In the social media world we’ve moved away from merely bean counting our page likes and followers to getting those people to interact with our brands. It makes sense, right? In the real world your neighbor down the street may like you enough to say hi when they see you, but are they a real friend? Getting a page like or follower means you have acquired an acquaintance. Comments and shares means your acquaintances want to know you better, agreed with you, and hopefully want to tell their friends about you.
Marketers attempt to drive engagement in various ways. They take polls, conduct contests, post quizzes, have giveaways, and of course, provide useful information. They may even share viral content from other sources. There are other methods that work too.
The Great Peanut Butter and Jelly Dilemma
One of the best examples of customer engagement I have personally experienced happened many years ago in the offline space. I was writing and producing a quarterly hardcopy/email newsletter for a client who sold specialty hardware to the theatrical industry. Believe me, you couldn’t pick a more mind numbing subject to write about. The most exciting piece I normally got to create was a comparison of different ropes for various applications.
While preparing one of the issues we decided to throw in a silly item, just for a change. We asked, “How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Peanut butter spread on the bread and jelly on top? Or do you put peanut butter on one slice of bread and jelly on the other?
Within days of mailing out our normal few hundred copies of the newsletter we started getting emails, letters and faxes (!!!) back from our readers. There were a lot of answers that matched our A/B test, but there were also a surprising number of folks who baked or toasted their PB&J sandwiches, added fried bananas or even bacon. By the next quarterly issue we had heard from about 30% of our mailing list. Respondents started agreeing or disagreeing with each other in letters that we printed. And by the third quarterly newsletter had received 15 requests to be added to the mailing list.
It’s called “Pattern Interrupt”
Pattern interrupt is a term first used by hypnotists to define the tool they use to break habits and open the patient up to changing their behaviors. In marketing this is one of the most effective ways of getting the attention of your audience. You break the pattern of what people expect to see on your Facebook page, as an example, and they will likely sit up and notice. After that happens your important promotional message will be presented to an already receptive audience.
How can marketers use pattern interrupt to their advantage? The simplest way is to post something entirely unexpected and outside your normal voice, whether it’s funny, controversial or just plain silly like my peanut butter and jelly example above. Be creative and break whatever patterns you’ve been using to communicate. Keep testing different ways to disrupt your audience’s normal expectations.
A final question
So, how do you make your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Have you noticed how difficult it is to get people to visit your brick-and-mortar store these days? Consumers are really taking to shopping online more and more as evidenced by the fact that internet sales have enjoyed quantum leap increases every year. Plus much of your offline advertising is wasted dollars as print publications continue to decline, and broadcast media is just too expensive.
So what’s a small, independent retailer to do?
Optimally you would sell online, but this can be very costly and time consuming. You would probably need more staff to photograph and write copy for products, a webmaster to make sure everything is working properly all the time, and someone to package and ship. A more practical and economical alternative would be to use Facebook to promote your store and product line.
Grow your audience.
Once your Facebook business page is set up you need to get followers. The simplest way to do this is to advertise on Facebook itself. It’s cheaper and more effective than offline ads and Google AdWords. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, and most importantly for local businesses, by zip code. Make the ad enticing and you will get more page likes. Offer a discount coupon, notice of a sale, or some incredibly useful – or even controversial – information to pique interest. You can also promote a post from your Facebook page itself for a more detailed description.
Cater to your audience.
Now that you have people viewing your page and posts it’s time to give them what they want. Of course that includes notifications of sales and events, but also new products and trends in your industry. Spice it up. Don’t just present a new product, show that product in use with a video or series of photos. Link to a fashion magazine page where the product appears, or a news article about this product being the best or most sought-after of the year. Also add a little helpful “how to” once in a while.
Make sure that all of your customers have a reason to like your Facebook page. Have cards or flyers in-store promising “Facebook only” deals and discounts. Add the same Facebook blurb to all of your offline advertising and mailings.
Go to the next level.
At some point each day every one of your customers checks their email. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be there in the inbox when they do? Here’s an easy way to set that up. Set up a single page website and offer a substantial discount coupon in exchange for an email address. Then with an autoresponder you can keep in contact with your entire list. This is an inexpensive – and in some cases totally free! – way to remind your customers that you welcome their business.
Move beyond Facebook to other social platforms. If you sell a physical product you absolutely want to be on Instagram and Pinterest. Business-to-business companies always benefit from having a LinkedIn page. Twitter is the best social site for garnering leads. And uploading videos to YouTube is a great way to move your website up in page rankings.
Are you having trouble getting started with social media? In addition to our full service integrated social media services we also offer limited time consulting. We will set up your sites, create content and an editorial calendar, and hold your hand until you are ready to go out on your own. Contact us today: Content+Creativity at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.937.5187.
