For example, I've realized that there are some very stubborn and pervasive misconceptions about social media in particular and online marketing in general. These are mainly to do with technology. It's astonishing how many people seem to think social media marketing is "all about computers"; that it's a primarily technological process. But it's not like that at all. It's all about people in the end.
This idea that it's a geek's territory is so widespread it's almost a given. So disabusing someone of this misconception is usually my main aim, at least in the beginning. If I can do that I know I will have helped them quite a bit.
I've also learned what they expect from a private lesson. There seem to be two general types of student. The first is someone who really doesn't know much at all and just wants someone who does to come in and pretty much take over and tell them what they need to know to get started. These are exactly the kind of people I want to meet because in an a couple of hours I can give them a good introduction, illustrated with real examples, into the whole journey of social media (and it is a journey!).
Usually these people twig to what it's all about pretty quickly and I see the scales drop form their eyes. It's a great feeling because they realize it's not nearly as daunting as they thought it would be and they already have all that they need to succeed with it. It feels good to walk out of a lesson like this because I may well have saved them a lot of money. Instead of paying someone to do this for them they'll probably get into it themselves, which is always the best option in the long term anyway ...
Then there are people who know a bit, are well into the whole world of social media, but are frustrated for whatever reason. Maybe they've got a Facebook page that's going okay, but they feel they've hit a bit of a wall and want to know some tricks and techniques to overcome these. Or maybe they've got a Twitter account and they just don't have time, so they want me to basically tell them what to do to get the absolute maximum benefit for the least amount of effort. Or perhaps they have aesthetic concerns and want to know how to redesign their pages ...
They're looking for a trouble shooter, a consultant, or a guru. Much as many people go to get advice on where to invest money, they say you're the expert, tell me what to do.
At the risk of sounding judgemental they don't want to learn in the truest sense of the word. They want a problem solved and that's it. They want to be given a strategy they can follow to save time and money. That's perfectly valid, and a lot of business is conducted in this way. There are people who offer these kind of services. But I'm not comfortable doing so.
I'm a bit of purist, I think. I just don't want to give them tasks to follow. My whole approach is based on the idea that the business owner is the expert in his field. So he is the best one to carry out his online marketing. I just want to quickly show these people how the social networks work so they can get going in the right direction and own the process themselves.
In the end site like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the like are just communication tools, not unlike the phone or the postal service. They're just way more efficient, targeted and comprehensive than those are. They have enormous potential. But you've got to want to own the process to realize that potential. You can't do it at arm's length, logging in every 3 months. You have to get into it!
If people have this intention, then I can help them. But if they don't I can't. So that's what I try and figure out. That's why I say to some people that I can't help and that they're probably better off Googling for answers to their specific issue. They'll almost certainly find them there, and for free!
A lot of people would probably think I'm mad, doing myself out of easy money! But I think you've got to have a clear idea of what you're offering, and stick to that.