When I last finished my last post I probably left you with the impression that Facebook/Social Media ads are useless. Much like your Social Media strategy, that impression was wrong because you read something into my post that wasn’t there. This is the danger of brief on-line posts, isn’t it? The entire point of my post was to tell you that if you’re starting with ads rather than building towards them, they are useless. In fact they are even worse than useless, they’re annoying. I’m sure GM figured this out and they’re pulling their ads to research how they can be deployed better, rather than just wasting money on something they don’t understand. That’s very smart. In this part, I’ll give you some insight on how to make them actually work.
The insight is really pretty simple and it’s this: stop talking and start listening. I know this is hard because you’re all running around wanting to do something, anything, so you can give people like me that weekly report showing a positive-sloped line every Monday morning but – seriously – just stop it already. I know what your reports are telling me and I also know there’s no good way to correlate the money you’re spending on those ads with that graph you want to show me. How about, instead, you tell me how many new people are talking about us this week? Who’s joined the conversations? How much social capital do these people have? How are you going to keep them engaged with us? How are you going to translate all of this into new or continued business?
Now there’s the $64M question, isn’t it? How do you make all of this translate into business? I have a better question that’s worth more money: How are you going to translate all of this into happy customers, because happy customers keep buying and happy customers talk about your company to people who are looking for a similar product. Again, the answer is very, very simple: Listen. These engaged people are going to tell you what is wrong with your product, what is great about your product, and how to improve your product, all for free. They’ll do it in a nice way too, not in angry screeds because they know you’re actually and honestly listening.
Let’s go back to my notional (and fabulous!) cocktail party at SXSW from Part 1. If you’re standing there, and all you’re doing is talking (unless you are exceptionally charming and witty like me J), are you going to have a large and varied conversation going? Or are people going to stay for 3 minutes, listen to you blather on, look at their watch or cell phone, and then slip away? If you interrupt their conversation to tell them about your product, are you going to interest them or annoy them? If, however, you’re listening, talking on topic, and engaging the other guests, what will happen even if people don’t know you?
Why do you expect this to be different on line? Human nature is, after all, human nature. If I wandered by and listened and talked to you for a while you monopolized the conversation in a very salesy way, and I didn’t know you, do you think I’d start asking people who you were? Do you think I’d want to know what your company did?
So let’s bring this back to why your strategy is wrong. Social Media isn’t about discovery; it’s about ENGAGEMENT, that’s why it’s SOCIAL. It’s the party where people are having conversations, sometimes lots of them at the same party all on different aspects of a common topic. It can happen in all sorts of places online, Facebook being just one of the more prominent ones. But it can also happen on blogs, in forums, over Twitter or in the comments section of traditional media articles (just ignore the Yahoo commentary if you want to keep your sanity). And just like at a party, you can’t talk to everyone deeply so you have to decide where to spend your time and with whom. If you’re smart (and I know that you are), you will want to be sure you give some attention to the people that matter, but you also want to give attention to the people that you know might matter in the future, or to your customers themselves. Welcome to our product’s raison d’être. We show you all of that information in one place so you don’t have to spend (a lot of) time to find these conversations yourself.
So if you’ve engaged people, and they are thinking about using a product and the name of the product is familiar to them, what about those ads we began the article talking about. You know, the ones I was discussing when I stated that what you thought I was saying about Facebook was wrong? Suddenly people notice those ads that were ignored or invisible because they are familiar with the name, and they’ve already had pleasant experiences interacting with the people behind the product. You’ve talked to me at that party and now when you’re talking to the product guy I’ve handed you over to. You remember how much I engaged you and impressed you at the party. So the ad reinforces the experience, NOT the other way around. Is that measurable? Not in the conventional sense, perhaps, but it’s effective isn’t it?
I would be willing to bet that this is GMs strategy. To look at what sort of engagement works, and then to use ads and target them based on the behaviors they observe as they look at the interactions they have on these platforms. That’s certainly a better strategy than just doing the equivalent of a bulk mail and hoping for the best. To tune the dollars they are spending so that they’re spent wisely.
Now they’re doing what this post is about: LISTENING. Only then will they form a strategy based on their observations and customized for each particular party because every party is different. They are not approaching this based upon what some pundits are telling them, nor by guessing, nor by thinking that they know who their “influencers” are because, as I can show you from millions of posts, “influencers” are not always (or even usually) who you think they are.
In part 3 I’ll dig into the topic of “influencers” more. Specifically, I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong about the people that actually cause action, and explain why. Then I’ll tell you how to have a successful party, and how to keep the party going long after it’s ended.No Comment