I have a confession to make: I am a terrible sculptor. I can draw portraits, design posters, even do some decently nice woodworking, but give me a ball of clay and tell me to make a puppy and I will create a sagging lumpy monstrosity worthy of a late 80s horror film.
It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a terrible artist. I just don’t know how to work with that medium.
A lot of marketers are like that with social media. Give them a billboard, a website, or a thirty second commercial and they will build you a masterpiece, but hand them the reigns of a Facebook page and you’ll get an awkward lump of gray formless matter. It doesn’t mean they’re bad at marketing, but the pulse of the public excitement is a weird creature that needs to be constantly channeled and stimulated. Do it wrong and you’ll be stranded with a boring Facebook page with a hundred followers but no actual fans.
Excitement – Your Most Valuable Commodity
Classic advertising relies upon the captive audience. Want to watch your favorite show? First sit through this beer commercial. Stuck on the highway? Stare at this billboard. Social media defies those rules.
Facebook is grassroots excitement-driven publicity that relies heavily upon getting your visitors to like, share, and talk about your posts. Your target audience gets bombarded by marketing messages every day. They’re jaded, they’re cynical and your billboard style ad isn’t going to make it through their defenses.
The greatest resource in the social media world is buzz. You want people to be excited enough that they have to tell their friends.
Stunning photographs, interesting facts, behind the scenes stories – show them a different face. If you’re a theatre company, don’t just post a publicity photo for your upcoming play, give them a behind the scenes tour of a working costume shop as they piece together the coat of motley for the jester. Post a time lapse video of a neat make-up effect being applied. Tell a story about two of your actors walking into a Starbucks on stilts during their break and post a photo of them posing with the barista. If it wouldn’t be neat enough to be a conversation starter at a party, it probably isn’t going to work for your social media page.
What if My Business is Boring?
Social media is a place for personality. If you can’t get people excited about your widgets, at least get them to remember the face of your company. If you want to build community and public support, go out and interact. Enter a team in a charity race and tell their amazing story. Build a sandcastle at the local sculpting festival. Adopt a shelter dog as the office mascot. Creating social buzz isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone, but if you can make a story that’s worth re- telling your business will reap the benefits.
A lot of businesses find their niche in social media by re-posting interesting tidbits from the internet. If done well, these links can be popular and cause fans to share your posts. This kind of found content marketing is a double edged sword though. If you don’t have a real story of your own to share, your business will just be borrowing and amplifying buzz for others. There’s no real point to having ten thousand Facebook fans if you don’t have your own organic message to share.
Found content is like bacon for your Facebook page. Dish out small meaty portions and your audience may find it flavorful, but feed them on a diet of it and your Facebook page will probably end up in cardiac arrest.
When you do have that perfectly crafted billboard and just need to get it seen, Facebook paid advertising is a decent route. Even a ten dollar budget is usually enough to get your ad seen by about 500-1000 people. One of the strengths of social media is that it allows for amazing ad targeting. You can set very precise demographics for your market, even targeting people who post about specific topics online. Your ad should be image-driven. Facebook won’t approve ads if text covers over 20% of the area.
This is a great place to use a professional photo shoot or go out and find the perfect stock photograph. Our preferred stock photography supplier is Shutterstock.com.
When you do have this perfect billboard message, consider giving fans an additional reason to share it. If your product is high enough quality and you’ve built enough excitement, many folks will be willing to share your post to their page if they get free entry into a drawing.
Putting It All Together
Having a successful Facebook page is a fairly full time job. Great photos and stories tend to happen around us all the time, but most folks don’t truly go out of their way to document them. A successful Facebook marketer should always have an eye out for opportunities to build excitement, should have a professional photographer on speed dial, and should never be far from a notebook or a camera. It’s hard work, but if you can successfully get people to care about the personality of your business, you will get the kind of buy-in that a thirty second beer commercial can only dream about.