Near the end of 2008, I came up with a pithy saying that many people named Brian Carter tend to repeat:

>> Generosity is a strategy with a positive ROI

I've heard it echoed lately by other marketers. Because it's true. And because it works. Not because they heard me say it.

Why Should You Care About Being Generous?

Because when we do Social Media Marketing, we're trying to get something. It's a selfish activity. The goal is to get something for ourselves. We want sales or leads or something.

Photo by Anonymous9000

But we know as marketers that our prospects are tuned into radio WIIFM (What's In It For Me), so we have to appeal to their selfishness to get what we want. But even that approach can come off sounding really manipulative.

There's a better place to come from, and it sounds like this:

>> I actually do want to serve you.
>> I've thought a lot about you, your situation and your needs.
>> I found some solutions that will improve your situation and help you meet your goals.
>> They've helped me, and others. These are proven to work.

Photo by ^riza^

[No the kids aren't your solution. I was looking for a photo to symbolize sincerity.]

Social media is about focusing on others, not on yourself. Business is about serving others, not getting the better of them. You can make money by taking advantage of people and manipulating them, but if you want to sleep at night, and you don't want to worry about negative PR, it's better to take the generous approach.

It finally clicked for me that for me to win, you have to win, this is not a negotiation.

It works best when I'm only thinking about your win.

Why Win-Win Isn't Good Enough

I can't speak for you, but I'm naturally selfish. One of my improv teachers said:

>> We don't have to practice being selfish. That comes naturally. We need to practice focusing on others. That takes effort.

If I focus on win-win that doesn't even it out. But if I focus on your needs and your wins, then I'm a more balanced human being.

On the other hand, some people are overly generous

  • They don't protect themselves
  • They don't go after anything for themselves
  • They aren't comfortable asking for money
  • They don't ask for the sale

This is also unbalanced, in my opinion.

How Do You Apply Generosity To Social Media to Get ROI?

I have no idea- I'm just making all this up.

Just kidding.

When we talk about generosity in Social Media, we're talking about giving several different things:

  • Content: Useful, free content that actually helps the prospect. If you're in entertainment, then entertaining them is helping them- otherwise, the free content should solve a problem or help the prospect get closer to their desire.
  • Stuff: social media incentives or bribes. These are two words for the same thing. You give them something in exchange for an email address, or you dangle it as bait in a contest, or to get them to do whatever.
  • Answers: Helpful answers to questions and customer service

I think the second one (bribes/incentives) sounds the most manipulative- however, these really are valuable things you're giving away.

Incentives & My 4 Steps of the Social Focus Path

For example...

Case Study: Myrtle Beach Resort Vacation Giveaway

One of our clients is giving away something on Facebook every week, and this week we gave away a free two night stay at a great Myrtle Beach Resort. People were so excited that one of them generated 477 comments from friends in order to win it.

More than that, we got a bunch of people to focus on VACATION, an idea that lifts them out of their daily grind.

Core Desire and The Core Of Your Offering

What we really sell for this client is how vacations make people feel. We reminded them of that while giving one person that dream for zero money. In her case as well, she couldn't afford to come down, but she could afford to spend her time and her social capital to make it happen. This kind of activity is growing our fanbase dramatically. And that exchange of time and social activity for money or other goods is the essence of social media marketing.

We also offer discounts all week and engage our fans with content that reminds them of the vacation experience. Students of visualization understand that reminding someone of vacation actually has a physiological benefit- it reduces stress and changes your neuroendocrine state. I'm not making this up- there are medical studies. For reals.

But to get to this level of marketing, we had to think deeply about our customers and prospects and really understand what their core desire was (thanks to marketer Frank Kern's Core Influence process)- we're not really selling rooms. We're selling the mythical joy of family vacation freedom and relaxation. They buy rooms to get that experience. So on Facebook we don't talk about rooms. We talk about that experience.

Let's review.

Here's how to get the bribe you're generously giving:

Here's why it works:

Go and do likewise.