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I Built It But…They Didn’t Come!

Brad Smith of Social Media Today discusses the dilemma of corporate social media accounts – they don’t spread like wildfire. So they try posting more frequently, or using the latest tactic, and still, the results don’t come.

3 Reasons Your Content Isn’t Being Shared

According to Brad, they need to revisit their social media strategy for the reasons no one shares their content. Consider these 3 reasons:

1: It Isn’t “Shareable”

Brad puts it succinctly: “Nothing kills social media activity faster than a sales pitch.” Of course, you have to sell with social media at some pointm and this raises a key question that I have explored in this blog: how to turn social media into conversion opportunities.  Since you can’t pressure the consumer to buy, but you also can’t just sit around and hope for the best, what can you do to better control the situation?

Brad’s corrective strategy: Create “shareable content” to promote. Give every social media update an interesting hook that grabs attention interests your customers. “Shareable content” has to meet the following criteria:

  • Useful: It needs to offer some utility or benefit.
  • “Evergreen” or Timeless: Chasing new stories or limited content that won’t be relevant for a long period will have diminishing returns.
  • Branded: Make your offering unique to stand out and be memorable
  • Promotable: The content needs to be 1. simple (but not dumbed down) and focused so it’s easy to understand, engages, and begs to be shared.

If content is interesting enough to spread it will be because people are spreading the story first. Then after getting attention and interest, the company can be introduced.

Financial Services Applications: It’s hard to get people to engage with you or share your content in “aggressive industries like insurance, real estate or other financial services.” So you need to change the positioning from products to match the worldview of your consumers – promote their lifestyles. The focus should be on what people care enough about to want to protect or build: family and career, lifestyle and the sense of social purpose that underlies money. In the crowded auto insurance field, Progressive promotes the ease of the online experience in which you can compare prices.

2: There’s No Core Benefit

The use of incentives remains one of the best ways to get engagement and participation, as well as sharing. Brad’s corrective strategy: “Focus on your customers pain points, and position your content, social media updates and products/services as the solution.”

Ask the question: “Why should someone interact with you in the first place?” Brad suggests that the need for relief drives engagement.

Take humor: it’s a release of pent-up tension. An interesting angle that benefits the audience can offer them relief from a problem that’s on their minds.

Best Practice: PayScale helps job candidates, employees, job seekers, and employers (HR) to compare their salaries across job titles, industries and locations. What’s the benefit: sought after information, research and insight to business professionals and hiring managers. So PayScale analyzed their data and created an infographic about how employers are using and managing social media for their employees, and contracted with  Mashable to publish it. The results:

  • 2,900 Tweets
  • 999 Likes
  • 1,700 LinkedIn shares
  • And 901 Pins

3: There’s No Bold Positioning or Value Proposition

To stand out – and be remembered – in a crowded field in a crowded medium, you obviously need to be seen as unique, interesting or different.Approaches that seldom work are ones that focus on product attributes, rather than consumer beliefs and values. For instance, everyone claims to be:

  • low-cost” (someone will eventually undersell you.)
  • “better” (someone will always be better than you at some specific aspect.

Worst Practices: For instance, Dunkin’ Donuts recently baffled the advertising world by offering the 19th century strategy of filing to register the phrase“Best Coffee In America” as their trademark, which, according to Huff Post, is so old that it’s “hardly worth more than a lukewarm cup of coffee.” In the past, the Patent and Trademark Office has sometimes declined to grant registered trademarks for such superlative phrases, and, in financial services, it would be a compliance non-starter.  When the Boston Beer Company sought to claim the phrase “Best Beer in America,” the office said the wording was too generic for any one company to own as a trademark. In 2006, Walmart tried unsuccessfully to trademark the smiley face, claiming that the image had become associated with its stores in the retail sector. Taglines or slogans are only a small component of a value proposition. As Brad puts it: “Stand for something.” Best Practice: Stone Brewery, Southern California’s largest brewery, and one of the biggest craft brewers in the country, announced in 2011  an expansion plan that includes a 18.7 acre organic farm so they can use the best ingredients in their beer and restaurants, and a possible tourist hotel because their brewery is one of the largest tourist attractions in San Diego. These are consistent with a strong stand that they have taken:

They’re unabashedly against light, tasteless lagers (and the people who drink them).  And as the scrappy up-start, they’re the complete opposite of the large, stuffy corporations in the industries.

The label on one of their most popular beers, Arrogant Bastard, warns:

Their social media updates are consistent with this: “witty, interesting, and slightly arrogant in a funny-sarcastic way.” So Stone’s social media are an extension of their originality and bold positioning – an extension of their brand.

Conclusions:

If your social media accounts are not an extension of your brand, you’ll lack engagement for a glaringly obvious reason: because people don’t care enough about you:

Even if you’re never heard of Stone Brewery before (and whether you agree or disagree with their philosophy), you already have an opinion. And that’s the first step to getting people to talk about you. Or interacting and engaging with you in social media.

In summary, make your content shareable, beneficial, and bold.

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