Like most of the planet, an hour rarely sneaks by where I don’t check my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or one of the other dozen or so social media networks on my mobile phone. My social feeds include family, close friends, business acquaintances, and a handful of my favorite brands.
As a marketer, I’m always curious to see what brands are posting. Owning a social media marketing agency, I’ve lived and breathed social media for the last six years and I’ve had the opportunity to analyze hundreds of company Facebook and Twitter accounts each month. The biggest faux pas that sticks out in my mind is that most brands forget to “be social.”
Imagine being at a cocktail mixer or networking event where you walk up to a dozen strangers, introduce yourself, give your elevator speech, hand out your business card and then leave the event and head home. If you took a survey of those dozen strangers, they’d probably label you as weird, socially awkward, disconnected, and even downright rude. First of all, you didn’t shake hands, ask any questions, listen for a response, or even acknowledge that the other person existed. Essentially, this scene is being repeated in the digital world by brands that don’t understand how social media works. They’ve forgotten to “be social” in social media.
The 80/20 Rule in Social Media
Social media marketing is an incredibly special tool in your marketing tool belt. As marketers, we have the chance to receive feedback directly from current and prospective customers via Facebook, Twitter, and other online social networks. The mistake that companies often make is in trying to apply traditional marketing tactics to their social media outreach that fail to engage and resonate with their communities.
Self-promotional copy pushed out in a print ad or billboard just doesn’t work in social media. For example, a restaurant’s billboard might read: “The best burgers in town. Eat at Tim’s Burgers.” This is just too advertorial and not engaging enough to yield any engagement via social media if the same message was used in their Twitter feed.
In social media, the best opportunity to engage is to find someone who has mentioned the word “burger” in a recent post or tweet. Let’s say that person tweeted: “Looking for recommendations on a great burger joint in Orlando.” Tim’s Burger’s could quickly craft a reply to this person that looks something like this: “We were recently voted best cheeseburger in Central Florida. What are your favorite condiments?” This type of message is educational, engaging, and not too sales-y – and it works!
Unfortunately, many brands have missed the mark when it comes to managing their social media accounts. If your company is using social media to promote a new product or service and every post includes a link to your website, you’re going about social media marketing the wrong way. Advertorial, self-promotional posts have a time and place but shouldn’t make up 100 percent of your messaging.
As a rule of thumb, our agency recommends using the 80/20 rule for social media messaging, where 80 percent of your posts are engaging or lifestyle-type posts versus 20 percent being self-promotional. Over time, it’s best to drive this split closer to 90/10 or even 100/0, where each post is focused on delivering value to your customers versus trying to sell them something.
Imagine being back in the middle of the cocktail party, asking open-ended questions of the other attendees, imparting some new knowledge about their industry, or simply complimenting them on their recent achievement. A similar methodology can be applied to your social media marketing to garner amazing results.
As you look to grow your business in 2015, here is a short list of great tips to help make your social accounts more social:
Listen – Search for opportunities to engage with customers who are tweeting/posting about needs or problems that you and your company can help solve.
Ask – After finding the right opportunity through “listening” it’s time to be inquisitive and ask some easy open-ended questions to solicit a response.
Engage – There are lots of reasons to initiate conversations with new and existing customers, including answering a customer service-related question, providing a compliment to something they’ve recently posted, thanking them, or just wishing them a great day.
Add Value – If you can’t find a specific reason to engage with someone in social media, find a great article that relates to their hobbies, business, or industry and share it with them.
Lucas Vandenberg is the founder and CEO of Fifty & Five, a social media marketing agency serving local, national, and global brands, with offices in Orlando and Los Angeles. Lucas can be reached @TrojanLV on Twitter or via email at LV@fiftyandfive.com