(True story, but details have been changed to protect my highly lauded tweep’s Identity)
No-one really believes in gurus, right?? I mean, sure, let’s call them experts. But ‘guru’ sounds almost transcendental, like they have exclusive access to knowledge from a higher consciousness. They haven’t really got that kind of access to supernatural wisdom, have they – no matter how keen we are to confer such greatness on them.
That said, if I call him a guru, I think you’ll know what I mean…
The speaker, author, entrepreneur, specialist & spokesperson in question is a widely acclaimed guru in his field. Thousands worldwide gravitate towards his insights & material.
He followed me on Twitter! I followed back, genuinely interested in receiving his tweets in my timeline.
I’d caught enough of a glimpse to suspect this chap was on top of his game. But weeks later, I’d all but forgotten just how much gravitas he carried, or why. And because of my burgeoning workload, regretfully, I hadn’t kept up with his tweets.
So when I got a direct tweet from him, complete with link offering a free e-book by way of thanks for following, I was both pleased & interested. The topic was directly related to my fast-ripening workload, recently swollen in the summer sun. So I clicked through.
Now remember, I’d been offered a free e-book & was clearly told I was pre-qualified to receive it. So I naively expected to be taken to a splash page where I could download my little prezzie.
But instead, I was a little taken aback when said page invited me to subscribe to a newsletter, in return for said e-book.
There was no mention in the slightest of the offer’s original frame as it was initially presented to me.
Now I like to think I’m a generous-hearted kind of fellow. So it didn’t occur to me to be offended, thinking I’d been told a little white lie, in an attempt to swell my guru friend’s presumably hearty mailing list.
So I tapped a quick tweet back. I thanked my friend for his welcome offer, but gently asked if I had to opt-in, was the gift really a reward or was it actually an incentive?
Okay, that wasn’t the question I was curious to get answered. But I couldn’t think of a non-confrontational way within 140 characters to ask why a celebrated marketer would be careless enough to risk misrepresenting themselves, potentially affecting their reputation, ticking off their audience & weakening ties with them…
Our protagonist replied – almost curtly – that if I’d rather not want to opt-in, simply send my e-mail address & the e-book would be mine.
Again, this isn’t what I wanted either (not easily pleased, am I?…). I had rather hoped a dialogue would ensue. Because we had just come close to the central point that so intrigued me: had our ‘guru’ got so lost in their reputation that they’d forgotten that possibly, there may be someone out there who doesn’t know who they are? Were they taking their constituents for granted?
Or had they simply not considered the fact that by misrepresenting their offer they were misleading folk – and in doing so, were risking weakening their brand?
So here’s the takeout: if you’re active on it, Twitter quickly gets congested. So much so, that it can either be difficult to recall the cachet each individual or business carried that made you follow them to begin with, or you simply followed them loosely, with little or no real appreciation of why they’re a good thing.
Which is why it’s critical to ensure that in all your communications – particularly ones which aim to convert followers to subscribers, or even fans – that at some point you clearly communicate why it is anyone should accept your invite to go deeper.
In other words, make the sell by selling the exchange. Let your audience know why they need to opt in. How? By telling them what it is they’re exchanging their personal details and access to their e-mail inbox for.
And, at the very least, make sure you never assume someone knows why they should. Or put them in the position where they might think you’re taking their esteem for granted…