Should You Talk Dirty To Your Customers?

September 20, 2009

Social Media Dirty TalkGetting to know potential customers is important. But just how upclose, dirty and personal are you supposed to get? And how much sharing of information is too much?

An Internet business doesn’t often have the advantage of getting to know potential customers in person. But blogs, forums and social networking sites are great places to interact with folk who might want to do business with you in the future, or recommend you to their friends.

And this type of interaction is awesome, because not only do you have the opportunity to tell them about you and your business; you are also able to get to know potential customers and discover what makes them tick.

Now, they say you can never know too much about your customers but I’m inclined to disagree. Asking a customer where she went on her last vacation is perfectly acceptable. But asking her how many sexual partners she’s had in the last year, may be just a bit too personal, unless you’re a sex therapist.

Once you begin to get to know potential customers, you usually get a feel of what’s ok to discuss and what you should leave out. And if you’re unsure about whether a particular question is alright, it probably isn’t.

As for what is acceptable to disclose about yourself – I think it depends on what you’re selling. People buy from people – and they tend to prefer to buy from people like them. They want to know that you understand them and their particular situation or problem. And even if you’re not exactly like them – they want to know you can empathise with them.

For example, I write about business and life here on this blog. That can cover a lot of topics but one thing I’ve always tried to do on here is share my mistakes. Nobody wants some clever shite perfectionist preaching to them and if they do, they won’t find one here.

Recently, I wrote that I suffered from severe depression. I wanted to share because I know it’s something that affects many of my readers. If I blogged about gardening or weightlifting, I probably wouldn’t have written about it at all.

Some people say that you shouldn’t give much personal information away to your customers. And even on your blog, a simple photo and brief paragraph about yourself will suffice. But I’m inclined to disagree.

People buy from people they know and remember. For example, I’m not great with WordPress. And if something goes drastically wrong, I will be stuck. But I know that I won’t need to Google for help. I’ll simply email Kim Woodbridge.

I know Kim knows her stuff about WordPress – she writes about wordpress tips and tricks on her blog. But I don’t just read Kim’s blog – she reads my blogs and my friends blogs and I’ve interacted with her on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

And because of that, Kim isn’t just a picture and a paragraph on her blog. I know she likes British football – especially Aston Villa, she’s divorced and she has a daughter. She also went on holiday to Vermont this year and she recently gave up her job to go freelance.

I don’t think I’m the only one who would use a service provider I’d got to know on the Internet, instead of choosing someone from a picture and a brief paragraph. Wouldn’t you do the same too?

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that folk will use and recommend businesses they’ve got to know, through social networking and blogging. People have been doing the same thing for years offline.

What about you, would you, or have you used the services of a business you’ve got to know through blogging or social networking? Do you think it’s important to share information with your customers, in order to get to know them?

Related Reading

Do You Give A Toss If You Offend People?
What Your Customers Really Want
Sleazy Sales & Why Your Neighbours Make You Poor
Dead Hamsters & Other Customer Service Issues

Image Credits

Social Media Dirty Talk by jeffisageek

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32 Responses to “Should You Talk Dirty To Your Customers?”

  1. Davina on September 20th, 2009 6:16 am

    Hi Cath. First off, I LMAO at the image/notation you chose. Woo hoo, this is the Cath I know and love :-) Brilliant! Wish I’d written it. Is it a t-shirt? I’d buy one AND I’d wear it too.

    I would definitely be swayed to use the services of someone I’d gotten to know more through blogging or social networking. Absolutely. But having said that, the rapport/relationship wouldn’t happen overnight either. I think it would take longer to build the trust connecting online as opposed to meeting in person. Your example of Kim’s blogging support is a good one though for online marketing because her blog is a working example of her expertise.

    Davina’s last blog post..The Thyme of My Life

  2. Lance on September 20th, 2009 10:40 am

    Hi Cath,
    Love the title!!

    Have I used the services of people I’ve met online? Yes, I have. And what makes me use them, is that I do feel like I know them. They’re not just a faceless picture in the crowd. They have become someone I trust because they’ve opened up and shared. Even if (or maybe really especially if) they’ve shared the not-so-perfect parts of their lives. Because, no one is perfect, and there’s something about others sharing this – that makes a stronger connection for me.

