Would you ever host a party and spend the entire time talking only about yourself—or, going a step further, selling yourself—to guests? Would you ever want to attend a party like that?
Of course not. A brand’s presence in social media is very much akin to a party, one they want customers to like, speak well of, come back again, and bring their friends with them. And yet you often see businesses blindly selling themselves on Facebook and other social properties, pushing out status updates and content that talk only about their product without any regard to what else might interest their customers. And surprise—even their biggest fans stop engaging, which (at least on Facebook) makes it less and less likely that the company’s messages will appear in their newsfeed.
I like to give clients two really simple litmus tests for whether their collective content programming through social is creating value and truly leveraging the medium:
1. Is the content meeting one of these three universal human needs?
- Self-expression and idea sharing
- Connecting with friends and community
- Receiving positive attention and recognition
The language I’m using above is consumer-oriented, but is easily reconceived for B2B:
- Exchange of information and expertise; collaboration
- Networking with other professionals
- Improve my standing with colleagues and management
2. Is the content encouraging conversations among the people who follow you—in other words, generating new connections?
It’s not that every status update needs to hit this high bar. And in fact, many customers love to chat with others about the products they love; maintaining a social property is a great way to facilitate that. But the greatest power of social isn’t talking at people, or even a 1:1 interactive relationship. It’s about creating a space where people get value from access to each other and scratch their social itch.
A few quick examples to get you thinking: Oreo encourages their fans to share photos of their Oreo experiences. Lululemon shares inspiring pictures from local yoga events organized by their stores around the U.S. Epicurious asks readers to share their secret to perfect chicken soup.
All of these simple posts help create a sense of social connection, and also offer practical information to help connect followers to others in the brand’s social space and sometimes even offline.
Unleashing relationships through social isn’t actually that hard. It just requires you to be thoughtful about the needs of and potential connections between the people who follow you.
So ask yourself: How can my social media help my followers benefit more from each other thanks to their mutual connection via my platform, to experience the benefits listed above? Figure that out, and you’ll quickly see your engagement numbers skyrocket.