[This is part two of an ongoing series dedicated to helping publishers understand the fundamentals of social media marketing. Here’s part one.]
Last time, we talked about the importance of giving people what they want. Meaning, the content you post to your social pages has to be genuinely interesting or useful to your audience. If it’s not, people won’t follow you and they won’t share what you post if they’re already following you. So, one of your most important tasks is to understand who your fans are (and your potential fans) and what they want. That’s not always easy to do, but you can start with an understanding of what everyone wants, and that’s surprisingly simple.
Four Universal Needs
As a brand, there are four things you can provide through social media that everyone in the world wants and needs.
In fact, you can use this list as a litmus test to determine if the content you want to publish is worthwhile. If your message focuses primarily on the consumer, not your brand, by providing one or more of these things, it’s good. Well, at least it’s not bad. If your content doesn’t give the consumer any of these things, you can almost guarantee it serves your brand’s interests more than anything else and is therefore going to be dismissed by those who see it.
In terms of social media, these universal needs – knowledge, joy, money, and friendship – translate to an obligation on your part to provide the following:
Education – – Entertainment – – Value – – Emotional Connection
Most of these needs are self-explanatory, but I want to dig deeper into that last one, ’emotional connection’. People may sign up for social networks for different reasons, but the ones who get the most out of social media and who use it every day are there to cultivate and nurture relationships. As a brand, you’ll never have the same relationship with your customers as a personal friend would, but you can build relationships nonetheless.
A powerful and increasingly common way to do this is through customer service, but any comment, Like, or reply can do the same thing. We all want to be heard, respected, and valued, and you give that to your fans by paying attention and engaging with them. When you respond to their comments or solve their problems, you’re showing genuine interest, and that has the capacity to generate brand loyalty more than most marketing campaigns.
Best Marketing Ever
As for the other three social needs, my all-time favorite example of social marketing hits all three:
At one point, Dollar Shave Club didn’t exist. Then, all of a sudden, this video hit your feed. It didn’t matter that you’d never heard of the company, and it didn’t matter that its product was only aimed at men. Everyone was sharing this video, and they were doing it because it serves a basic need. It’s “f***ing” hilarious, and that’s why people loved it and shared it so much. As a result, 48 hours is all it took for Dollar Shave Club to go from zero dollars in sales and no reputation whatsoever to over a million dollars in annual, subscription-based revenue and the appreciation of people everywhere. Producing a funny video isn’t all it takes, though. What makes this such a great marketing piece is that, while entertaining, it educates, and it does so without removing you from the experience. To top it off, the service presents a savings opportunity, completing a social needs trifecta.
Do you remember the last time you waited on hold to speak with a real person?
“We apologize for the delay. All our agents are helping other customers.”
Did the ‘apology’ mean anything to you at all?
People don’t want relationships with companies. They want relationships with other people. So, for your social media content to be effective, it also needs to be real. If sincerity is missing, it doesn’t matter what you’re putting out there because people don’t conduct business without trust. That’s why you’ll often hear the recommendation to use conversational language in social media rather than corporate-speak. Phrases like “I apologize for the inconvenience” don’t mean anything anymore. People want to believe there’s a real person on the other side of the keyboard, and that means putting a little bit of yourself in everything you do. It doesn’t mean turning your brand’s social pages into your own personal blog or posting political opinions, but you shouldn’t be afraid to share your thoughts on a subject (when appropriate) or to converse in your own voice. That’s how you build the trust you want.
Stay tuned to the PPMG Blog for more in our series of social media fundamentals, and if this is helpful to you, let us know! Also, feel free to contact our Social Media Guy, Alon Waisman, if you want to get help with your own social media efforts.