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  3. Lin on September 20th, 2009 2:13 pm

    Cath, that title really got my attention, ha!

    I most definitely use services from businesses I’ve “met” online. I don’t know the back-end stuff of WordPress either, other than writing posts and linking etc, and I have a knowledgeable and experienced WordPress/server host guy I know online who handles all of that for me. I am positive I’d break my blog permanently if I tried to do all the things he does on my blog, and the time and headache just isn’t worth trying to figure it all out on my own (yet).

    I’ve also used the services of someone I know online to create header images for blogs, and I even have an online friend who I purchase my Mia Bella candles from. It requires building more personal “relationships” online and building the trust factor, and recommendations and referrals from others who have worked with them does a lot to establish trust. I don’t give my money to just anyone – there must be trust, and that takes time and effort.

    Lin’s last blog post..Most Popular Christmas Toys 2009-Hot New Toys For Kids Christmas

  4. natural on September 20th, 2009 3:17 pm

    never really thought about it too much, but you make a great point. it’s nice knowing a little something personal, but not too much, about your customers or the person. they seem like real people. i share more about me than i do my family. they are a funny people who don’t want to be on the web.

    natural’s last blog post..Herstory In the Making

  5. Erica Douglass on September 20th, 2009 3:50 pm

    It’s true that a relationship is important…but I’d say the picture and bio paragraph help to build that relationship.

    The WordPress instance you refer to is someone who has defined herself as an authority in her niche. It takes a lot of consistent blog posts to get there. Adding a bio picture, about page, bio text, ebooks and videos can help you build authority faster. (Posting videos of yourself where people can actually see your face is huge!)


    Erica Douglass’s last blog post..To Free or Not to Free?

  6. Brad Shorr on September 20th, 2009 4:35 pm

    Cath, Yes, I think it’s helpful to know something about people you do business with. As to what constitutes too much information, that’s going to vary from person to person. I like to take relationships slow and steady: I don’t feel the need to know everything about a person to start a business relationship, and I assume they feel likewise.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..HootSuite Is a Sweet Twitter Client

  7. cathlawson on September 20th, 2009 9:23 pm

    Thanks Davina – I’m starting to get there I think. I don’t think it’s from a t-shirt but it would make a good one.

    That’s a good point re – what Kim does & her blog being a working example of showing off her expertise. It’s not something that every type of business could pull off I guess.

    Hi Lance – I know what you mean. When people show their imperfections it definitely makes them seem more real.

    Hi Lin – it definitely takes time to build trust – and it’s so worth taking the time to get long term customers, instead of one off jobs.

    LOL Valerie – Thinking about some of the things you write, I don’t think I would want you putting me on the web if I was related to you either. I’m still laughing about your bad hair video.

    Hi Erica – I’ve seen a few impressive videos and I read on Facebook that you’re making one. You’re very brave – it’s something I’d like to try eventually. I’m keen to see how yours goes.

    Hi Brad – It definitely does – some people are going to be far more comfortable sharing more. I guessed that you wouldn’t be an early sharer. As they say – I customer is for life – not just for christmas.

  8. John Hoff - WP Blog Host on September 21st, 2009 1:30 am

    Hi Cath. I know you’re probably tired of hearing it, but I’m sorry to hear about your bouts with depression. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I too had some bouts with depression in my early 20s. It really sucked but luckily I met a woman who pulled me out of it.

    As per your article, I would much rather get to know the people/business on a more personal level and build a relationship with them. I tell ya, my best and most returning customers are the ones I’ve gotten to know and email more often than others.

  9. Cath Lawson on September 21st, 2009 1:46 am

    Hi John – Thanks. I’m beginning to feel much better now, with these new pills. In all honesty though it’s my own fault. I have had PTSD since I was in my twenties and depression is a major symptom. I was doing great on the pills I was on, then in autumn 2003, I forgot to take them for a few days.

