'Find The Kitchen': Your New Online Marketing Mantra

We've all been there. You go to a party at someone's house. The owner of the home has lovingly arranged the living room, dusting off all her old folding chairs and setting up a variety of cozy nooks to foster heart-to-heart chats. And yet, for some reason, nobody wants to hang out there. Instead, they're all in the kitchen: close to the beer, the sink, and the top-up of guacamole.

At said party, you may have also experienced an attempt to get people to move from the kitchen to the living room. After all, the host put so much effort into making the living room an enticing spot. "Come and have a seat over here," she urges. "That's fascinating! Let's go to the couch and you can tell me all about it." And yet, for some reason, nobody wants to take her up on her offer. Instead, they're all in the kitchen: close to the other people, the energy, and the heart of the party.

I would hereby like to propose a new chant, mantra, rallying cry for those of us who seek to use the Internet in any business sense: Find The Kitchen.

How many marketing dollars have been spent trying to convince people to come to a destination site? How much time and effort have we put into creating our own online communities, distinct from, but not really competing with, major platform communities like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter?

If you're looking to establish or leverage a presence online, you need to find the heart of the online party as it relates to your business. Where are people discussing your brand or your industry? Where are people engaging online about synergistic topics? Where is the kitchen?

Even today, the Internet is so sexy that we often forget why we're there. Clients show up saying, "I've been hearing so much about Twitter; I really want to make sure my company's on there." That doesn't really make any sense. After all, you wouldn't go up to a builder and say, "I've been hearing so much about hammers lately; can we make sure we're using plenty of hammers to build this house?"

We forget that all media are tools: tools for business use and tools for personal interaction. We join LinkedIn because it is a valuable professional networking tool. We join Facebook because it is a powerful tool to help us stay connected with our friends. As individuals, we get this, but as marketers, we struggle to remember that our job is not to be cool -- but to find the market.

You may have two kitchens: one for search, and one for social media. Your search kitchen is probably pretty direct: you're after people who are looking for your type of product, or complementary products. To find your social media kitchen, though, you may need to mix metaphors and figure out what your holes are. Remember that old saying? You don't sell drills, you sell holes. People may not be talking about ski boots, but they'll sure be talking about skiing.

If you're looking for your kitchen on social media, don't make any assumptions about where you'll find it. It may turn out that nobody's discussing anything even remotely relevant on Twitter or Facebook, but that YouTube is chock-full of related videos. Or Flickr has a whole category devoted to it. Once you find the kitchen, you'll know: there's tons of community interaction, participation, commentary and conversation -- energy that you can tap into to grow your own community presence.

Whatever you do, don't hang out in the living room. It's lonely there, and there's no food.

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12 comments about "'Find The Kitchen': Your New Online Marketing Mantra".
  1. Brandon Sutton from brandonsutton.com , October 27, 2009 at 4:10 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more, and the analogy is perfect! So many times I've been talking to (existing or potential) clients about this concept. The conversations often drift to the discussion of dragging users from a social network over to a brand website vs. interacting with them on the network they are already on. I'm a proponent of interacting with people wherever they are most comfortable, as long as there is a value proposition. As marketers, our job is to ring the register, not rack up web visits. If our customers can interact with us on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, on a mobile device, or wherever else, why not engage with them there? Consumers know where the food is - marketers should too. Great post!

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , October 27, 2009 at 4:29 p.m.

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL ! And Everybody goes where everybody goes .Everybody wants to be with everybody. Usually, it is in the kitchen. So when you have that party, never have enough chairs so people have to stand to mingle. Too many sites = too many chairs.

  3. Bruce Christensen from PartyWeDo , October 27, 2009 at 5:05 p.m.

    Kaila,
    You are absolutely spot-on with your party analogy.
    When we set out to develop our online party application we looked at creating a standalone platform where we would entice people to come into our "living room".
    We took some excellent advice and changed to launching the party right in the Facebook kitchen.
    Friends and families are in the kitchen looking for connections, so taking the party to them is a better strategy.
    Besides, it saves the wear and tear on the living room furniture!

  4. David Murdico from Supercool Creative , October 27, 2009 at 5:19 p.m.

    Awesome!

    David
    http://www.supercoolcreative.com

  5. Tara anne Michels from MessageDriven , October 27, 2009 at 5:57 p.m.

    Great analogy! The question for marketers today is what makes them want to come to interact with you at the party? As others are saying, engagement is key here. No one is going to talk to the dull wall flower at the party.

    Tara Anne Michels, Ph.D.
    www.messagedriven.com

  6. Susan Fantle from The Copy Works , October 27, 2009 at 7:06 p.m.

    An "Awesome" ditto. You're so right. Prospects can't be dragged where they don't want to go.

  7. Stuart Long , October 28, 2009 at 2:29 p.m.

    Great writing Kayla, a great party is no place for control freaks. Go with the flow and follow the conversation and it becomes easier to get into a “the more the merrier” marketing position. Great job.

  8. Katherine Ryan from Independent Consulting , October 28, 2009 at 5:32 p.m.

    Really fun read. I like the hammer analogy. You are right, Kaila, it's not called "social" networking for nothing.

  9. Mark allen Roberts from Out of the Box Solutions, LLC , October 28, 2009 at 10:58 p.m.

    Great Post,

    The challenge is to use marketing tools and not become one as I discuss in my blog http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/entrepreneur-best-practices-13-hire-strategic-partners-not-marketing-tools/

    Mark Allen Roberts
    www.nosmokeandmirrors.com

  10. Kaila Colbin from Ministry of Awesome , October 29, 2009 at 3:16 a.m.

    Thanks, you guys! I'm glad to see this metaphor is resonating for you -- I've found it really effective when discussing social media with my clients. Please keep the comments coming, and feel free to share your own metaphors :-)

  11. Allen Maccannell from SenderOK , October 30, 2009 at 11:03 a.m.

    Great analogy!

    For the Email Marketing & Deliverability Industry...isn't the kitchen now...Twitter?

    I feel it is that + MediaPost. We have 112 Facebook connections but we only make big (weekly) announcements there as opposed to 15 tweets per day on Twitter.

    Am I missing other alcoves and the patio (where the cool cats are hiding out)?

  12. Cora Brady from Mom Central Consulting , November 13, 2009 at 7:03 a.m.

    So very true! How often are you in a meeting with a brand client when you hear "we need to be on facebook!" when the objectives and tactics have yet to be established. Mom Central' advice to our clients - understand your targets behaviours (are they joiners, spectators, creators of content etc..) prior to deciding what platforms you want to be using and then, go where they are. Finally and most importantly, go there and add VALUE, not just by placing your brand in the space.