Let’s start with the obvious. It’s not when and where to post? These are important questions, truly, but they are ancillary to what is most important. If you don’t first answer these three questions, then all of your perfect posts, at all the perfect times, will land on blind eyes and deaf ears. The success of your strategy comes down these things; your company’s most important social media considerations: Who are your customers? Where are they hanging out?, and What do they need right now?
Who is your customer?
The golden funnel in business leads to one happy ending: a customer [Read: Money.] Finding that customer is the nut marketing has sought to crack since Neanderthals sold stones to Homo-Sapiens. [Pretty sure I just made that up.]
This should be easy, right? After all, you know your customer. He comes in all the time. You just need legions of him. But then sometimes his wife comes in. And there’s that other guy who’s so different. Alright, so maybe your customer could be many different people. Maybe it will be easier to figure out who he or she is by determining where they hang out.
Where are your customers hanging out?
Let’s build our answer on the following presumption. Fans of reading aren’t all coffee drinkers, but people who enjoy coffee often apt to read. Not 100% of the time, but I stand a pretty good chance of finding a few book-lovers at the local Starbucks.
Along this logic-line, carpenters hang out at the mill, actors spend their time in theatres, and lawyers chase ambulances. What is the proverbial ambulance your customers will chase? With Social Media, we’re not looking for a physical location. Where are they online? Who are they already following?
We will find your customers following existing trade magazines, business partners, or even behind enemy lines. From there we can start trying to get their attention with hashtags, posts they would dig, and in some cases we can just follow them. If they dig your thang, then they’ll follow back, usually at a rate of 10-40%.
Getting them to dig your thang is not likely going to be with product shots. We need those, but more importantly, we need to figure out what they really need. It’s not enough to tell people you have cars for sale. If you’ve branded correctly, as in Mike’s Used Cars, they already know.
People want to know how buying a car on your lot will be the experience they’re looking for. And the answer isn’t telling them that you’re the best in town, or that you sell the most. In Social Media, that’s the fastest way to tell your potential customer to unfollow, and block you. It’s not how you get them to your party.
That’s how you should think about your social media channels, as little social gatherings. What are you serving for hors devours? Bad appetizers can quickly destroy a party.
What do they need right now?
So what are the best companies doing for their followers? Here are a few examples from Loud Door’s August 2014 Study of the most powerful brands in social media:
- Costco (1.2 million fans): Deals on items consumers need.
- Ziploc (1.5 million fans): Holiday recipes like cakes encrusted with peppermint sticks crushed in Ziploc bags? Crafts and holiday decorations stored in . . . you guessed it . . . Ziploc containers.
- St. Jude Children’s Hospital (1.7 million fans): Photos of children getting better.
- Medela (247,000 fans): Baby photos and information to support breastfeeding.
- Tide (over 4 million Facebook fans): Featuring the Scott twins, also known as the Property Brothers. Focused on clothes that can get really dirty like military, janitorial, construction and firefighting uniforms.
- Reese’s Candy Company (12 million fans): Interesting desserts incorporating Reese’s products. Peanut information.
Notice a pattern? It’s beautiful like peanut butter and chocolate. There is a meeting point of providing followers what they need, without giving away the store, and always leading them back to your product.If it’s really something they need, then you won’t have to sell them.
When the followers of St Jude’s talk to someone in the real world who needs a doctor, they say “The people at St Jude’s really seem to care.” When the followers of Medela talk to expecting mothers, they ask if they follow Medela? Why? Because they are the first thing that comes to mind. Your followers will go out and sell your brand for you.
So what is it? What do they need right now, and how can you give it to them? How do you find out? Maybe you know. This comes down to understanding where your product falls, in the needs, or the desire category.
Let’s not split too many hairs on what exactly is a need versus what is considered a desire. For arguments sake, if it’s a need, as is the case with Costco’s products, then maybe all they need is to know what you have on sale. If it’s a desire, like Reese’s, then maybe all they need is an excuse to indulge.
Every product is going to offer a slightly different opportunity to close this gap. Doing this well is the artistry of social media. Mastery of that starts and ends with how well you answer the three questions.
Still stuck? We would be happy to look over your social media channels for free, and tell you what you could do to improve your strategy. We’re here when you need us.