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?
A podcast is an audio or video file that is parsed out in episodes. Listeners can either stream these episodes online on sites like SoundCloud or download them through apps like iTunes. Unlike traditional radio, anyone can start a podcast; and if promoted successfully it can ultimately have a strong, loyal fanbase. The audience for your podcast can be anybody in your demographic, but not limited to your geographical area. If your company is looking to get increased online reach and exposure, this is a great way to achieve it.
Podcasts are not just for the younger generations; Baby Boomers not only listen but create podcasts as well. In nearly every industry, whether B2B or B2C, podcasts are likely to be used. Still not convinced? Here are some serious advantages to starting a podcast for your business.
Show what you know
Think of it this way: you have a business blog, not only to make your website dynamic (and therefore higher in the search rankings!), but also to show that you and your business are an authority in your industry. Why not use another format to convey that as well? The content is where you need to shine. Although podcasts typically utilize evergreen content, you want to be aware of what your industry goes through during any given season and create content accordingly. Let’s say you’re a mechanic and you have a podcast about cars and car maintenance. You aren’t going to get many views about winterizing your tires in June. Keep it current but also universal so that your listeners can go back to the episode and have it be helpful whenever they need it.
Let your personality shine
Podcasts need to be as entertaining as they are informative. Nobody’s going to listen to a monotone voice with a bland topic for thirty minutes. This medium is where creativity and personality sets many podcasters apart. If you’re feeling uninspired, have a guest on the show. This could be a colleague or someone else in your company who has a topic they’d like to discuss.
An advertising avenue less traveled
The larger your audience is, the more likely you can find other companies that want to advertise on your podcast. This may sound counterintuitive, but it can benefit you monetarily in two ways. The advertiser could pay for a 30 second ad or give your listeners a special coupon code to take advantage of. Depending on the advertiser and your audience size, they may even agree to do both. Although this sounds exciting to have ads on your podcast, you’re going to have to focus on building up your listenership and creating great content before you even get to this step. But if you become successful enough advertising is a definite possibility.
Things to remember
Despite podcasts being free to the listener, creating a podcast will incur some costs. These include buying equipment, if you don’t already have it, and purchasing a Pro account on a podcasting site, if necessary. These costs are relatively minimal depending upon your recording frequency and the size of audience you are reaching.
Speaking of recording frequency, it’s important to adhere to a schedule. Whether it be bi-weekly or monthly, it’s important to keep your listeners abreast of what’s going on. Although posting hiatuses are frowned upon, it’s much better than creating weak content for your listeners that they may lose interest in. If you’re going to take a break, send out a notification so your fans know what’s up. Hopefully, they will be there when you return. But there are no guarantees.
Viral campaigns do not just happen. There are tried-and-true ways to create content that will make your followers want to share it with their family, friends, and social media circle. Here are some practical tips that you can start working into your marketing plan today.
1. Give your followers something memorable to talk about.
You can only explain something to others if what you saw was easily recalled. Don’t be afraid to be a little controversial. Your product or business needs to stand out from the competition, so focus on one aspect of your industry’s normal message and flip it on its head, or introduce a new and unique way to use your product.
2. Say it again, again … and again!
As with traditional marketing, retention of your message is a function of quality, consistency and repetition. Don’t ever repeat yourself word for word of course, but rework that memorable message into different formats such as videos, photos, infographics and reworded articles and blog posts.
3. Give the public a message that counts.
No matter what business you are in or product you sell there will always be a number of individuals who are as passionate about it as you. Cater your marketing efforts to those who are passionate and you will have a base of important influencers willingly spreading your message. People are more likely to “like” a post that their friends have already liked, so think of a clear vision of who you want to reach and that message will spread among their friends, their friend’s friends and beyond.
4. Show that your product or business is valuable and practical.
When people are searching for a product or service, they want to be sure that they are getting the best value on a stellar product. In addition to publishing testimonials, product tutorials and benefits, running an occasional sale will generate even more interest. You can ask your followers to share certain posts and give them a reward for doing so, such as a better discount than the sale price.
5. Make it fun!
Entertaining posts are a great way to engage your audience. Although selling your product or business is important, many customers and potential customers don’t want to follow a company page that is straight selling and all business. You will need to lighten the mood from time to time. Some examples could be, a funny skit done by your office staff, pictures from an after hours event or your philanthropic work. At the heart of your business are PEOPLE – both your employees and your customers – and the best social media campaigns show how much you value these relationships.