It’s about right that music and rock stars might be narcissistic in themselves and that their songs and music content reflect that theme. However when that starts showing up in personal and business websites and their related social media, then we should all start to worry.
We live in an age of brands where we are all told we need to create, become and maintain an active personal brand that connects to our business brand where we run our own enterprise at any level. Today we can all see how the unconscious drives of the person behind the personal brand, or who owns, runs or directs the business and personal brands, often shows up in the execution of the marketing and online content of their own business.
The online web and social media presences of the business tend to reveal much about the mindset of the person behind the brand. However, more and more I notice how the content marketing strategies for solos, small business, and some aspiring corporates are simply an extension of what can only be the narcissistic personalities either advising them or running their show.
What’s more is they are influencing others down this blind road of marketing and content that lacks purpose other than pointless self promotion. What I mean by this is that we live in a time of both narcissism as a societal plague, and we all face a tsunami of online content trying to reach audiences with an ultimate aim or call to action to get some behaviour from that audience to occur.
The problem is that when that content is all about “me” then in the immortal lyrics of the Beatles “you aint gonna make it with anyone anyhow”. In the New Economy we are living in an age of “content shock” where the overwhelmed consumer, even armed with a search engine to cut a path through the forests of content in cyber space, often still finds themself in overwhelm at the choices laid in front of them.
It is at this critical opportunity that the few lucky operators who have either carved out a sharp niche, or have a good website which ranks on page one on google for some context or idea, now must convert that inbound or outbound marketing lead into a sale or conversion.
The problem is that websites by their very design are normally a repository of content about oneself and one’s capabilities. The website is the appropriate static repository for such qualifying information and the storage repository for digital brochures, technical information, white papers, articles etc.
It is harder to tailor a call to action for a targeted audience from a static website and so the website should represent the capability statement of your organisation. It is the hub in a hub and spoke configuration where the dynamic content that is your social media presence should be a continual pulse down those chosen channels.
However when that central hub starts to become a shrine of self importance then you are likely to lose much of your audience before you get started. When websites become boasts of “we are the world’s best!!”, “we are the dominators””, “we are the ONLY ones”, or “we have healed thousands”, or “”we have 5000 followers”, then watch the bullshit detectors in most people go off .
The typical behaviour to note is how they click away to the next offering on their search engine list. At the end of the day it’s not about “me” as it’s gotta be about the audience as this is why the business judgement of some spruikers is just terrible.
Much website content when it’s not the necessary but boring product and information mandatory content, needs to be engaging and add value to the life of the audience instead of telling them how “you’re the man or woman”!!
As the various social media platforms evolve into ecosystems of conversation and flowering content then we find that the uninformed or the narcissist wants in on the action and yes they are there to tell you their “the man, their the man, their the man” . If anyone wants to build a brand then it’s a living social process these days that connects and should emotionally affect their target audience.
Sending someone more information about how good you are in your brand is not going to do much for anyone. I watch with horror and fascination the endless contrived or computer generated testimonials, the opportunistic photo grabs of wannabes with famous or overnight sensations, or the grasping but inane show pony but essentially empty life moments of these lost souls.
The only way you can drive a sound content marketing strategy is to reach an intended audience and do something for that audience that adds value. You have to give away not tell the audience look at me and how “I’m the man, I’m the man”
In the same song our Mr Ecco sings “I’ll be the preacher and you be the lesson”. Sounds like he went to the same content marketing gurus who brought us Jordan Belfort and his soulful content(not). The amount of I’m the expert and you’re the dum dum type emails, videos and written content going down our online throats is excessive and offensive.
Psychologically it is not a good strategy to make someone feel inferior, humiliated, shamed or flawed, and then say you will make them feel whole or good again. The transformation will of course be through the agency of their own super human(read narcissistic ego) magical insights, products or transformational experiences you flog to the unwary.
Narcissists as a personality type will either seduce you or break you down and then build you up in their contrived and controlled image, in order to take over you. Notice how much social media, emails, and content marketing comes from these scripts. Remember they are doing you a favour by contacting you rather than they finding grace and appreciation in your considering them.
In fact they are so “the man, the man, the man” , that there are only 8 seats left for their next powerful event. They may tell you there is only 1 day left for you to buy-in and get that powerful discount, or a personally signed photo of them, or some other giveaway that is likely to be on your next garage sale stall table next time you do a declutter!!
I have been to events where 2 days before I got that flashing email that there were only 4 seats left and YOU have special invitation to take one of them if you hurry and hit that commit button. Imagine what it did to my impression of their brand when I got there to find more than 20 seats free in a half filled venue.
Where marketing is built to a strategy of getting sales by saying or promising whatever it takes to get conversion, then you have a brand integrity problem that will undermine your business moving forward. Consumers are cynical by nature and take time to trust brands and people are wary of the extravagant show pony promoters who promise the world in what they do.
A common problem, apart from having a raving narcissist at the helm, can be that many businesses do not have an online content marketing strategy at all. Instead you will find that many website hubs and their social media spokes are an egocentric exercise where the world get an un-coordinated and irrelevant content experience.
The main opportunity that exists for the few is that many are failing to offer credibility, consistency, and authenticity in their digital representations and the way they interact with audiences with their online content. The temptation to imitate others who show pony themselves and who make extravagant claims is one to be resisted unless your business model is geared around unsophisticated customers.
Every business needs an online content management strategy that addresses the key issues of :
- Which content will we use?
- Where do we place it as choices exist in social media channels?
- When do we send it as timing is key?
- What message do we communicate?
- Which brand values show up in this content?
- What call to action do we include?
- What behaviour or action do we want to trigger?
- How do we know if and when that happens?
- How do we measure our efforts?
- How do we engage and listen even if our message fails to convert?
- Who is the target audience and where do they hang out online?
- How do we build relationship even if we do not create sales?
- How can we generate conversation if we do not generate conversion?
- Are we positioned and ready to respond to feedback and conversion response?
- Is the content geared to what our audience wants or needs?
There is a lot to consider to and some of the above has crossover to other points. You need to get it right as there is so much online noise out there that getting heard is hard enough, but getting heard and then being misunderstood or ignored is a tragedy to be avoided.
In Part 2 of this article we will look at some of the avoidable marketing and branding initiatives now popping up around the place and why such efforts damage brand integrity and values whilst often serving agendas not necessarily ethical or honest.