People in the world of marketing and businesses trying to use social media for promotions almost always face a paradox. It’s like a Chinese finger trap – the harder you pull, the more trapped you can become. That’s the world of social media and it’s the biggest reason for failure.
In social media, the more you try to talk about your business, the less your message makes it out to anyone who might actually care. On Facebook and Google+, the algorithms make it to where self-promotion can only last for so long without hurting the quality of the page altogether. On other social sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, self-serving posts often make followers stop following. If you can’t talk about your business, what’s the point of putting your business on social media?
The truth is this: you can talk about your business… a little. To do that, you must earn the right. To earn the right, you have to talk about the things that are both relevant to your business while still holding the interest of your customers. In other words, you have to talk about them and/or the communities in which they exist online and off.
Those who do it right often take their social media marketing to the next level whether they mean to or not. You see, talking about others is one of the easiest ways to get them to talk about you. When someone else is talking about your business on social media in a positive way, it holds ten times more weight than anything you can say about yourself.
There are two important points of discussion, both of which are too long for this particular post, so we’ll touch the surface now and go more in depth in the future.
Earning the Right to Promote
This has been called many things by many people, but we’re all talking about the same basic premise. If you over-promote your business, products, or services, you’ll turn people off. They won’t see your posts because they block you, unfollow you, or report your posts as spam. By doing so, they aren’t just keeping themselves from seeing your posts on Facebook and Google+. They’re also preventing others from seeing you posts. When this happens too much, your page becomes toast. It’s burnt. It reaches nobody. It’s worthless.
Some take this premise too far and apply the extreme opposite strategy. They don’t talk about business at all. These are the people who are pushing a branding-only strategy. The idea is this: if you entertain and inform people, you can talk about anything that you or they consider “engaging”. This puts your logo and business name in front of more people. They like your business because you post great cat pictures. With this strategy, the goal is to be on of the “cool kids” on social media.
This strategy is absolutely ludicrous, though technically it’s not as bad as over-promoting your business, i.e. spamming.
I recently heard David Johnson talk about a post he put on Persuasive Concepts about it and his description was spot on. I’m not going to go into full detail here as it was a long explanation, but the basic idea is that if you bring value to your fans and followers by focusing on topics that interest them and that are important to your topic, you earn the credits necessary to cash in on promotional posts. For example, a car dealer might post car maintenance tips, customer testimonials, and pictures of cool cars most of the time while posting business-relevant posts occasionally that talk about “the big sale” or something more creative.
This is earning the right. More on that in a future post.
Talking About Others
There’s an important lesson that should be understood before I go into any details about this. Intention is easy to sniff out. Sincerity is key. If you are talking to and about people, other businesses, charities, or anything else with the intention of getting them to talk about you, people will know.
If, on the other hand, you go in with the right frame of mind and position of heart knowing that most of the people and organizations you talk about on social media won’t reciprocate but you want to do it anyway because it’s interesting and valuable to your fans and followers, you have a chance of succeeding. It’s that simple.
Take a sincere interest in the community and the lives of those within it through your social media. You live close to people. You work close to people. You’re a part of the community. Highlight the best parts of the community and the people in it. Give credit to those who do the right things. Use your business social media page to bring good things to light and to help others succeed. Do all of these things sincerely and good things will happen for your business through social media.
This, too, is a topic that needs more flesh, just not right now.
Customers and Community
Take action. Be a part of it all. Participate.
If you focus on others, you’ll be able to get out of the Chinese finger trap of social media. If you just keep pushing (or pulling) harder, you’re only going to make things worse. Sincerity is the key. It can’t be said enough.