’s potential as a gathering place for passionate
communities means our presence there should unite people
meaningfully. “People like us, do things like this,” he offered
as a mantra for those seeking to remake their online presence. The
most effective marketers “figure out who the people like us are,
earn their trust and attention, and show them what the things like
this are.” These strategies create brand evangelists, empowered
to use your product or service in a way that supports who they are
– or who they’d like to be.

Put Your Footprints on the Moon

Godin closed with an anecdote about meeting Neil Armstrong at a
retreat in New Mexico. As Armstrong spoke about the challenges of
the Apollo 11 mission, a full moon rose above the group—as if
choreographed to do so. Armstrong looked up and said, “I’ve
been there.”

In his remaining moments with the group, Godin encouraged them
to conjure that image whenever they felt powerless to make an
impact with their work. A group of people sought to do something
that had never been done, and had to make countless leaps that had
never before been attempted. They led the way to the Moon by doing
so. While it might not seem as though the work marketers set out to
do can have that level of impact, it can if you reach that high.
You can lead in your field, and lead your customers to goals they
never imagined possible. “We need you to lead us,” he said as
he finished. And it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could
leave Godin’s talk, not feeling empowered to reach that high.

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The post
Do Work That Matters For People Who Care, and More Revolutionary
Guidance from Seth Godin
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Do Work That Matters For People Who Care, and More Revolutionary Guidance from Seth Godin