I’m Jim. I’m a copywriter. And I could be wrong, but I was always under the impression that whatever I wrote was supposed to create something like an internal dialogue in the mind of the person reading it so that they felt that the correspondence was created exclusively for them. Personal. Like a letter. Think of it this way – are you more likely to act because a stranger commands you to, or because a friend recommends that you do?
Saturday morning Chris Brogan posted a link to a new post "How Relationships Improve Sales." In it, Chris says he was in the shower thinking about how relationships lead to sales. Strange coincidence, as I was thinking about the same thing this morning – sort of. (I was also in the shower thinking about it, but the fact that 90% of the ideas I have for blog posts or taglines or ad concepts or pretty much anything occurs when I’m in the shower, isn’t important.) Rather, I was thinking about how the transition to Social Media away from traditional advertising communications isn’t that big a leap for copywriters. In fact, when you consider the whole thing about exclusivity and personalization above, it kind of makes sense that we thrive as communications agents in Social Media. One year ago, after I’d been involved with SM for about a month, I wrote a post called "Revenge of the Copywriter." In it, I proclaim how I believed that copywriters will thrive in SM by working for big brands. This idea was, again, based on the personalization thing. Only, my proclamation didn’t exactly pan out. Yes, I'm sure there are copywriters working for brands out there now, but not on the scale I’d imagined. Rather, most of the people Tweeting and blogging on behalf of the big brands are mostly PR and general marketing people (and in some cases, designers – gasp!) Granted, not all copywriters subscribe to the idea of exclusivity, and not every copywriter has the acumen to pull this off, but I sure thought a lot more of us would be out there engaging for pay. Still do. It just makes sense. Maybe there are agencies out there trying to pull clients into SM but don’t know how to utilize their stable of writers? Plus, it’s time consuming. And we’re usually not cheap. When you start adding up hours for professional copywriters and then placing that next to a sales schematic based on regular marketing efforts, people are likely to freak out a little.
And I’m sure some of you will say, “Copywriters are liars and manipulators.” But I say you’re wrong. Sure, there are writers out there who SELL SELL SELL at any cost, but that’s usually because that's exactly what that brand wants. Besides, in Social Media, that stuff don’t fly. Writers who thrive in the hard sell are useless here and will probably go away with print.
I’ve always written to engage people as personally as possible with the idea that relationships lead to sales. The point is to do more than just get in someone’s pocketbook – but get in their hearts. By respecting the audience, you gain their trust – and sales follow. Is this manipulation? I guess you could make an argument that by hiring a professional writer, you tilt the conversation in your favor. But really, it’s just articulating an idea to someone who cares. It’s not up to us to sell the products – but for the products to sell themselves.
Too much pressure is put on the ROI of Social Media. The brands that can afford to engage their audience in a true personal relationship are going to kill here because the core concept of Social Media is built around relationships, personalization, exclusivity and openness. Products and services sell themselves. Put relationships in front of sales, and Brogan’s absolutely right.