Welcome back you social media guru-in-the-making. So, you’ve got a plan, you can see it in your minds eye… but now lets talk about how to start making this more tangible.

I gave examples, although very brief, in Part 1  of this series, about what kind of content a brand could curate in order to speak to its audience, and offer relevant content to their demographic to keep them coming back. But in order to understand WHAT kind of content you are going to post/share, etc., it is important to understand WHY social media is used and HOW to best leverage it.

Before social media, there was print, TV and radio media. All three of these have been successful advertising mediums as long as they’ve existed. And it’s because they all have one thing in common… there is entertaining, or useful, content that draws the day-to-day viewers (or week-to-week as the case may be) who continually return for their dose of entertainment or information. These shows, these articles, these programs — they are not what pay the bills for the channels they inhabit. They themselves do not make a single, red cent (certain product placements notwithstanding, but I digress). All they are is the attraction. Once the people are there, they are primed and ready to be marketed to.

It’s important to think of social media in a similar way. Think of your Facebook page, your Twitter page, your Pinterest page, your Instagram page, your LinkedIn page, and your blog, as your channels. Your content, the information provided, the interest factor, your point of view, your take on a subject — these are your programs, your articles, your shows. If you can create relevant, unique content, then you can say that you offer something worthwhile to these consumers that will entice them to return, and continue returning indefinitely, which serves you in two distinct, but equally effective ways.

  1. Through this long-form communication with your consumer (whether unidirectional or shared) you can build a rapport, an emotional connection, a friendship, a trust, a “care” factor with your clientele. In Kevin Roberts’ of Saatchi & Saatchi’s book “Lovemarks” he defines this personal relationship with a brand as “Loyalty beyond Reason” meaning that if people have a choice between two (or more) similar products they will choose the one that they have an emotional connection to, or an ingrained trust in.
  2. Once you have a loyal, consistent following, your incorporated advertising and marketing messages will not be falling on deaf ears (or eyes as the case may be) but on a willing consumer who is open and ripe for a message of how they can interact with your product.

To put it in an analogy… if you have a store front, and you open the door for business, some people will meander in and out, sure. But if you put special attention to changing the window dressing to something more and more interesting every single morning, over time people will line up to see what tomorrow will bring. And when the doors open they’ll feel drawn to come in.

As far as what content that is — now that’s more difficult. In fact, I’d say almost impossible to say with certainty. The only effective method of finding out what’s right for your brand is by “trying” things, and monitoring their success (or lack thereof) and tweaking based on how your fans react to the content – including subject matter, shares vs. created, questions vs. polls, time of day, days of the week, etc. Monitoring post performance is a very important step in the long-term process, and I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post about monitoring.

For now, let’s talk about the type of content that a brand might curate. It seems easy to think that a brand could choose a few similar-minded brands (but in different industries, obviously) and just share their content, but there is a major problem with that. If you are a  business brand and you share all CNN Business, Wired and Wall Street Journal info, then I, the consumer, am better off checking those sites themselves, since they are far more rich and offer more information, or like-minded information than you do. So although you are the middleman, you will soon be the outerman.

This is why it’s important to, at bare-minimum, express a different opinion, or to open a discussion about a topic instead of just directly sharing. You should also vary your topics of relevance. Sites used in sharing should vary widely as well, to ensure they become a hub for like-minded information, rather than a conduit for other brands to publicize their message.

But sharing aside, there’s the idea of unique content creation. This is the ideal method of communication, as you can be sure that nobody else is offering what you are. (Hence the “unique” part of that taxonomy). But, what can one say in a unique fashion, and on regular basis? Easy… anything you want! That’s where it gets interesting, and even a little fun. The majority of social media is made up of the mundane day-to-day things that happen, but why? Well, because your mundane may be someone else’s vicarious, 10-second journey into fantasy. Or their 10-second serotonin blast, as I like to call it.

Let’s say you are an independent hotel inSan Francisco. You (or your social media person) also live there. You eat at local restaurants, get your coffee at local cafés, go to local art shows or concerts  you know the ins-and-outs of the city, of the city transportation, insider tricks and tips that most don’t. You also know your hotel, the extra-cool features of the hotel, the best thing on your bar menu. To YOU that’s your day-to-day… it doesn’t seem very interesting… but to anyone looking to travel toSan Francisco? To someone who hasn’t had a vacation in six months sitting at a desk on their lunch break? That’s magic.

Do you run an all-inclusive resort in the Mexican Riviera? I’m sure you think that talking about your lunch on the beach, being totally bored in January with board shorts on in 86 degree weather, another photo of another sunset, or an Instagram photo of that Mango Tilapia you’re having for lunch, again, is mind-numbingly-boring, right? Tell that to the majority of the Northern Hemisphere and you’re suddenly the most interesting, jealousy-inducing human alive. Oh, wait… you’re a brand… even better.

FAN-ONLY DISCOUNTS

Even if your content isn’t a daily serotonin blast in the cerebrum, there is one thing that almost all followers come for — the “Fan-Only Deal.”

The major differentiating factor between how different brands should address this lies mainly in the answer to this: Are you independent or a franchise?

One of the major reasons for this differentiation is because of the ability to give “Fan-Only Deals.” Suffice it to say, due to rate parity structures, the OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) don’t like it if you try and offer any rate lower than they can, and it can result in them removing you from their search engines altogether, and that’s not productive for anyone.

If you fall in this category you can, however, counteract this with “Special Fan-only packages” with added elements (champagne, movie tickets, local attraction tickets, free pizza, whatever) to sweeten the deal… and that is effective. According to surveys, as many as 40% of fans “like” pages for the discounts and deals. So, if you can’t give them a TRUE deal or discount, give them something special that makes them feel like true insiders, and truly special.

OTHER TYPES OF CONTENT

Content on Facebook doesn’t only have to be information. It can also be photos, user-generated photos, coupons for internal services you may have, Pinterest or Instagram integration, RSS feeds, charitable causes, Twitter feeds, video content, etc., and this can all be either referenced on your main wall, or created as a tab.

To explain the building of these tabs would be another 25-part series, so it’s best you leave that to the professionals, or at least contact a company that specializes in tab creation and already has existing templates such as:

SUMMARY / TL;DR

Unique content comes in any form you can create it. From photos of events you throw onsite, to poetry writing contests with the winners getting featured on your website homepage. Anything can used and leveraged for engagement if your fanbase is interested in it. The biggest takeaway, I hope is this: “Engagement should be tied to your brand, should coincide with  your brand values, should parallel your brand persona. But it does not — I repeat — DOES NOT need to be sales messages, fun facts, property photos, etc.  about your brand. This is social media… not a brochure. Entertain them.”

For our next meeting of the minds, we’ll be discussing whether or not a tree falling in the woods makes a sound or not… (Spoiler: The answer is “only if someone is there to hear it…”)

READ ABOUT IT HERE IN PART 3!