What's In It For Me?

I was checking the social web this morning for nothing and everything, when I stumbled upon a Chris Brogan Tweet that led me to the front door of Mitch Joel's blog and a recent post titled, "You Self-Serving Pig."

First off, the title grabbed me (probably because my wife and I watch Hell's Kitchen and I truly enjoy the mastery of Chef Ramsey's use of foul language).

The post is about how do we (as consumers, marketers, brand managers, community managers, etc.) develop brands/reputations when all we (consumers) want is information that is relevant to us and not self promotional?

Mitch has a great point. After all, 90 percent of what I read on the social web is someone else's opinion on a product, a post about their experience with a brand, photos from their trip to Maine, etc., etc. Mitch is right that it's all about me, me, me, me and me.

I think solving this riddle is very easy. When you are developing content -- and when I say you I mean that entire list in parenthesis above -- we are creating it with someone specific in mind. For example, this blog post is aimed at the people that follow me in the social webs -- family, co-workers, other social media minds, clients, etc. Yes, I'm rambling on and providing my opinion, but there's a reason why I'm doing it. I'm creating content that I think is relevant to my audience. Then again, I do participate in the social web (Twitter, blogging, photography, Facebook, etc.) because I think it's fun, I love technology and I like sharing my experiences with others. It gives me a certain sense of pride that I can share my experiences with people and their is some sort of value add for a single person or in some cases, hundreds or thousands of people.

In his post, Mitch links to a Mashable report linking to a study that basically says that Generation Y is Generation Me. To me, this isn't news. I have tons of family members smack dab in the middle of Generation Me. I follow them on Twitter, I'm connected with them on Facebook and 99% of their content is all about them. Every once and a while I'll come across a post that's somewhat thoughtful in terms of a current trend, news item, etc. But for the most part, it's literally all about them. However, I don't mind because I am their target audience. I'm a member of their family and for the most part, I do care about what's going on in their lives. However, would my co-workers care for example? Not a chance. They are targeting their audience without really knowing it. Brands, on the other hand, should have a keen understanding of what their audience needs are and, as a result, develop content that's relevant. It's not brain surgery. The key is knowing your audience or community inside and out.

So in the end, yes, we're all a bunch of self-promotional, 15-minute seeking, camera hogs, but we all have audiences and our content is always relevant to someone.

How do you blend self-promotion with creating content that's useful for your audiences?