    I should have began taking them straight away – but I was worried that the side effects would stop me from working for a few days.

    My decline since then has been gradual but I began self medicating with alcohol and painkillers as early as 2005. It has taken me over 4 years of denial, gradually getting worse and trying to find alternatives to medication. So, it’s really my own fault that I got so ill by the beginning of this year.

    Did you need to take medication for your depression, or has it not come back since? You are so lucky if you’ve managed to keep it at bay without drugs.

    Your way of doing business is smart. I felt so badly let down by Bluehost and your hosting company was a godsend to me. And because I knew you – I knew I could trust you. I’m just so grateful that you took me on before you’d officially begun trading. Thank you.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Is Your Name Letting You Down?

  10. Kim Woodbridge on September 21st, 2009 1:51 am

    Oh gosh … it’s so funny that I read this tonight because my article tomorrow is about the crazy things that have happened to me since I started dating again a couple of weeks ago. Is it too much information? Maybe for some people. Is it funny? Absolutely. And it’s what has been going on lately … I wouldn’t be able to intelligently write a WordPress tutorial right now – lol

    But now I’m questioning the article a little …

    Thanks so much though :-)

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..(Anti) Social-Lists 9/20/09

  11. cathlawson on September 21st, 2009 1:58 am

    Hi Kim – You are welcome. I’m glad you’re writing about this. I noticed you said on Facebook that you’d actually had a normal date for a change, so I’m keen to hear about it. And I know I won’t be the only one. At the end of the day – a girl’s gotta write what a girl’s got to write.

  12. Walter on September 21st, 2009 2:39 am

    It is a matter of personal choice if we are to share information to other people. Actually, it is a matter of personality. Building trust is important if we are making a connection with others. The more open you are about your self, the more people will see you as a human being, and the more they are inclined to trust you. :-)

    Walter’s last blog post..How to unleash your true capacity

  13. vered - blogger for hire on September 21st, 2009 2:53 am

    I’ve used the services of Kim :) so yes, I do use the services of people I meet online.

    I think you should share as much or as little as you’re comfortable sharing. To me that means sharing relatively little, but it doesn’t mean this is the right approach for everyone.

    vered – blogger for hire’s last blog post..Patrick Swayze Can Finally Rest in Peace

  14. Todd Morris on September 21st, 2009 2:53 am

    Hi Cath,

    There is definitely a benefit to being yourself, and getting to know people. Over the past couple of years, I’ve bought quite a bit of stuff online. Thinking back, almost every single purchase was from someone I already knew … I was never even tempted to click on some flashing banner ad or long sales page on a stranger’s blog or website.

    On the flip side, as someone who also sells stuff; again the benefits of getting to know people makes life so much easier. Folks who already know, like and trust me, usually don’t need a whole heck of a lot of additional convincing should they happen to discover that I’m marketing a product/service that they might want or need.

    lol, it’s a good thing too, cause I’m a horrible salesman … I’d have no extra money, if I had to convince people to buy from me :-D

    Keep havin FuN!

    Todd Morris’s last blog post..A Dream Board In Your Pocket

  15. Marelisa on September 21st, 2009 4:22 am

    Hi Cath: I found the person whom I hired to design the cover page for my creativity ebook through the blogosphere. And I think he did a great job. It’s good to know about the human being behind the blog. I think you’re more inclined to do business with someone you like, and how can you like someone if you know nothing about them?

    Marelisa’s last blog post..24 Productivity Tips From the Best Productivity Blogs

  16. Barbara Swafford on September 21st, 2009 7:20 am

    Hi Catherine,

    After blogging for all this time, I feel I know more about my blogging buddies than I know about some of the people I deal with in real life, so yes, I would definitely trust those I know online to go a great job.

    One thing I also notice is other bloggers become our evangelists. When someone helps us, makes our life easier, or inspires a story, we link to them and shower them with kudos. The reach of blogoshpere is so huge, that’s even better than SEO.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Write Responsibly Right From The Start

  17. Robin on September 21st, 2009 8:48 am

    Hi there Cath – I know I would much more likely do business with someone I’ve got to know – including online. I’ve has 2 Reconnction healing sessions with Jenny Mannion – I coud have gone to someone here in Melbourne. And if I needed technical website help, it goes without saying I would approach an online buddy.

