The most unique thing about social media is the freedom users have to share information, whether it’s their own original content or someone else’s. Sharing is hard-wired into the structure of the internet, and as a result, social platforms are built around promoting ideas that people consider “worth spreading.” (Thanks TED.)
It starts with structure.
All mottos aside, an interaction online online is a “vote” of worthiness for a piece of content. Whether it’s reddit’s upvote/downvote system or Pinterest’s repin, every social platform allows users to share, often in multiple ways that allow the user to adjust how much promotion they’re giving the post. What this means for businesses is that their content has to be sharable in such a way that their customers will engage and share it again and again. The odds of any one piece of content being shared are slim, but the odds are much better for a piece of content that’s already been shared thousands of times. The reasons why are varied, one among them is called truth by consensus: if everyone believes it, it must be true, and if everyone’s doing it, it must be the right thing to do. People like to follow the crowd.
One key to sharable content is simplicity. This message rings true throughout all of marketing, but for microblogging, photos, memes, and all the rest, simplicity is what makes virality possible. People only share things they personally identify with. Something they think is funny, or something they would say, or an opinion they agree with. So your content has to be something that many people personally identify with in order to be shared again and again. That often means boiling your message down into something that is easy to understand and agree with.
However, if your market is very homogenous, close-knit, and opinionated, taking a decisive stance on an issue– an inconsequential one, if at all possible– could strike a chord with your audience. Coke managed to do the unthinkable in their 2014 Super Bowl ad: project a simple message that anyone watching would agree with (America is beautiful, patriotism is good) while simultaneously taking a divisive stance (America’s diversity makes it unique and strong) that some disagreed with. This created a hint of controversy with an explosion of support; the perfect mix of media attention for coke
It’s about your customer.
My mother once told me “I think I’ve ‘liked’ something on Facebook one time, ever.” She would rather just tell the person her thoughts on whatever they had to say, or maybe even text or call them about it. Clicking “like” is, to her, unnecessary. To other facebook friends of mine, a “like” is so second-nature that virtually everything a friend posts gets “liked.” People vary in how they use social media so much that any one reblog, share, like, or other engagement says very little about the person’s motives. If you know how your customers communicate (both on and off social media) you can make content that fits the niche of how your customers are already talking.
For a pest control company, social media probably isn’t a priority. Their marketing and sales dollars typically go towards listings on sites like Angie’s List, repeat service, and direct mail ads. Their typical customer is probably a homeowner and quite possibly also a stay-at-home parent. It’s reasonable to assume that the people who want pest control the most are those who spend the most time at home. The same people’s interests probably include decorating, entertaining, online shopping, and other activities done at home. In other words, the customers’ interests relate to where they spend their time.
Suddenly we’re looking at a long list of potential topics to discuss, comment on, and otherwise share with customers. How does a pest control company do this? By being active on the same sites as their customers, where they spend their time. My first guesses as to what those sites are: Facebook and Pinterest. So while social media shouldn’t be the only marketing a pest control company does, it could serve as a platform to interact with their demographic, a place to answer questions, and a way to drive referrals.
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