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.