One of the most common refrains I hear from brands is this: “Social media doesn’t work for us.” What I generally find when I unpack that statement is that “doing social media” for these companies generally means treating social media as if it’s another push platform like a billboard or radio ad.
Traditional media platforms will always have their place, but just as the way you write a radio ad is going to be different than the way you write a television ad, how your brand speaks on social media should be different from how it speaks anywhere else.
What many forget about social media is the social part. Social media is about thoughtful (and yes, certainly, sometimes not-so-thoughtful) engagement with others. In fact, it’s this need for personal attention and engagement that so often drives customers to contact a brand over Facebook or Twitter instead of the more impersonal email or lengthy telephone tree. Twitter is a medium that’s all about fast, real-time responses. If customers aren’t getting that, then at best you’ll find that they don’t flock to your social media platforms. At worst, it will make them actively angry.
Here are three reasons you may not be gaining and engaging Twitter followers as well as you expected:
- You don’t understand what your customer wants. Many marketers believe they know what a customer wants, but in reality, they know what they want a customer to want instead of what that customer really Empathy is by far a marketer’s most powerful weapon. Too often, brands spend a lot of time trying to figure out the message they want to put in front of customers instead of asking themselves why this message would be compelling to customers. If you’re sharing social media messages that your whole team loves and believes “really gets across the brand message” but isn’t engaging customers, take a step back and look at your customer research and demographics again.
- You forgot that social media is performance art. In today’s increasingly content-glutted world, your customers are bombarded by thousands of ads and news bites every day in a variety of different media. To get attention and engagement, you need to spend more time thinking about how to both inform and entertain customers in a way that’s unique, memorable, and valuable. We tend to feel indebted to those who do us a favor. Provide free gifts and favors to customers in the form of entertainment and valuable advice, and they may feel compelled to return that favor by signing up for a free trial, buying your product, or recommending it to a friend. Even better, if you can make customers laugh, inspire them, or provoke a good feeling from something you write or post, customers will naturally begin to associate your brand with that positive feeling, and seek you and your product out when they want to feel it again.
- Develop a brand voice. You’ve probably heard a lot about brand voice, but what is it, really? Brand voice refers to the word choice, tone, and grammar you choose to employ in public-facing media bearing your brand mark. Are you selling fun and quirky merchandise that appeals to fun and quirky people? Then you best start creating your own fun and quirky brand voice. The truth is that we tend to like people who are more like us. So find out who your target customer is, and develop a voice online that they can relate to. If there’s a message out there to your target audience that doesn’t appeal to you personally but does appeal to your customers, sit down and figure out why it works for them. Once again, empathy plays a big role in marketing success here.
Are you struggling to develop a brand voice? Does social media really just “not work” for you and your brand? Maybe take a step back and apply these three lessons to your current social strategy on Twitter. Then report back! We’d love to hear from you.