Pictures, text, audio, and video. Within social media that's really all you have to work with. That's all anyone has to work with. Every day there is a new platform, app, or site. But they all just come down to pictures, text, audio, and video … or some combination thereof.
Odds are you have some talent with one. Maybe even two. And that can be enough. That can be enough to create really impressive content, content that connects with people, that really hold their interest. And even if you are only adept at using one of these forms, you can create content for multiple platforms.
And quality counts. Yes, video is the ultimate eye candy. And access to expensive equipment can give you more options. But I have seen people bored to death by the trailer for some big budget movie. And I have seen people enthralled with a couple of well-crafted sentences. Suddenly top-of-the-line technology in the world of movie-making magic loses out to a man or a woman with just a keyboard and a sans serif font.
So don't be intimidated by the new social media platform. At the same time don't think that the new app means you don't have to do the work. It is still all about telling a good story using only pictures, text, audio, and video.
When you meet someone at, say, a party, often he or she will ask, “So what do you do?” If your answer is something like “acquisition programming enhancement consultant”, you will likely be greeted with a half-hearted smile and nod or a more direct “What the hell does that mean?”
This then leads to a response much lighter on the buzzwords. Then you might segue into an interesting story related to your job. Maybe something funny. Maybe something unusual or surprising. Or maybe there are some questions that people inevitably ask. “Out of curiosity, how do you …?” “If you don't mind my asking, what is the best …?”
Think of these instances when creating social media for your business.
These interactions are often where people explain their work or their company in an interesting, engaging manner. That is the foundation for some of the best social media content.
Mainly what I do is pull stories out of people. It takes time. It takes effort. But I find that those stories make the best content. They are the best way for the people behind a band or a business to connect with the people who make up their audience, their customers.
No one ever says, “Wow I love pop-up ads!” Much like no one ever says, “Wow I love this venereal disease!” For some reason, though, a number of websites still use them. Pop-up ads I mean. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some websites used venereal diseases too. “The consultants said we could increase our click through numbers if the code for our homepage included a strain of herpes.”
After all, many companies think that online marketing is about gimmicks. Some try to make their gimmick seem noble. “If 500 people retweet this, we will give this child the medicine he needs to live.” Some try to attract customers with a game. “Try our new first-person shooter game! You’ll have fun while learning about the ins and outs of home mortgages!” And some think they can build a loyal following just by creating a hashtag. “Tell us how the Smith Wellness Center has helped you or your loved ones. Just post your story with #myrectum.”
And that last example appears again and again. Someone has a good idea for connecting with their customers, for humanizing their business, and then they ruin it by adding the conversational equivalent of a bar code.
I understand that there is a lot of competition out there for people’s attention. But if you want quality customers, genuine fans, you will need to attract them with quality content. Not gimmicks.
Why I take a journalistic approach to social media rather than an advertising / heavy on the selling / pushy approach ...
We interrupt my normally neurotic ramblings for a brief moment of pride. When I first started working with Huey Lewis & The News they had 7,000 followers on Facebook. Today they now have 700,000 followers and a post reach of 1 million. This was done without any paid advertising or gimmicks. We just focused on the band, their music, their fans, and their story. And counter to a lot of advice out there, I also adhered to Huey's request early on not to be pushy.
I want to thank the band and their manager for first putting their trust in me four years ago. I run a small business. I do most of the work myself. I could outsource things, but I like being personally involved and I take the trust of my clients very seriously.
We now return you to my normally scheduled neuroses.
One thing people like about social media is the instant gratification. You post something and soon afterward people like the post, share it, etc. As a result, people start to see it as a world of immediate results.
But building a solid following takes time. I am not talking about followers who thoughtlessly fill up their newsfeed with anything and everything. Those people are easy to accumulate. I am talking about genuine fans, people who will spend money on you.
Many people in social media are obsessed with speed. But if you want to really build something, that is going to take persistence and patience.