In business, we often look to social media as another venue through which to achieve our business goals. It’s a marketing goldmine – at least that’s what the experts are telling us. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are the websites and apps that the people, our potential customers, are visiting, so putting out our marketing messages on these venues makes absolute sense.
The problem with that premise is that people aren’t going to those sites to receive marketing. One can argue that the same is true for television and they would be right. Television is an extremely effective advertising platform for many despite the fact that most people don’t like seeing advertisements. The real difference is choice. On television, radio, and other venues, we have the choice to change the channel but normally we sit through and watch the marketing in between our shows because we don’t want to miss it when it comes back on. On social media, the messages are chosen. Those who are posting content that doesn’t appeal can be easily unfollowed. In the case of Facebook, they can be blocked, removed from the news feed, unfollowed, and even reported as spam.
It’s a paradox. How does a business achieve their goals on social media while maintaining a connection with the audience that prevents them from blocking us? There are several answers to this question and many different strategies that can work, but one of the easiest and most underutilized is simply posting the things that we and our audience enjoy.
In the example above, the city in which a car dealership resided had their local team playing for their playoff lives. Sunday was the day that would determine whether it was time to pack it up for the season or continue on into the playoffs. The post itself, a simple message, was put on Facebook the day before the game and promoted through Facebook ads. The results were very strong. It had over 100 likes, a handful of comments, and dozens of shares, the majority of which were done by locals to the area since the Facebook ads were extremely geo-targeted.
How will this help them sell more cars? First, it expresses the dealership’s personality. They love their local team. It’s not a marketing ploy – the owners and most of the employees are strong supporters of their football team. Second, it’s a shared love – many of their customers and potential customers are fans. These two things are great from a PR and branding perspective but they don’t answer the question of how this directly helps them sell more.
That answer is the algorithmic response. When a piece of content resonates and is widely liked and shared by the target audience, it dramatically improves the ability for the marketing messages that follow to be seen by the same people and their friends. Facebook’s and Google+’s algorithms are designed to reward businesses and individuals who post popular content with more visibility. By working in the truly likable things within a business’ market area into the overall social media mix, the marketing messages will see more exposure. One strategically placed and properly promoted “fun” or “inspiring” message followed by one or two marketing messages will have a dramatically higher reach than a flurry of marketing messages that are not set up by the fun pieces.
The easiest way to find the right content is to look inwards. What do you know? What do you like? What do you enjoy that your audience will enjoy as well? For local businesses, it’s best to stay laser focused; don’t jump on a movie’s buzz bandwagon, for example, but stay in the realm of your business’ expertise and/or the local area’s interest.
As with so many pieces of advice that I’ve been giving lately, the moral of the story is that if you “keep it real” and deliver authentic messages that resonate within you, there’s a good chance they’ll resonate with your audience as well.