Did you know you can make people absolutely loathe you with your social media promotions? Think about the makeup of social media for a moment. Let’s use Facebook as an example. Why did you sign up for your own personal Facebook account? Likely, you wanted to get in touch with old friends, share pictures with family, perhaps read a joke or two and keep abreast of what people are up to.
You certainly didn’t sign up so you could be inundated with advertising or promotions from companies. Even if you adore a company or business and you do decide to like their page, you still won’t appreciate blatant self-promotion. That is the mistake that many social media companies make on social media.
The Numbers Tell the Tale
According to ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preferences Study, even when consumers sign up for communication from a company, only 4% want promotions sent via Facebook (even less for Twitter at 1%). In fact, by a whopping 77%, we prefer that promotional information be sent via email, but only with permission of course.
With that in mind, it is obvious that businesses must be very focused in how they utilize social media. The last thing you want to do is irritate your core audience to the point that they don’t even want to purchase your product or service.
The way that social media is set up for companies almost forces companies to act more like a person than a corporation. And, the truth is that, the more you can act like a “person” on social media, the research indicates that the more reach you’ll have with potential customers.
Let’s take a look at how some companies have used this concept successfully.
BufferApp.com started something new to engage readers called #BufferChat. This is a weekly chat on a variety of topics where the executives and others in the know at Buffer get to talking on Twitter. In fact, Buffer has 221,000 followers and growing steadily.
You’ll also notice that Buffer engages with readers. If they hashtag Buffer, they can be assured Buffer will respond. This is the kind of interaction that people crave on social media and one of the keys to Buffer’s success.
Huffington Post is another expert in utilizing social media to market their brand. They’ve learned that offering interesting images and unique content gives their social readers something to share with others on social media platforms.
In the example here, Huffington post uses both a large, interesting photograph and a headline that is engaging to the reader. People want to know how people used graffiti to be kind. Many people will read the article and share it.
Huffington Post has 3,234,321 likes on Facebook. The article referenced here has been shared 37 times in less than 20 minutes and another 214 people liked the post.
E&A Credit Union
The final example is referenced in an article on Vertical Response. Apparently, E&A Credit Union hired James and Matthew and Company to create a public relations social media campaign. What the PR company came up with is beyond brilliant.
First, they posted a couple of lines on Facebook along with an image of a zombie-proof home.
“We all know that the Zombie Apocalypse is coming soon. What you need is a 1.99% APR home equity line of credit to upgrade your defenses.”
Who could resist something with this much humor and creativity? If there is one thing people who are on the social media sites enjoy, it is something unique that plays to pop culture. At the time this ad was released, The Walking Dead was at the height of its popularity. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this particular social media campaign.
How to Promote Successfully
ExactTarget’s Audience Growth Survey offers some interesting insight that can help businesses utilize social media to promote more effectively.
Since people are more likely to respond to promotions sent via e-mail, social media can be utilized to collect emails for list growth. Although there may only be a 45% signup rate on social media, the cost for converting Facebook leads into subscribers tends to be very low compared to other methods, such as inbound sales calls or in-store promotions.
Another idea is to promote special content on social media that people will find interesting, but require email registration to access that free content.
The Audience Growth Survey also looked at how many companies use bloggers and influencers to help promote their brand. About 33% of companies use this tactic and it has a 56% effectiveness rate.
Rethinking Your Social Media Strategy
Keeping in mind that people get on social media to make a connection, here are some additional things you can do that will put your social media marketing strategy ahead of others who are simply self-promoting on these sites. There are some different theories that will help you as you work on how to engage your social audience.
This rule is credited to TA McCann and is based on every 10 Facebook posts, 10 Tweets, etc. The theory simply states that:
Five posts should be content from others that your audience will find of interest. This can be images, funny quotes, interesting articles, etc.
Three posts should be unique content from the company, but not anything that sells your product. Instead, these might be interesting insights, facts readers will find interesting or just a personal greeting.
Two posts can be personal and should not be related to work or business. For example, “Our secretary Marla just had twin girls. Congratulations, Marla. Welcome to the world Mary and Kary.” A picture would help set the tone.
Notice how the posts are not selling a product. That just isn’t the best use of social media for your business in most cases, although the occasional promotional offer is okay. The focus here should be on the word “occasional”.
Rallyverse suggests taking a 30/60/10 approach to social media marketing.
30% should be content created by you and owned by you. This can include links to posts on your blog, photos, videos and slides. 30% keeps you from just talking about yourself all the time. Remember, that this content should not be blatantly self promotional in nature.
60% should be content you gather from other sources. This can include articles from others, quotes, news stories and so on. However, and this is vital, you must include your own viewpoint on this borrowed content. What do you think about that news story that broke today? Keep in mind that it is best to steer clear of topics that might be controversial. You want to gain followers, not alienate them.
10% should be promotional in nature. These are your Call to Action posts. Examples would include: “Sign up for a free trail”, “Subscribe to our newsletter”, or “20% off today only”.
Michael Hyatt suggests the 20-to-1 rule as a good approach for social media content. Michael Hyatt points out:
“Twitter and Facebook are relational tools not transactional tools.”
With that in mind, he suggests that 20 posts should be related to others and only one post to your business.
So Many Theories, But Everything Comes Down to One Idea
There are many theories about how often you should post, what times of day you should post, how much you should focus on Call to Action statements and how often you should share posts from others. However, what it all boils down to is that you should be more focused on what your audience is interested in and how you can relate to them than how you can promote yourself and your business.
If you approach social media as a person, make friends and interact with others, then your social media promotions will go much better than if you just throw a bunch of product information at your followers and friends.
Article by Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.