    Robin’s last blog post..When Someone Close To Us Is Struggling

  18. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on September 21st, 2009 9:19 am

    I definitely first contact my blogging friends when in need; that’s one of the great benefits of being part of a community that gives back.

    It’s something I’ve been preaching now since I started training folks online and in real-life seminars – what goes around, comes around. Give freely but NOT stupidly (referring to the excellent Men with Pens post about communities that are comprised of GIVE GIVE GIVE with no SHARE SHARE SHARE SHARE)

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Today’s Humor – Harness the power of 400 babies!

  19. Dot on September 21st, 2009 2:59 pm

    I definitely prefer to work with someone I know or know about, and would choose them even over someone I don’t know who might be better. it’s a trust thing.

    “…some clever shite perfectionist …” LMAO! I think that will be my new tagline.! ;-)

    Dot’s last blog post..Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  20. John Hoff - WP Blog Host on September 21st, 2009 3:02 pm

    Hi Cath. I suppose I was lucky that I didn’t need medication, but I often wanted to talk with someone but didn’t really have anyone I felt I could talk to or pay for to talk to.

    I suppose probably one of the best things I did was stay away from things like drugs and alcohol, which I’m sure in hindsight you’re probably like, “what was I doing?”

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. You have a great community of supporters over here. That is so awesome. And thanks for the nice words about me – I’m always here to help, especially our customers.

  21. cathlawson on September 21st, 2009 3:33 pm

    Hi Walter – That is true and I guess different people will share different types of things. But being open definitely helps build trust.

    Hi Vered – I know you don’t share intimate details but I think you share enough for people to get to know you and trust you.

    We know how you feel about the way magazines and advertising influences women and that says a lot about you as a person. And we also know a lot about things you like doing.

    I think you share a lot more than you realise – but that’s probably because it’s stuff that you feel comfortable sharing.

    Hi Todd – Sales pages and traditional ads seem to be dying a death. And banner ads generally tend to get low click through rates.

    I notice many bloggers are using alternatives to banner ads now that look more like personal recommendations – Perez Hilton and Deuce are good examples.

    Hi Marelisa – I think he did a good job too. As you say, it’s impossible to get to know someone if you know nothing about them.

    Hi Barbara – That is so true – it is far faster to spread the word through social networking than through SEO. I think that is something a lot of Twitter users don’t get – you know the ones who are trying to sell everyone all the time.

    Not everyone wants to buy from us but if you connect with plenty of people and get to know them – they tell plenty of people about you.

    Hi Robin – that is interesting that you chose to have distance sessions with Jenny, as opposed to face to face sessions with somebody local – because you know her.

    Just goes to show that even if we do provide a local service, our competition is still becoming global.

    Hi John – You are welcome – you provide an awesome service.

    I think there is a lot to be said for getting help and someone to talk to fairly early on. Doing that could be what saved you from needing medication. I moved to the other end of the country when I first became ill and I felt v isolated.

    The reason some of us wind up needing medication after years and years is because we wind up with low levels of serotonin and what we have fails to reach the parts of our brain that need it. Nobody seems to know why – it sucks.

    Yes I do regret using the alcohol. I didn’t use it for the first decade, so I don’t know why I suddenly decided it was a good idea. And it definitely doesn’t make you feel better, because it’s a depressant.

  22. cathlawson on September 21st, 2009 8:26 pm

    Hi Dot – Sorry – it looks like it was your turn to get picked on by Askimet. That would be a fab tagline.

    I too would be inclined to use someone I know, over someone who was well known as a pro in their field.

    Sometimes, when folk are really well known, for doing what they do, I worry that they won’t put in the necessary time and effort required, or palm your work off onto a junior member of staff.

