Welcome to the first edition of Social StoryTelling Tips!
This blog, and others to follow, will give backing and elaborate upon what I’ve been sharing as part of the “Startup Podcast”. Listen in to Episode 3 of the Podcast here where I share the information below.
Many businesses jump on the social media bandwagon for the following reasons:
1) They think it will increase their sales
2) Looking for increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
3) They feel they have to
The real reasons you should be looking to get connected with social media is to build that relationship with your customers, to engage with them and find out what they want from you. To build your business’s brand and to position yourself as an expert in your area which is super important when you want to keep your brand right at the front of someone’s mind when they have a problem that you could solve with your products/services.
Social media is not a quick fix to build your sales stream. Yes your SEO will be enhanced if you have a active presence on these platforms but you are better off finding one platform and building a good reputation and relationship with your fanbase or customers than branching out to many platforms and doing just a little sprinkling of information here and there and not really engaging in much of a conversation at all. This is the key word here, conversation!
My main point of todays post is that Social media is an awesome platform, but its called just that, “Social” its not “sales media” and its named that way for a very good reason. I was recently reading an interview with Indian Digital Entrepreneur Kiruba Shankar who said the following about peoples conception that Social Media is a great sales medium:
“When I say sales medium, imagine if a bunch of us are sitting across in a coffee shop, and suddenly a guy from an insurance company comes right in and says,‘Would you like to buy my insurance?’ That’s the equivalent of how advertisers go and advertise on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.”
Think about those delightful TV commercials where they spend their entire 15 seconds of airtime screaming at you that they are closing down, that everything must go and you should buy, buy, buy! The exact ads that my dad always put on mute because in his words they insulted his intelligence. Now on TV we’re used to being bombarded with ads and our options have always been to watch, change the channel or (gasp) turn off the tv or hit the mute button. When it comes to social media we are aware of the banner ads and paid advertising, but we don’t have these options.
An article published in the “Qualitative Research Journal” talks about why we ignore social media advertising and this is a bit of a side note, but their findings after surveying university students and other individuals was that social media was identified as a “very addictive way for people to get together to share interests on the internet.” And was particularly important for building a sense of community and had a definite impact and influence on individuals every day lives. Overall people understand that there will be advertising present on social media platforms because that’s how these businesses make money out of providing a free service. Often users simply tune out these advertisements especially if they are irrelevant to their interests. Increasingly technology is finding ways of making these ad’s more relevant which can be almost a little too invasive when you’re talking on Facebook chat to a friend whose about to have a baby and suddenly adverts for a fertility clinic pop up in your feed. Rather than the advertising becoming serendipitous its becoming personally invasive and users are more and more savvy to this direct sales in their hub for social conversation.
Now I know you aren’t necessarily reading this because you want to find out how to do better paid advertising on Facebook. But you want to know how you can effectively sell your product on social media without having your fans and audiences switch off and ignore what you have to say.
So coming back from the advertising tangent, with a bit more of an understanding of how social media users interact (or don’t!) with direct advertising its clear that businesses need to invest more time in creating a conversation and connecting with their fan base. Sure as soon as they’ve hit like on your page they’ve given you permission to post your messages on their timeline but if you are constantly screaming sales pitches at them (think back to those horrible TV ads my dad hated!) and they will do one of two things, ignore your posts or (gasp) unlike your page. Remember that when you are building your online profile its ok to promote something you’re proud of, but you are looking to share a story not sell a product. You are always looking to provide something valuable to your fans, whether this is content that you have written or interesting links that you think are relevant, or even just a cute video to brighten their day. This is social media, and it needs to be treated like you’re talking to a friend or acquaintance at a coffee shop. Focus on building the relationship and save your pitch for when they contact you directly with a question.
I love this image, because it captures what I mean about adding value and improving an experience (coffee) and not interrupting it with a sales pitch. The Unicorn adds value, gives a cool new experience and it has been accepted by the coffee drinker. Sorry I guess another tangent, but thinking back to the cafe example you need to respect social boundaries and find a way to build relationships rather than ask for money.
I’ll discuss more about how to design a conversation calendar next time, talking about how to develop a content plan to help you build your relationship with fans organically without losing too much time and energy.
‘til next time, keep sharing those stories and if you liked this one share it too!