As more people flock to social media sites every day, a roadblock is developing that is obstructing a company’s ability to achieve their goals: people on social media are there to enjoy and share, not for your business message. They may understand based upon their experience with television, print, and radio that advertising is a necessary part of the delivery of traditional media entertainment, but they are not ready to accept “a word from our sponsors” as readily in social media as they are elsewhere.
Advertising and marketing are different. The banner ads that you know are there go unnoticed by the masses. People don’t see ads, but in many cases they accept them because they know that these ads help websites stay afloat and pay their bills. Marketing on social media involves messaging and entering into the general conversation. If you message is all about marketing, then your audience will be slim.
Scratch the word “marketing” from your social media vocabulary and mindset and you will be more successful at achieving your marketing goals than you could ever imagine.
Fans, Followers, and Subscribers
If a tree falls in and forest and nobody is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? If you send a Tweet and nobody is following you, did you really tweet at all?
The first and biggest reason to take “marketing” out of your social media vocabulary is that you will not be able to grow (and in many cases, you will shrink) if your messages are geared around the marketing mindset. Building a following is about being interesting. It’s about giving people a reason to follow you. If they wanted marketing messages, they would just go to your website.
They want to get something from you that they do not get elsewhere.
Converse with people. Talk to them about them. Offer value and resources that only you can offer well and do so in a way that is not touting your own expertise.
Beyond the arbitrary decisions that people make about you and that you make about your message, there is an algorithmic reason to remove “marketing” from your mindset. Social media sites (Facebook in particular but most of them to some extent) have an algorithm that helps determine how much exposure your messages receive.
The more that people like what you’re saying, the more exposure you and your messages will receive. As a result, it’s important that you try to be as interesting and informative as possible. The marketing will come (below) but first you must think outside of marketing to make your converting messages work.
There are different formulas that you can use, but one that is easiest to apply is the 3 to 1 rule. On Facebook or Twitter, post 3 conversational, interesting updates to your page that have no purpose other than to create engagement. They can be questions, interesting links (not to your site), or general statements. Once you have 3 conversational pieces, go for a converting message. It should still be interesting, but its goal is to convert in some way.
Converting can be to get people to click through to your website, to know about an event coming up, or to perform a task such as answer a question about your business.
The algorithm exposes messages based upon your history, particularly your recent history. If you create conversational content that people like and/or comment on, the exposure of these messages will go up (and hopefully create more engagement as a result). The default view on the Facebook News Feed is “Top News” which is presented to users in order of relevance, their history, and the engagement that their friends are having. The more engagement, the higher and longer the updates will appear on their News Feed.
This carries over. In other words, by creating engagement on 3 messages, that 4th message (the converting message) will also be exposed well.
By thinking about marketing and only posting what is relevant to advancing your business, you will actually get less exposure to your messages. Fewer people (if any) will like your updates and as a result your updates will not be seen by nearly as many people. The effects are dramatic – in many cases we’ve seen, exposure to any given message can increase over ten-fold based upon being interesting and engaging most of the time.
Marketing Without Marketing
It takes a certain level of creativity to truly take advantage of a mindset that doesn’t include marketing. It isn’t that we don’t want to use social media as a marketing tool. It’s that we want the marketing tool to be effective. If all you’re doing is using it as a broadcasting tool for your marketing messages, you will not get enough engagement to make those messages visible to many.
Remove the mindset. Remove the word “marketing” from your vocabulary. If you approach social media from these perspectives, you will begin to naturally expose your brand and marketing messages much more effectively:
- Entertain – While many would like to avoid this aspect, it’s the easiest way to get engagement. This doesn’t mean that you have to post funny cat videos every day. It means that in some of your status updates, your goal should be to make people laugh or smile. People like to laugh and smile and will like the messages that make them do it.
- Inform – You’re an expert at something. If you weren’t you probably wouldn’t be running a business. Use this knowledge to help people learn about what you know. A Realtor could post about things to look for in a house that usually gets missed until after they buy. A car dealership could post tips about getting better gas mileage. A blog can discuss their niche without having it attached to a blog post link.
- Opine – One of the things that many businesses, particular local businesses, avoid is expressing opinions about local or relevant issues. Despite the inferred risk, having polarizing opinions can lead to a much more robust level of engagement. People may agree or disagree with what you say, but if they comment, they’re helping to expose your updates.
- Let Loose – We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: look at Skittles. Yes, it’s entertaining, but it’s also more. It’s unique. It’s well-thought out. They have created a personality so offbeat that people tell their friends that HAVE to follow them. Everything they post gets mad exposure.
Social media is not hard. Marketing on it is, but only when you don’t have the right mindset. If you start by taking marketing out of the mix, you’ll be able to improve your marketing results.