Social media as we know it in the Data Age has been around for nearly twenty years (I know, right!?). And yet successfully managing a corporation’s social media still eludes even some pretty recognizable brands. Why, after all this time, are we still in the teenage years of social media management?
In the olden days (before mainstream social media channels existed) brands had to use disruptive, when-I-want-your-opinion-I’ll-give-it-to-you methods to broadcast their message. The ruling paradigm asserted that the content in channels like print ads, radio and television commercials, or billboards ought to tell people what to do, think or feel about a brand’s product, service, etc. — no questions asked, end of story. Public responses to these channels were often slow and could be managed to some degree.
Social media turns everything upside down for that paradigm. Public response is swift and fickle. Entire marketing campaigns are susceptible to hijack. In this channel people consume (or even ignore) branded content on their own timetable rather than being interrupted.
What happens when you use the old paradigm to produce content for social media? People ignore you or walk away. So the solution to improving social media management, audience response, awareness and conversion is to abandon the old paradigm and adopt a fundamentally different approach to content creation — one that centers on what the audience values.
When you share content through social media you’re really giving it away. And when people retweet, favorite, like, re-share, repost or link they’re saying this is mine — this is something that I value personally. This showed up in my feed. So if you want people to connect with your content on that level then you need to figure out what they value. And give it to them. And let them take ownership of the conversation. Sometimes that means sharing something that may not be directly related to your product.
Everyone’s referring to the social media scene as a party these days (which doesn’t seem too inaccurate when the majority of the 100 most followed twitter profiles belong to pop stars). What we’re really talking about here is how content functions in this sphere. When an ad appears in print it’s like a message in a bottle. But your social media is live and in person. When you see someone you want to meet at a party then you find out what they like, who they are, what they do, etc. You collect this data because you want them to like you and keep talking to you. And when you see them at the next party you’ll call them by name, talk about what they like, and tell them how you read this great article related to their work. You’re conversation’s content is filled with what they value.
The old paradigm’s interruption technique where the person that screams the loudest wins doesn’t work in social media. Flooding your audience’s social media channels with too much content scares people away. You’ve got to consider not only what your audience values in your content but also how much is too much and when.
You know why there are so many cats on the internet? Because people just love cats. And that goes for every other internet cliche. So spend time creating content that delights, inspires, awes, enriches and satisfies. Create something that might last forever.