Our team is meeting and pitching to a lot of new accounts these days. Oh, by the way, if you are looking for help with your marketing and social media and would like to partner with a terrific company that has unlimited creative ideas, tons of experience, and is easy and fun to work with, I have included our contact info at the bottom for your convenience. Now back to my story.
In doing the research for client proposals I’ve visited dozens of Facebook pages and one thing jumped out immediately: too many companies use Facebook purely as a showcase for their work. Photo after photo, before and afters, or just before and afters and most of the time never labeled. Ad nauseam, ad infinitum. There is virtually no engagement with fans, and nothing at all to break up the picture albums.
Hello? What part of SOCIAL media do you folks not understand?!
Imagine engaging in this type of behavior offline. You go to a party armed with 20 lbs of albums full of your children’s pictures. Upon meeting someone for the first time you spend the next half hour regaling that person with the wonderfulness of your kids.
“This is little Johnny winning the baseball trophy last year. And here is Suzie accepting the high point award for her age group at the swim club. Oh, and this is Suzie’s prom dress, which of course she made herself. Isn’t she beautiful? Did I mention that Johnny won the Geography Bee last year?”
Would you be surprised if your new acquaintance wandered off rather rapidly towards the guacamole dip? How insulted would you be to learn that taco chips are preferred to your ongoing, mind-numbing narrative? Is this how people behave at parties? They’d better not. The same is true for Facebook.
Facebook is not your portfolio. Facebook is where your content goes to make friends.
If you treat Facebook as a gallery for your work you are not only missing the point but you are also missing many opportunities.
Put a human face on your company.
Does the company owner or an employee coach a local kids’ team? Put up a picture. How about featuring an Employee of the Month, and describe how great that person is and why. Do you attend local events? Share the experience. Potential customers don’t only want to know that you do good work and are reputable; they also want to be able to relate to the people doing the work at their home.
Find out more about your customers.
Learn about their preferences by asking questions that are not open-ended. For example, rather than ask, “What kind of counter top do you like?” Say, “If you were to renovate your kitchen in the next few months would you get a) granite b) marble or c) butcher block countertops?” Or “Which pavers do you think looks best? a) slate b) brick c) concrete d) stone?” You will get much more engagement if you suggest the answers instead of forcing people to think.
Provide useful information.
Your audience craves the kind of information that you probably take for granted. New product releases or better ways maintaining their home are appealing to most people. Remember, you want to be viewed as the authority in your industry, and the more you appear to be up on current trends the better you will be positioned as such.
Use Facebook as a gateway to your website.
That’s where you really want people to go, right? Your website should be the place where potential customers can find out everything about you, what services you offer, the company ownership and history, and all contact information. Here is where your want your portfolio to be, either as a separate page/tab or optimally as part of a blog page. There are search engine benefits to updating your website often, too. So every time it makes sense to do it, add a link to your website in your Facebook posts.
Pictures of cute kittens and puppies and funny memes are kind of silly for a business to use, right? WRONG. These are the types of Facebook posts that get shared and have the greatest potential to go viral. If you want a great and inexpensive way to spread the word about your business consider be funny, whimsical or cute occasionally.
If these Facebook suggestions seem like too much work we can help. As promised, here is our contact information: Content + Creativity – www.contentandcreativity.com, 610-937-5187, email@example.com
Everyone wants to know when the best time is to post content for their business on Facebook. It seems that every other day another marketing writer publishes an article with the answer to this burning question. Unfortunately, they all come to different conclusions. Some claim the optimal time to post is from noon to 9 pm, Monday through Fridays; others say 10 am to 4 pm is best, but only from Tuesday through Friday. One even claimed he found the “sweet spot” at precisely 3 pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Really? I’ll have to remember not to take a nap at 3 pm on Wednesdays.
To be fair, all of these folks included the disclaimer that the recommended times were based upon their own research and analytics solely with regard to their own audience. And that’s the point. Every business is different, and prime posting times will depend upon many factors.
[Important note: I am only referring to “People Reached” in this article, without consideration of likes, comments, shares or content quality. Those factors would skew the numbers.]
Who are your customers?
Prime time on Facebook varies depending upon the target audience. Mothers of school age children are likely to be checking in between 8:30 and 10 am. Millennials, bless their young hearts, are awake and active on social media between 9 pm and midnight. Older business owners tend to visit Facebook early in the day before 9 am. I know this because I am an older business owner myself.
If you can identify your primary market’s lifestyle it should not be difficult to figure out when they have time for Facebook.
Where are your customers?
I have a small Facebook community with about 500 page likes focused on one of my hobbies. When I post at 8 am I am lucky to get 10 views, but after 9 pm I get 30 to 60 views on each new post almost immediately. Overnight the views really spike, which leads me to surmise that many in my audience live overseas.
