Put Some Social in your Social Media

While creating your own Social Media (or...ugh...outsourcing it), is the most common way to get content out there, I explore some ways you can generate "earned" media from your fans and engaged customers.

Give some thought to your social media campaign. Is it working? Sure, you may have “likes,” and “retweets” and “favorites,” but is your social media strategy measurably generating sales? Or perhaps it’s generating a boatload of reports and metrics you never considered 5 years ago (and yet your business somehow managed to hum along quite nicely). Given the millions that are invested each year into technology to measure social media, there’s a lot of vested interest in, let’s be frank about this, smoke and mirrors that can distract from the tangible needs of the business. If you find that people are telling you your social media is working, but it’s not generating sales, it’s time to re-evaluate. The points below might help:

Problem: You Create All Your Media

If all of your social media content comes from “over there,” (by which I mean a department in your organization, or your agency), then it may not do a lot for your sales funnel. In fact, without a strategy to drive interaction, this common approach is little more than old school advertising using new technology. The only difference is that the message appears on a computer screen instead of a billboard. Sure it’s media, but there’s not much that’s social about it if there’s no engagement or interaction.

Solution: Your Customers Create your Content

Any 13-year-old can set up social media pages and post messages. The magic is to post content that people who want your product, and can buy your product, actually, really care about. Unless your brand is linked to a social or political cause, achieving this consistently is nearly impossible. An option is to let your customers create your content for you. This isn’t easy, which is why not many brands do this well. The upside is that, if it’s done well, it will drive sales, while increasing your customer base (plus it works like magic to help your paid content find the right audience, but that’s another post). Here’s one way to do it:

Using IRL (In Real Life)

Real life is the oft’ forgotten secret ingredient in great social media campaigns. Used strategically, IRL will contribute to your user generated content, create a “buzz,” for your brand, and will act like hundreds of mini-testimonials, demonstrating that lots and lots of people are enjoying your product or service. Two Canadian companies that do this very well are Mogo socially responsible financial services, and TheRedPin real estate brokerage (full disclosure, the latter has been a client of Socialicity).

Setting up opportunities to engage IRL takes planning, coordination, and persistence. It’s not easy. However, the payoff is a groundswell of content, all of which is about your brand, that your customers are sharing to their networks. The next solution runs along the same lines.

Leveraging the Power of Employees to Create Content

Many organizations typically funnel all of their content through one single Facebook page. Without paying Facebook to boost the post, a post on a company page that has about 500 likes will get to the computer screens or smartphones of only a small fraction of that number. The real power lies in a brand’s employees. Brands who are good at this allow content to be created independently by employees, on their personal pages, and shared with their friends (newsflash, this actually happens way, way more often than brands are aware). A friend of mine who works at a coffee shop recently posted a latte she created (the “latte art” looked eerily like a gnome – it was actually pretty funny), and invited her friends to “come down for a custom-designed gnome latte.” With 600 friends on her Facebook page and about 300 followers on Instagram, the coffee shop was suddenly much busier than they’d been in a long time. How big is the army that is your employees’ Facebook friends? Makes you think, right?

The Obvious Challenges

Giving hundreds of employees carte blanche to post whatever they want about your brand has some obvious challenges, but they’re not insurmountable (One strategy is to start by setting up a team of brand ambassadors who work closely with marketing). The benefit is that where you once had a reach of perhaps a few hundred, you now have a reach of many, many times more than that, depending on your business. More about organizational change management than about social media, this approach often leads to fascinating unintended results as organizations begin to weave the thread of “social” into the fabric of their organization.

While neither of these solutions is easy, they both make a measurable difference to the bottom line. Don’t fall for the, “because we should” rationale of social media. If what you’re doing doesn’t create sales or populate the sales funnel, it’s time to re-consider your strategy and tactics. It might be time to put a little “social” into your social media.

As always, thank you for reading. If this post has been helpful, feel free to like, share, and comment. And if your organization has put the “social”in social media, congratulations! I’d love to hear how it’s going.

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