Every Sunday, I stop at the grocery store. I generally grab some fresh flowers and various odds and ends – but there’s one thing I never forget: a bag of apples. And no – I’m not worried about keeping the doctor away.
On my way into work and while running around town each day, there’s always someone standing on the corner with a sign. Someone whose life is in a different place than mine. The apples are for them. Yeah, I’m the asshole who holds-up traffic as I roll through the stoplight at a snail’s pace because I’m handing someone an apple.
One day it was a med student with a sign asking for tuition money. This past Friday, it was a rather clever sign that said, “You’re getting very sleepy…you will give me money.” Another was (my all-time fave), “I know – get a job bum!”
No matter what the sign says, there’s an apple.
In a time where we’re faced with a challenging economy and businesses are all seemingly scraping and battling for the same customer, this week’s blog is about buying your business a bag of apples. I’m talking about altruism, and it applies to your business, your social media efforts and pretty much life in general.
Let’s consider: how much of a jerk would I be if, after doling out an apple to someone in need, I stood there waiting for them to do something for me in return?
It’s no different in your business and personal life. I’m annoyed by those who dangle the carrot, interested more in their own bottom line than the lining of someone else’s stomach.
Let me preface the remainder of this (short) entry by saying that no one gets up in the morning and goes to work for free. Business, by design, is to generate revenue. There are plenty of incredible people out there who make livings out of teaching others how to do things – but most of them don’t call themselves “experts” or “gurus.” They’re consultants and their businesses thrive (just like yours) on referrals from other satisfied customers.
But in social media, business and your own life, how cool is it when you happen upon a tasty morsel – and you didn’t have to pay for it?
When no one said:
“Sure, I’ll tweet your blog if you pimp my (piece of shit) eBook that runs my readers $29.95.”
“Yeah, I’ll help you move if you help me pick up the dog crap in my backyard.”
Life brings us surprises each and every day and if you’re using social media to drive your business’ bottom line and not seeing results: you’re doing it wrong. Remember that awesome line out of the 80’s classic file “Mr. Mom” when Michael Keaton’s kids told him “you’re doing it wrong?” He didn’t believe them until a fellow parent came along and confirmed it: “You’re doing it wrong.”
Stop taking the “220…221…whatever it takes” approach to your social media efforts and get in there with a bag of apples. Stop being concerned about what you’ll get in return from your blog posts (and by the way, this blog monetizes itself only through referrals and readers who have become clients – and thanks to all of you). Stop being the undeniable douchebag whose StumbleUpon and Twitter stream are filled with “guru” and “expert” statements and lack any sort of conversation. Just stop already.
When someone asks a question, respond with heartfelt personal experience. If it’s relevant, link them to one of your blog entries or an article you’ve written on the topic. Share a blog comment. Engage.
When someone needs a retweet (it’s people helping people), tweet it. Even if it’s outside of the topics you generally talk about with your followers, lick it and stick it in your stream. They’ll appreciate it. Especially if it’s something like THIS from @manicmother – I don’t know her, but shit. The least I can do is share this with my readers and hope it helps. Her infant son has cancer and faces 3 years of chemo. Fuck cancer.
Stop faciliating bad social media behavior. Quit rewarding the disingenuous, the number hounds, gurus and experts with follow-backs and tit-for-tat moves that don’t do anything except piss off your true fans and those who look to your content for advice and on occasion, a laugh.
Fill your social media basket with altruism like I fill the passenger seat of my car with apples. You don’t have to give away the pie in order to let your peers have a nosh on your apples of knowledge. And unlike the whole mythical Adam & Eve scenario, you’re never going to get bashed for sharing the fruits of your labor. Quit marketing and start conversing.
So yeah – apples.
Get some. Some weeks, I go through 2 bags – a mere $3.89 each. I never even realize how many I’ve given away until I’m on my last one.
Then give some.
And then walk away…with your hands in your pockets, not extended for the reciprocal handout.
And unlike in social media, the folks on the corner I give the apples to always say “thank you.”
I wonder why that is.