Barack Obama won’t know Darwin from a bar of soap

Barack Obama in a relaxed 'Top End' state (Photo: jurvetson via Flickr)

Barack Obama in a relaxed, 'Top End' state

When this week’s visit to Darwin is over, US President Barack Obama still will be almost none the wiser about Darwin, the Nothern Territory and its people.

Reports on the President’s security and itinerary reveal he will get about as much of a glimpse of Darwin as locals will get of him – almost zip!

There is something about this heavily stage-managed and manicured expedition that speaks directly to your business and your marketing efforts: genuine engagement with your marketplace involves risk.

Barack Obama advertising style

In many ways, Barack Obama’s tighly sealed and packaged visit is very much like the way businesses have traditionally approached communications with their publics.

From dry media releases and rehearsed cliches to fake, over-hyped advertising speak, ‘communication’ has generally been one way and top down.

While social media technologies which make it easier to engage intimately with more people than ever before have only existed in the mainstream for about four years, the overriding reason for taking this disengaged approach to advertising and communication have been because it:

  • minimises risk
  • delivers scales of efficiency

And those reasons are correct.

Canned, mass-produced messaging does minimise risk because the speaker has thumbs in both ears while beligerantly ignoring any signs of conversation or criticism. It is a blissful state of ignorance.

At the same time, churning out brochures or ads or holding media conferences does indeed offer efficiency because one burst of effort can be disseminated far and wide.

But there is a price for this safety and convenience

This wonderfully packaged way of communicating with the great ‘out there’ only looks appealing from the creator’s perspective. At the other end, mass produced babble and hype simply trickles or floods through our lives as noise; just like a deafening Wet Season storm but without the relief that it brings!

How can you tick MY boxes when you are creating a one-size-fits-all message?

Barack Obama social media style

If the US President had the wherewithal to visit Darwin in the style of the social media that he used so well to sweep into office, he would leave a changed man.

Firstly, when President Obama arrives at Darwin Airport, he wouldn’t be shielded behind screens, he would mingle his way through the various groups of passengers tucking into fried chicken, drinking a few ales, or being charged a credit card surcharge at the Australian Way gift shop (something to talk about another time). He would be mingling with people flying out to remote communities, to mining operations, soldiers, business people, government representatives, and even ordinary, everyday Territorian people who don’t mind a chat if you’re up for one.

He might then stand at the taxi rank and enjoy the Wet Season humidity while waiting for one or two cabs to appear.

Some fish feeding, some barramundi catching, a hit of golf, and the dodging of crocs at Berry Springs would all be the order of the day, let alone a little ride with members of the Humpty Doo Clip Clop Club!

He might visit one of the industrial sheds at Winnellie, some building sites, and even spend time with the wharfies. This would let him experience what it is like to be putting your shoulder to the wheel in the real world.

I could then picture him in Mitchell Street, sitting al fresco style enjoying a coffee or beer while immersed in conversations embodying just about every accent under the sun.

Yes, he might get asked for spare change or bump into someone ‘under the weather’. Yes, he might be distracted by the ‘summer uniforms’ that many locals and visitors wear during our balmy days and nights. But he would truly taste the Top End.

Of course, his goal is NOT to mingle with the locals, earn their trust, or make himself accessible as the ‘go to’ person people turn to.

But yours is.

Your business can thrive through ups and downs if you have immersed yourself in conversations with your marketplace.

It sounds like hard work because it is hard work. Anything in life or business worth doing will often require you to go the extra mile and social media marketing is no different.

It will not be cleanly efficient or safe. It will be messy and demanding and you will risk having someone backchat you and take you to task over your thoughts and opinions.

But various utterences of yours WILL tick all my boxes because you are answering my questions or writing directly for me; your customer or prospect.

And best of all, unlike the President’s visit or your ad, your social media efforts won’t be a flash in the pan.

The first step is to revisit the two commandments of social media marketing and then marry that mindset with YOUR business goals.

Say hi to Barack for me!



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