The ads—they interrupt your favorite TV shows, squeeze in between radio tunes, and obstruct the landscape with messages that demand your attention: “Me! Me! Me!”

As consumers, we’ve gotten used to the interruptions of advertising, taking care to make sandwiches during commercials or switch stations to find something better. However, media, entertainment, news, and shopping have taken to the web, where we are the curators of what we see.

The Same Principles No Longer Apply

Perhaps it’s because we are so used to advertising or it could be that very self-curation—or maybe the selfie culture or even the idea that other people care about your food aesthetics—that causes companies, networking professionals, freelancers, and bloggers (and anyone really) who have an audience to make the mistake of posting all about themselves.

Here’s my newest product. Here’s my newest ad. Buy from me… even though I don’t care about you.

Maybe that last bit is a little harsh, but how would your audience get the idea that you do earnestly care about their needs if you exclusively provide self-centered content?

The Internet Is a Big Place

And we all have choices. Marketing on the Internet should be far different from traditional advertising for this reason. It’s no longer the age where we push people toward our products or services but rather the one where we draw them in by providing value and nurturing relationships. This idea is the first and most important tenet of inbound marketing.

Your Content Must Fulfill a Need

Your audience won’t follow you on social media or blogging platforms to have their fun Internet time interrupted.

So don’t be an ad.

What does your audience need from you? What do you have to offer that they’re looking for? Tailor to your audience rather than what you want to say. This will make them come to you to gobble up your content and, eventually, what you’re selling.

If you sell make-up products, it’s those eyebrow tips and tricks your consumers want! It’s those video tutorials! Instead of posting ad after ad of products, build credibility, nurture a positive relationship, satisfy a need, and your target audience will be compelled to buy. Simply because they like you, and they know you care about them.

Win Them Over

Brainstorm ideas  for your topics that appeal to your target audience—the things that people actually go out and search for. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the provider who posts the most ads—it’s the one who offers the most value.

PS—I’m not saying you should stop advertising. Just keep it under control.

If you’re stuck, here’s some common content types that people enjoy and even look for:

  • How-tos and tutorials
  • Buzzfeed-style lists
  • FAQ articles
  • Coupons and free trials
  • Product comparisons
  • Industry news
  • Trade secrets

Be sure to also retweet and boost others’ posts as well: Not necessarily your competition but rather those who provide even more excellent content your readers like.

Engage with your audience when they comment on posts and interact with you on social media. This will prove further that you care about their needs.

But the trick is to do all of this, offering all your insight, without sounding like an ad. My advice on this front is simply to be sincere. Your audience will come back for more and associate you as the top dog in your industry, which leads to more organic (and happy) customer relationships.

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