Giving people what they want

How do I start a social media marketing campaign?

And they don’t want this…

One of our first learnings on entering the new world of social media was that you have to be given permission to sell to people and that that permission can be earned by giving them what they want. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The trick is figuring out what your audience wants (and not simply dressing up your sales offer in a different package).

New companies launching themselves on social media normally find out fairly quickly that a constant stream of product news and promotional messages doesn’t help grow an engaged online brand following. In fact, it can act as a deterrent for people to follow your story in the first place and a reason for customers to unfollow you or mute your content stream. 51 percent of consumers in a recent Sprout Social survey said that they would unfollow a brand that annoyed them (and 23% would vow never to buy from that brand again).

Many of the people that are likely to follow your brand on social media, sign-up for email updates or accept your website’s push notifications are customers that perhaps not yet ready to buy, customers who have already bought, or influencers that are probably never going to buy directly from you anyway. So, instead of adopting a strategy of throwing everything at them until something sticks, consider the following:

News and information sharing – Sharing the latest news is low-hanging fruit, so the test needs to be: is it easier for your audiences to use your brand as a source of this news than getting it elsewhere? Lots of brands share news from the media via their social media channels, but very few create a content stream that can’t easily be found anywhere else.

Events in your customer’s journey – For example, there are many known inflection points that precede and follow buying a new car, booking a restaurant or purchasing a luxury item. Regardless of whether the conversation is about your brand or not, your brand can use these inflection points to be part of the conversation.

Thought-leadership – Does your brand have views, expertise or experience that don’t make you money, but nevertheless support your proposition? People may be interested to hear what your experts have to say and it doesn’t have to be product or service related: it could be manufacturing, customer service, HR, marketing, social responsibility or even IT.

Your customers’ stories – Traditionally, the bane of PR and marketing teams around the world, customer testimonials are like gold and can be just as difficult to extract. However, social media platforms, video platforms and other digital channels have lowered the bar for content requirements, meaning that customer stories can include as much or as little detail as is available and still provide value to your followers.

Research and insights – As with customer stories, the Internet has also lowered the bar for research results: they can be as anecdotal as a tweet or as formal as a PDF report.

Insider news – Do you have fanatical customers that seek out everything that they can about your products? Or tight-lipped competitors who refuse to divulge their processes? Sometimes updates written in the ‘first person’ and giving an insider’s perspective create the most compelling stories.

Some companies fret about the value of engagement that can’t directly be attributed to a specific brand conversation or product. However, few brands are in the position where their followers are likely to be interested in every promotional message, all of the time. For the rest of us, our content platforms need to be built a little wider.

Looking for content strategy ideas that work for your brand? Ask me at:

Read more about content

Plenty of content marketing opportunity for Middle East brands (March 2014)

Could your brand commit a content crime? (November 2013)

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)


Carrington Malin

About the Author ()

Carrington Malin is co-founder of Spot On and has been managing sales, marketing, media and communications campaigns across the Middle East for more than 20 years. He likes technology, surfing and chicken liver salad. You can contact Carrington via Twitter at @carringtonmalin or via his website

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