Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Pinterest.
Vine. Periscope. Instagram. Tumblr.
Storytelling is a huge part of what it means to be human.
These networks are the contemporary platforms we use to tell others who we are.
Today in 2016 we are experiencing a culture shift in how human beings interact, tell stories, and especially market. The new platform in which we have used to rebuild these connections is manifested in the form of social media – genuine human interaction, stories, jokes, and sentiments that have been reduced to the swipe of a screen.
Well-known companies and corporations use these cyber avenues to market their product or service, and even small businesses are following suit. Regarding the statistics, the switch to mobile is a move in the right direction. It is probably not a surprise to know that altogether, the average American spends over 2 hours a day on their smartphone – truly our culture’s latest addiction. Just by watching society throughout the day in any public setting, half of the people we catch a glimpse of are staring down at their phone. While this is unfortunate and we do not have to like it, this continues to be a reality. A reality that entrepreneurs everywhere must both recognize and utilize if they desire to be seen.
Possibly the best part about taking advantage of these forms of advertising is the fact that they are all, for the most part, free. While it is suggested to of course invest money to boost posts on social media for a small fee, the initial account and login information does not cost a dime.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is an acronym casually thrown around by web developers and users alike. But what does it really mean?
Search engine optimization is growing your web presence and traffic to the point of climbing ranks on the search engine. Google specifically has credentials by which order they list sites on the results page following a keyword search. A lot of it depends on when your website was last updated, and whether or not it is mobile-friendly (designed to be compatible with a smartphone or tablet). One thing that greatly increases a company’s web presence is to not only have a functional and mobile-friendly website, but to be as involved as possible on social media. Post to Facebook and Twitter; because they appear on the search engine too. Chances are, if company’s website and network posts are some of the first to appear on a search, they have a noteworthy web presence.
However, while it is quite apparent that small business owners should be utilizing any resource that they can get their hands on, that is only half the battle.
Knowing Your Audience
Let’s face it, the general public – even business owners themselves – get tired of having constant ads thrown at them. Facebook usage statistics are decreasing for this very reason. To make a decision based on what content to post sensitive to your company’s purpose, you must first analyze any one social media site’s demographic.
For example, Facebook members encompass a wide variety of people; with no specific age, race, gender, or religion dominating another. Now, Facebook services users by displaying websites, articles, and products on any one user’s feed based on their given interests and pages they have personally Liked. Facebook is sort of the “wild card” of social media. What appears on one person’s feed, may not appear on the other; even if they have similar friends, interests, and pages Liked.
Pinterest consists of mostly (but not all) women, and more specifically engaged or married women in their late twenties to middle-aged, many being mothers. This is a direct result of Pinterest’s purpose; which is eCommerce, creativity, and inspiration. Posts consist of primarily crafts, DIYs, recipes, and projects designed to improve the home.
Tumblr is notoriously used by college students and “fandoms” (the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture). This is where you’re most likely to find a gif of an adorable kitten with a witty discussion thread below it. It is also where one would be most likely find a fan theory about an event or character in Harry Potter or Game of Thrones (also known as a Headcannon). Tumblr is also known primarily as a collection of leftists; as more solemn posts are discovered to strongly advocate LGBT rights, feminism, and progressive thinking. Because of this, Tumblr is often a source for Instagram and Pinterest users to repost from as both networks are known to be used to share opinions and personal moral convictions.
Sites like YouTube and Flickr are primarily used for content sharing. What this means is that users navigate it with a purpose to view and share. Users are limited to the art form of photo and video.
Perhaps you will only utilize some but not all forms of social media because your business simply has no relevant reason to market to a specific demographic. Despite the type of business, service, or even clientele, there is no one-size fits all post on any social network. Respect the context, not just the content of the post.
Context, not Content
Many of us use social network platforms in a similar way email marketing is utilized: for distribution. A post or message that redirects somewhere else. When in reality, we must hone in on the psychology of why they are there in the first place. You could take 1000 people who both have Facebook and Instagram – the exact same 1000 people. Then, your company shares one post on both sites the same way. Lone behold, two different reactions are received. That is because individuals use different networks for different things; and if we are going to reach them and sell to them, we need to concentrate on why they are there and what they are after.
“We have get out of this stupid thought of awareness, and start getting [in] to emotional attention; are we actually bringing [the customer] value? Do we actually talk to them about what they want in these spheres? It’s not about pushing advertising, it’s about bringing value in this sphere. Why does somebody like to go to Tumblr? Because they like [expletive] animated gifs! So give it to them, right? And give it to them in a way a human being would give it to them, not a brand, and be smart about it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
When we understand the type of user on any one network (the context), we can better understand how to adjust the content. Give your customers not just a brand they like, but a brand that connects with them and relates with them. Especially since human emotion and connection is one of the main reasons why Facebook was created! To share with friends. Make your customers not just people that buy from you, but your friends.
Sure, not every business will find a use for Vine. Or Linked In. Or Periscope. But rest assured, “Quality storytelling always wins.”