I was thinking about how it would be so much easier if our customers would identify themselves. You know, if you’re selling education for small businesses, it’d be great if prospective customers walked around tweeting things like, “I wish I could find education for small businesses.” Right?
But then it struck me that even though our customers rarely identify themselves in so useful a way, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do more with sending out signal flares to better identify ourselves for potential opportunities that we might want. Know what I mean?
There are lots of examples of people seeking jobs by creating their own little social media projects. I found Twitter Should Hire Me, and we talked to Eric Romer, who did Hire me, Headblade (successfully). I found @NEScomHireMe and @HireMeJimmy (who wants Jimmy Fallon to hire him).
These are all signal flares that were set up and that make sense.
You can watch Gary Vaynerchuk’s social media stream for the next handful of days. He’s working hard to promote his new book, the Thank You Economy. We’ll do the same when the next book comes out, too. When Gary sends up the “Buy Me” flare, it’s easy for you to understand what he’s asking you to do. One of the things we do in social media is use it to promote things we’re selling.
Watch Twitter over the next little while during South by Southwest (aka nerd spring break). People will be using the social web as a “find me” tool, because no matter how ubiquitous we think things like Foursquare and Gowalla are getting, it’s just easier to try and find people by pinging the larger Twitter sphere. (Just as I started doing my search, Ashton Kutcher announced that he’d be at SXSW. He’s saying “find me.”)
Signal Flares Can Be Tricky
Sending up these virtual signal flares can be tricky. First off, there are lots of people sending up their flares and there aren’t necessarily enough people listening. Secondly, people rarely put up their intentions clearly. Sometimes, they sell sloppily. Other times, they seek employment without outright asking for it. Thirdly, signals might come during a hectic time and be missed, unless someone camps out in a search mode looking for such.
What do you do? First, be concise. Second, try not to seem desperate. Third, it’s okay to send a similar flare up three or maybe four times a day (but that’s it, and maybe not EVERY day). Also, often times, you get better results asking for something when you’ve been good at helping others and answering such requests.
The Real Opportunity
The real opportunity is in being a flare spotter. If you want the real big win, help when you see people needing help. Search for what you can help with. Look for those putting up flares.
I didn’t attend SXSW in 2007, but I helped a lot of people find each other, back when Twitter was tiny and easy to navigate. It was a lot of fun. I felt like a virtual traffic director. There are lots of opportunities to do helpful things like that with the medium.
What Flares Do You Want to Send?
Do you have anything particular you want to send out to the universe to be answered? What do you want from the world? What help do you wish you could draw to yourself?
The answer isn’t always easy. Whenever I’m faced with the questions I just asked you, I can rarely answer. But what’s your take?