People want to see the companies they love at Facebook. I can’t tell you how many clients have admiringly shown me the Facebook page of Tom’s Shoes. They also want the companies they trade with to monitor Twitter and respond to the problems they tweet there. That is, for many of us, the fast way to get help with a product.
People want to be able to find people they’ve just met or read about at LinkedIn, too. They want to find samples of that new band’s music on YouTube, they get excited when their favorite designer talks to them at Ravelry, and they want coupons and perks at their MeetUps.
Also, they hate social media marketing.
Part of this, I think, is the feeling of betrayal we experience when we realize someone has an ulterior motive. You know that nice person you met, with whom you felt you had a real connection until you realized she was trying to sign you up for her multi level marketing scheme?
What consumers really want is for the CEO of a company, or at least their customer service reps, to be hanging out at Twitter in their free time in order to become friends with them, and to care when they have a problem with the company’s products.
In real life, companies hire agencies like Haden Interactive to handle their social media in a professional way. At their Twitter accounts, people from our team represent the company in a way that looks a lot like hanging out and making friends. We care a lot when people have problems with the company’s products — and when they’re excited about those products, too. We may or may not really care about their kids, dates, and dogs, except during the time when we’re paid to do so. We’re human beings, behaving like a human being on behalf of a company, which is not actually a human being.
No wonder people feel confused.
Another part of the love/hate dichotomy is that people love to buy stuff, but they hate to be sold stuff. They want to see the cool new gear, they want to know what it costs, and they want to be able to buy it. They don’t want to see ads or “Buy Now” buttons.
There’s an art to keeping on the right side of the mental line here, which moves around depending on the item and the population. Marketing departments frequently don’t grasp this, which is why there’s so much bad social media marketing going on (hint: ads don’t belong on social media platforms). The presence of intrusive ads in places where people go for relaxation offends people.
Until they get used to it, at which point they stop seeing it unless they feel receptive, which is what has happened at Facebook.
Newer social media platforms like G+ and Pinterest started out feeling like no-promotion zones. But pinning your favorite purse because it’s so cute you want to show your friends is such a small step away from pinning the purse you sell because you want to sell it.
This is a conceptual problem, I think, more than it’s a real problem. Do you wear a sandwich board to Chamber meetings? Do you pass out catalogs in church or the pub where you relax after work? Do you attempt to sell insurance to your guests at the dinner table?
The correct answer to all these questions is no.
Correct use of social media marketing
Think first of customer service. Real customer service offers people things they want, whether that’s useful information, cheery reassurance, or great deals on things they’re looking for. The same things are appealing to your followers on social media.
Next, think of community. If you can provide a feeling of community, people are more likely to follow you, more likely to come back, and more likely to feel good about your practice or company.
This can be as simple as responding to people’s questions or sharing enthusiastically about your neighborhood. For a cause-based organization, it can be as easy as providing a place where people are welcome to argue about the cause — and moderating to keep things from getting out of hand.
Your gym can give people a place to share their progress photos. Your pediatrician’s office can host conversations about babies. Your health and beauty supply company can share boards full of hairstyles. You know what your population finds interesting.
Having welcomed people in, made them feel at home, and entertained them, you can now start sharing great deals. You can offer them discounts. Tell them about upcoming events or specials.
This approach includes the social part as well as the media part. It will inspire more love than hate.