In so many ways the business world used to be much simpler. Show up ready to work, put the right people around you, deliver exceptional quality, and stop to have a beer after work. Maybe this was never truly a reality, but it kinda seems like that’s how business used to work, right? Back when someone complaining to their hairstylist about shoddy service constituted a PR crisis, social media wasn’t even a twinkle in that guy from Harvard’s eye. People dealt with things one on one, face to face, or maybe over the phone- but you were never more than one step removed from the person that you were trying to communicate with. Those were the days, huh?
While this nostalgic look back seems to have plenty going for it, there are also drawbacks. If your sphere of influence is small, it is an ideal way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business and customers, but it also presents a challenge when trying to grow your business beyond that circle. This is the bridge that Social Media promised to build- To have the computer screen take the place of the bar, or the diner, or the PTA. In 2020, when so much of our world went online, Social Media marketing became the primary tool to establish digital trust, something (trust) that was very important to consumers who had fewer resources to spend and more time to investigate where and how to spend it. So, if Social Media Marketing is best used to personify your business, or to make a large corporation seem like a smaller, approachable entity, how best can you use it to market your business?
1.Focus on what you do, not who you are
A business should be using their online presence, at least when it comes to social media advertising and posting, to educate their prospects, and to keep their clients in the loop. While there are many online advertising options that require you to pay for the engagement of a user, social media is different. In most cases, someone has “opted in” to your social feed. They have entrusted you to not waste their time and attention with ads, promos, or any other attempts to get them to spend money. So, how do you make the most of this trust? INFORM them. Find industry content online and share it. Did you make the news for some breakthrough? Share it! Did your biggest competitor just break some milestone? Share that too! Content is king, and real people are much more likely to Like and Share a well-written piece of content from a reputable source than they are to be engaged with or by your ham sandwich. Establish yourself as the most informed person in your industry and your customers will have more confidence in your business. When customers are confident that they made the right choice, they become ambassadors and tell their friends. Their friends, in turn, become customers…. You get the picture. What you do, not who you are.
2.Identify a target area and a target customer
Social Media marketing has come a long way, and now offers paid advertising as a way to not only increase your reach but to target specific areas and demographics. This one is pretty short, sweet, and logical. If you are targeting football fans in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and paying to actually reach those people, you better have (at least) 2 different ad campaigns running. This is where actual common sense knowledge needs to be combined with actuarial knowledge. When you are targeting demos and areas specifically, make sure that you are not actually running and paying for ads that will alienate those who it reaches.
3.Listen up, this is important… HAVE FUN!!!!
If you have the same person writing your social media content and your ad that runs in the local funeral home’s monthly mailer, my guess is that one of those advertising avenues will severely miss the mark. It seems that news and stories of calamity, either impending or arrived, are everywhere. Social media, regular media, real news, fake news, and everything in between will let you know how awful the world is. They’ve cornered the market, let them have it. Your social media feed should be a place to share relevant and informative industry news, as well as updates with your company, and guess what? People don’t like reading and/or sharing ads, and they are much more likely (49% to 43%) to share funny content than even informative content. So, does that mean that your social media feed should resemble a comic strip? No! Just make sure that the voice has character and personality. A little snark never hurts either!
While Social Media Marketing has opened new doors to businesses, they should go back to the past for advice on how to treat this open door: As an invitation to keep people informed. And, if you tell them a great joke, they’ll probably give you credit when they tell their friends. For questions about social media marketing, feel free to reach out.