Some of you may know that Jonathan and I are huge fans of huge dogs: Newfoundland Dogs to be precise. We grew up with these gentle giants and have come to love them with all our heart. They helped us make new friends (dogs and people), they join us for our beloved outdoor activities. With our current Newfoundland Dog – a black-and-white called (Friendly) Fellow, we even joined a rescue dog squat and are now working as rescue dog handlers in our spare time.
But apart from everything else, these super friendly furry beasts can teach us a lot about marketing. Some of the behavior that comes naturally to our dogs can easily be seen as a role model for marketing communication and interaction – especially in online marketing.
So, here are 6 marketing lessons that Mikos the gentle teddy bear you can see in my Twitter avatar and Fellow the playful, agile young black-and-white that you can find in my Facebook profile want to teach you:
1. Leave time for some sniffing and getting to know
Dogs have a ritual when they meet: They watch, they sniff, they walk around in circles before deciding on enemy or friend, engaging in business or play, or just walking by.
Even though social media is a fast moving world, leave time for some sniffing around before deciding if your potential connection is friend or foe (and certainly before bombarding them with a business proposition).
(This tip is from Mikos, the brown bear. Fellow firmly believes that every dog that walks this earth is his friend – foes don’t exist in his Newfoundland Dog world – so he openly invites every dog he meets for a solid round of playing even if the answer is a growl or some bared teeth.)
2. It is not the loudest dog that is the strongest, fastest or best
Newfoundland Dogs rarely bark or growl, but if they do, they have a reason and something to say. Since they don’t annoy you with constant noise, when you do hear that deep voice, you better pay attention because they have something important to say.
The same goes for marketing: if you have to shout to get noticed, people will tune you out. Great content should be worth being noticed on its own (just like great dogs). When you create something worth reading, people won’t feel violated when you share it. But if they don’t respond to your content, just barking louder (or to say it in social media terms – repeating the same email multiple times in a row OR MAKING YOUR STATUS UPDATE ALL CAPS), does not make you or your content worthier of getting noticed.
While as a marketer it is your duty to help your content spread, that is not about shouting or barking at all!
3. Do not fight each other; social media is social
Walking with dogs in the forest and encountering other dogs you can see two types of behavior, especially in male dogs: Some of them always try to prove that they are better, they make themselves look as big as possible, walking on their toes and pushing up head and tail. The other type is typical for the Newfoundland Dog: They don’t try to impress, they simply know about their size, they are large anyway. They just stay calm and relaxed and tell the other dogs to relax, too. Isn’t it much better to be friends instead of always competing about thin air?
Watching people with different personalities and characteristics fighting over their social media success (like a pack of wolves), I discovered one thing: it is better to work together. The social media cake is big enough for all of us, and you will notice that many big names in marketing have found a way to connect, to help each other, share content and interact. Take blogging as an example. If you start thinking of other bloggers as friends and colleagues instead of competitors or envied foes, you will find many opportunities to profit from each other and grow together.
Take blogging as an example. If you start thinking of other bloggers as friends and colleagues instead of competitors or envied foes, you will find many opportunities to profit from each other and grow together. Think about all the guest blogging opportunities, interviews, expert roundups you could be part of…
Marketers, bloggers, and social media professionals all have their own purposes and want to achieve something unique. But it is not making others small that will enhance your success. In social media, you want to build a reputation – and that is all about the opinion others have of you. Better to treat others with the same care and thoughtfulness you wish to be related to your name, or you can expect your reputation to drop faster than you can build it.
As with dogs – people in social media have long memories. Stay in a positive light with as many people as possible; you never know when you might need the pack.
If you are the biggest dog in the forest and have long thick fur that prevents you from getting injured easily, you can be generous and ignore the attacks from the little ones. Most of the time they just don’t know better or do it out of fear.
There is not much strength to be shown in biting weak opponents. And that type of behavior is certainly beneath Newfoundland Dogs. If you want to show your strength and skill, go for a worthy opponent (maybe, a troll 😉 ) and help the weak find their way.
Social media is still new, even today, many companies have not even hopped on the train, yet. Plus, many people and companies have started to utilize different networks, without having figured out the special mechanisms and processes for each channel. Sometimes people misstep (this has happened to all of us at some point during the learning process); sometimes people shout when they should be soft or post a promotional article or comment in place of being educational and sincere.
Try to remember the times when you were a social media pup yourself. How grateful were you for some pats on the back and scratches behind the ear – for some tips and help, likes and shares.
5. Not everybody is your enemy
Some dogs we meet, bark or growl at Fellow – recently one even jumped him and bit his fur (no, Fellow was not hurt). Some of them, do not recognize Fellow as a dog (he does look like a bear, so that should be forgiven), some of them even may be provoked by his utter calm and lack of angry reaction at the sight of aggressiveness. In most cases, a friendly explanation helps and they still manage to be friends later – that dog that attacked Fellow? He did not even growl the next time we met him…
There are always misunderstandings. In social media, the smile in your words might get lost in your writing. An exclamation mark could be mistaken as a growl while it was intended as a friendly “wuff,” and a comment may be mistaken for an ironic insult when it really was meant in all earnestness to give you a “thumbs up.”
Before succumbing to brash reactions, give people the opportunity to explain their meaning. In many cases, it will turn in your favor – maybe even result in a new friend.
6. Not every bone is worth fighting over
Someone stole Fellow’s best Sunday treat? He won’t even blink an eye. After all, he knows me, and there are more treats for him if he needs one. And he loves his fellow dogs far more than he loves his treats. And, is a treat worth losing a friend or even getting into a fight? Not for a Newfoundland Dog!
Before jumping into the fight, consider if the bone is really worth fighting for. Is there any chance of you getting the bone back? Might others join, making it harder to retrieve? Will the fight even be fair?
Sometimes (even if you are in the right), a third dog might just take off with the bone, while you are still fighting – or worse – by the time you get there, the bone is already gone.
Before jumping on heels of the perpetrator (maybe the blogger who quotes you without mentioning the source) think about the consequences and other ways to settle the argument.
Consider wisely, whether or not you want to engage in public discussion and article comment wars. Even though you might be in the right, in these situations, it is easy to wrongly be labeled a “troublemaker” or “biter” – when all you meant was to defend your position or get back what was yours in the first place.
In social media, there are always new chances to find a hearty bone.
About Newfoundland Dogs
Being calm is one of the primary characteristics of a Newfoundland Dog. Another is thinking first and acting later (even if this might happen in just an instant).
That is a good way to approach social media. Try not to give into every initial impulse – step back, think and act with the consequences in mind.
And never forget to enjoy playing in your expansive social media yard.
And if you liked this little piece of canine marketing advice, please do me and Fellow a favor and pin it!