If your audience is local the geographic answer is simple. But if your fans are spread all over the world the 3 pm timeframe at which you are posting from the East Coast is, as an example, noon to Californians. This may necessitate posting the same content more than once. However, you absolutely should “spin” (change the headline, first paragraph, order of paragraphs, etc.) the post so it doesn’t look as though you are spamming content.
What do your customers want and when do they want it?
Some people are planners; others act on the spur of the moment. If you are holding an in-store event then you need to take this into consideration. Post your first notice over a week in advance, and then make sure you post the day before. Two or three hours before the scheduled event put it on Facebook one more time, because there’s always a few people who haven’t yet decided what to do with their day.
I grew up in the restaurant business and one of the benefits of being a member of a “food family” is that people think you are an expert in everything food-related. Restaurants should capitalize on that perception and give their customers the benefit of their knowledge. Early in the day post something helpful on Facebook. This could be a recipe, a cooking technique, or even news from the food space that an average consumer needs. At 4 pm there should be a regular promotional post. Something like, “What’s For Dinner?” describing the special of the day, including a scrumptious photo. This could run every day or just selected days of the week. Do you recall those spur of the moment people I spoke of earlier? You might see them tonight at dinner! Remember, if you’re a restaurant the last thing you want to post is stock photos of food. Show us what you got!
The point is having a solid knowledge of your customer makes it much easier to determine optimum posting times for Facebook and your other social media accounts.
Back to the research. You can also research your own prime posting times for your market much the same way as the marketers I referenced above. Simply make a spreadsheet of every single post you made over one month and note the number of people reached. You will find that during certain times of day more of your audience is on Facebook, making it easier to schedule your most important communications.
Now, if you don’t have the time for this much less time to post on Facebook, you should give us a call. We are here to help!
You created an attractive Facebook page for your business and now diligently post every day. Your followers see post after post about your products, services, events, and everything else there is to know about your business. If you are consistent with your Facebook posts, congratulations! That’s very good. But if your posts are essentially about one subject – your business – it’s not so good.
Consider your Facebook page to be like any other social event. You wouldn’t go to a party and talk non-stop about your business. That would be pretty boring, right? After a few minutes most people would drift away, and that’s exactly what will happen to your followers on Facebook. Social media will work best for your business when you provide useful information AND actually converse with your audience.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here is a 1-2-3 easy strategy for making your Facebook page more interesting to your followers and customers.
There are three basic categories of posts:
1. Product/Service Business
This type of post includes anything and everything directly related to your business such as products, services, events, sales, new customers or employees, etc. You no doubt already write posts such as these, but why not make them more timely and relevant?
For example, if you have a pizza shop and it just snowed in your neighborhood, rather than merely introduce a new pizza flavor, why not present it this way: “Snowed in? We are still delivering! Try our new pizza flavor.”
If you have a medical office you can accomplish more than just awareness with a post like, “Need a quick appointment? We had two cancellations for Thursday morning. Call now if you’d like to come in.”
A bookstore could get in-store traffic while providing a service to customers. “Are your kids off from school today? We have a special holiday storytime scheduled for 11 am this morning. All are welcome.”
You get the idea. Promote your business while offering an additional, helpful perk for customers.
2. News and Information
If you know your customers you also know the things that interest them. Give it to them! You can find information that relates to your business from sources all over the web.
If your customers are mothers of young children, find articles on how to choose a preschool or day care or what are the most highly recommended educational toys and games.
A realtor could share useful information on home maintenance or renovations.
Nearly any business can find an appropriate “How To” video on YouTube. Another method for searching for news is to set up a Google alert based upon keywords relative to your market.
3. Engagement Posts
This is what social media is all about, after all. Converse with your customers and develop relationships so that they become your friends, part of your tribe.
Engagement posts can have absolutely nothing to do with your business. They can be funny quotes or photos, videos, humorous articles, or memes. Anything designed to get a chuckle from your target market, or something that they can obviously relate to, will generally get likes, shares and comments.
On the other hand, you can use these types of posts to promote your business as long as they are fun and elicit a response from your community.
You can take a survey or ask for opinions on various options. Facebook-only coupons are a good way to ensure that your followers remain followers. And don’t forget to ask them to share your posts!
Now that you have a variety of post types how should you use them? We recommend going light on the business promotion posts and heavy on the engagements. Remember, social media should be more SOCIAL than anything else!
Here’s a final idea: Many years ago I produced a quarterly newsletter for a client who sold specialty tools. The content consisted mostly of product news, how-tos, specifications and new introductions. Pretty boring stuff. There was some extra space in one issue so I asked the readers to respond to what I called, “The Great Peanut Butter and Jelly Dilemma.” How should a PB&J sandwich be constructed? Peanut butter on the bottom or the jelly? We received hundreds of responses, and many of them so creative that we had tons of content for subsequent issues, and were able to continue this conversation for a whole year.
Feel free to share this in your Facebook community!