If you don’t handle it right, “social media marketing” is almost an oxymoron. After all, “marketing” is about exposing people to a product you hope they will buy. “Social media” is supposed to be, well, social.
If you’ve ever experienced that awkward moment when someone offers to pay a friend for a favor, you understand that our brains are wired to separate social transactions from transactions involving money. By blurring the line between business and social, social media marketing performs a delicate balancing act – one that a lot of businesses get wrong.
How? Let’s explore with a little story.
The hero of our story is a man I’ll call Jim.
Jim was new to the neighborhood, but he was friendly and seemed nice, so before too long he had a network of acquaintances who liked him.
They were just one good pool party away from becoming fast friends.
Time wore on, though, and that pool party invite never happened.
What did happen was Jim asked Bob to help him move some furniture. He asked Patti for a ride to the store. He asked Brent to loan him a hedge trimmer.
All of which his acquaintances were happy to do.
But when they asked favors in return, Jim was always too busy to help. He ignored invitations to the neighborhood coffee klatsch. Conversations over the fence seemed to bore him. He always steered them back to something he needed.
“I mean, he seems friendly,” Patti said. The smell of fresh coffee filled her sun-drenched kitchen. She fidgeted with her coffee cup as she talked.
“Yeah, when he wants something,” Brent said as he took a sip.
“That’s just it,” Bob said. He sighed. “I thought we could hang out. But I only ever hear from him when he wants something.”
Social is a two-way street
We’ve all known a Jim. He’s That Guy.
The one who shows up with hearty hellos, beers and backslaps, but only when he needs a favor.
A lot of businesses run their social media accounts like a Jim. All their posts revolve around what they want.
Join our mailing list.
Buy our product.
Celebrate our award!
When someone follows a brand’s social media account, it’s because they like the brand. They’re identifying as a brand follower and they’re trying to engage.
In response, they’re bombarded by narcissistic posts focused only on the company.
Is social media a marketing channel? Absolutely. But first it’s a social channel.
(Did you miss it? There’s a clue right there in the name. It’s not hard.)
The right way to do social media marketing
You might be familiar with the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
Branded social media has its own 80/20 rule. To avoid coming across like That Guy, focus 80% of your posts on what your audience enjoys and 20% on asking for sales.
That’s four posts that educate or entertain for every one post that has an ask.
Your cadence might look like, “Here’s a fun fact,” “Here’s a funny video,” “Here’s some useful information,” “Here’s a cause we support,” then join our mailing list/buy our product/celebrate our award.
Social media is supposed to be a conversation, not a sales presentation. There should be some back and forth. People should feel comfortable leaving a comment.
And their comments deserve replies. Not, “Thanks for commenting, buy our product!” but real replies. That sound like a human wrote them.
Take a look at how your company engages on social media. If the “social” is missing, put it back. Go to the coffee klatsch. Make friends. Be interesting.
And when you’ve earned the right to make an ask, don’t be surprised if it’s more successful than you’re used to.
Need help auditing the messages you’re sending in your organic content? I’m your huckleberry. Send me a message and let’s chat.