  23. Melissa Donovan on September 21st, 2009 10:52 pm

    Well, I can’t imagine asking a client about his or her sex life! That would be decidedly out of line in almost every case. Then again, I try to refrain from getting too personal on my blog or even on social media sites. There are times when I wish my online life wasn’t tied to my profession, so that I could openly discuss topics of a personal nature (religion, politics, etc.). Hmm…

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Where to Get Writing Help

  24. Paul Hancox, copySnips on September 21st, 2009 11:06 pm

    Great headline… you had me clickin’. I’ve built up some great personal relationships online even though I don’t know a LOT about the other person.

    I don’t think relationships are based just on the QUANTITY of information you have about that person, but on the QUALITY of the information.

    Not that I’d apply that necessarily in my love life, though :)

    Paul Hancox, copySnips’s last blog post..How To Tell The Perfect Story

  25. Cath Lawson on September 22nd, 2009 10:00 am

    Hi Melissa – I can’t think of too many people you could ask that kind of question either. Maybe if you’re ghost writing an auto-biography for a rock star or something.

    I’m guessing most of us have to try to censor ourselves on social networking sites to a certain point. I must admit – I often ask myself who might be reading something before I put it on there. It’s difficult.

    I know on Twitter you can set up more than one account – maybe you need a personal one and a business one – but then, getting time to use them both would be a problem.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Should You Talk Dirty To Your Customers?

  26. Chris Peterson on September 22nd, 2009 10:01 am

    I think personalization is essential but the extent of it depends on your concepts of intimacy & inner depth. it’s individual thing according to me. But definitely, it is an important decision blogger would have to make just while starting blog. Its good you brought the topic up so most of readers of your blog can take this decision wisely & beneficially.

  27. cathlawson on September 22nd, 2009 10:08 am

    Hi Paul – I guess quality of information is important. Knowing stuff about a potential customers likes and dislikes would probably be better quality information than knowing their clothes size – unless you’re a clothing designer.

    Hi Chris – That is very true – considering these things right at the start is useful. Trouble is, most of us forget to do it.

    When you start blogging – nobody is reading – trouble is, you continue to assume nobody is reading for a long time and often, your writing would be different if you assumed you had an audience.

    Also, it is very easy to forget that you have a wider audience outside of the folk who comment. I still make that error now sometimes.

  28. Jannie Funster on September 22nd, 2009 6:52 pm

    I think that people relate to REAL and sharing your depression or other concerns makes you a whole lot more human.

    Then, if they don’t want you – they can go bugger off.

    After all, business is making connections. And maybe you will get a whole slew of new clients because you are real and not some nebulous machine.

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..46 Blogging Observations So Far

  29. cathlawson on September 24th, 2009 4:11 am

    LOL Jannie – “Then, if they don’t want you – they can go bugger off. ” Exactly – what’s the point in having customers who don’t like you as you are, when there’s plenty out there who do.

  30. Patricia on September 24th, 2009 4:26 am

    Supporting people you trust is all important to me and trying to work local – I consider the blogging community part of my local community.

    I like touching base, but you are right there are just some things that are none of my business about anyone, but certainly not someone I am doing business with or partnering.

    I wish I had the funds to get some more specific help, and am hoping that someday I will. Kim has given me some great suggestions, and so have you.

    Blogger Dad has really helped me market my husband’s blog and has written several articles when my husband would not figure out what I was doing.

    I am writing very personally about healing right now – I think it will inspire others – hoping….which is my niche – inspiration.

    Oh a grand post and I thank you for sharing so clearly and glad I got past the error message and here to read :)

    Patricia’s last blog post..DIY* Healthcare Plan: Skin Care

  31. cathlawson on September 24th, 2009 1:20 pm

    LOL Patricia – I fixed it last night right after I posted about the hack. It was easier than I’d anticipated.

    I think writing personally definitely inspires others in the same position and gives them hope and I’m glad you’re doing it.

    Re – getting more specific help – you read a lot, so don’t pay a fortune for something you could get from a book. I know I mentioned a while ago, I was writing a free ebook which would benefit you and I got delayed with being ill.

    Well, I’m going to finish it soon – so hopefully it will help. I may need to start again though – the laptop it was on broke on me last week – hopefully it is fixable as I have so much on there :)

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