We follow what interests us and tune out what doesn't. That's the reality. In a previous post I spoke about the type of content that people on social media are interested in.
If you want more effective results from your social media, and Facebook in particular, you need to think about what a customer of yours might find interesting. And you also need to consider that buying a 'pre-packaged' solution (something that is becoming all too common) may not be the right answer for your business.
Before I share seven steps that will help you create more interesting and effective social media content, I need to address the trend I mentioned above. I'm going to challenge and question the value of buying content from 'syndicated' social media content providers.
What is 'syndicated' content?
It is posts, articles, and blog content created for a business in a specific industry but generic enough to be used by any business in that industry. It is the opposite of 'customized' content.
Where does it come from?
The appeal of these solutions is obvious: A company (which might appear to be an agency, or a technology provider, or something else) that focuses on your industry and can create industry-specific articles and posts which are then published in your social media channels on a consistent basis. That saves YOU the time and effort (and anxiety) of 'what to do' with social media and you can focus on running your business knowing that a plan is in place.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that while the content is specific to your industry and seems like it solves the problem of publishing 'good information', it's not about you. This is especially problematic on social media.
The content that you receive and share for your business is also the same content used by other businesses in your category (usually in other towns or markets). While it may appear that the post from your business, the same post can be found on a competitor's news feed in another town.
So why is this not an awesome solution? You don't compete in 'other towns', why does it matter if its the same - as long as it's right?
Just because its 'right' doesn't mean its effective. Here's why: If the content you are buying can also be used by other businesses just like yours, then you are paying for content that has little value or reason to create new customers.
Because the content isn't about YOU - it's about the service you provide.
These services are not only the same ones that these other businesses in other towns provide, they are the same services your direct competitors provide in your town (even if they don't use the same service or syndicated content - what the syndicated content says must be true of ALL businesses in your category).
And therefore the problem: Why should a reader on social media choose you? What makes your business different? Why are you better than others in your category?
Syndicated content does not help potential or existing customers understand those reasons. You are merely telling them what you do - which most of them already know.
Telling people WHAT you do is not differentiation. It's not brand building. What you need to be doing is building preference with your target audience. Generic information about your services- despite it being professionally written and demonstrating deep insights into your industry - is not successful communication to retain or acquire new customers.
Social media is an ideal opportunity to tell your story - to differentiate your brand. Commoditizing your business on social media is not a good strategy.
In fact, if we look at the reasons why people follow a company page on Facebook, it might help answer what you should be sharing:
The above responses form the basis of the following seven steps any business can take to create posts or articles that differentiate, connect, and promote your business.
#1 REVIEW CONTENT YOU LIKE
Study the Facebook pages you personally like and follow - particularly consumer brands. Are they providing content that is interesting and valuable to you? Or are they offering deals, talking about what they do to make your town better, or are they particularly humorous? This will help you to see what many companies (particularly large consumer brands) have figured out.
#2 OFFER YOUR FOLLOWERS VALUE
The reason many people follow a Facebook page is to receive offers or special deals. This is an investment of time and resources, but as one of the main reasons someone will follow your page, it make sense to prioritize this. It should also be something that is done with some level of consistency so that people continue to follow your page.
#3 CREATE OR SHARE EVENTS
Sales or promotions might be how you can offer customers the special deals they are looking for, so don't neglect this on your social media content! But it doesn't have to be sales events, it can be the introduction of a new brand, product line, or something unusual in your inventory. Think about events or news about your business that current customers might find interesting or valuable.
#4 SHARE YOUR PERSONALITY
Posting news about employees or customers that relates to their work or your products can also be interesting and easy to capture with a simple photo from your smartphone. If appropriate, add a tag of the employee or customer's name to extend the sharing to friends and family.
#5 SHOW THEM YOU CARE
Share stories about your community involvement or charitable giving. If you're not comfortable sounding like a self-promoter, link to articles of websites of the charity you support and address the good work that the organization is doing and make no explicit mention outside of a general 'we're proud to support...." People will understand - and appreciate it.
#6 IT'S NOT JUST A JOB TO YOU - IT'S A WAY OF LIFE
Show your passion. Let your followers know that you aren't 'doing what you do' merely because its just your job or business; its because you LOVE what you do! Find interesting stories about your company's service or approach to business that tell customers you are passionate about what you do.
#7 LAUGH AT YOURSELF
It's okay to laugh at yourself. Is your business confident enough in what you do to talk about yourself in a humorous (and honest) light? This will probably require a level of fearlessness that most business owners do not want to pursue (yep, there are risks!). Its very important when using humor to be aware of what the limits of good taste and common sense will allow. But most people like to laugh, and most people will like a company that makes them laugh (or, at least, smile))!
This doesn't have to be a therapy sessions, but can focus on the mundane, for example, terrifying stories about your lunch room refrigerator! As long as it doesn't reflect negatively on your service or products (this is not a good idea for a restaurant, for example), having a bit of fun is a great way to build a relationship with customers.
These are seven steps to consider that can work in almost any business. And if you need help, get more employees involved in the process; my experience has shown that many employees are not only excited about being involved in this, but have a good handle on things to say and do.
The main thing to notice is that there is one common thread with all of the above: they are all about you! Content based on these steps will create posts that are relevant to your specific business. They are not generic. You are not just publishing posts because you need to do something on social media; you are publishing posts to connect with real people.
Not every post you create will be an amazing success - it is something of an art. But if you stick to creating content that is authentic, interesting, and valuable to the reader then people will be more likely to follow you. And that helps to retain and acquire customers.