Social Media Is Changing But Your Customer Isn’t

instagram-food-pictures-photos-meals-confession-ecards-someecardsCompanies know the importance of Social Media and are constatnly being told that they need to be there. They know that they can ‘increase conversions’ and make more sales by using Facebook, Twitter etc. It is more than understandable, if you have a company your main objective all the time is to sell and make margin. However, Social Media is not the place to do this.

Humans are social creatures, we’re nosy, full of gossip, curtain twitching and itching to know more about each other, good or bad.

Ultimately companies are missing the entire point of what social media is and it seems that even the social media companies, in some cases, are loosing sight of why their audiences are there. Humans are social creatures, we’re nosy, full of gossip, curtain twitching and itching to know more about each other, good or bad. This is where we are loosing sight, companies are doing social and forgetting to be social.

Each social media platform has it’s own individual culture and it’s own set of rules. These cultures and rules are what makes a person choose one platform over another. Just as one person may enjoy drinks in the pub, where another person may prefer a wine bar.

The latest statistics from IPOS MRBI tell us Instagram, is slowly ramping up in popularity where as Facebook is stagnating. A lot of this has to do with cultures.

Social media usage Ireland for Jan 2017
Social media usage Ireland for Jan 2017

Facebook was once a place of babies first steps, sky dives, awesome dinners, less than glamorous nights out – then it had to graduate, sober up, leave the party and get a job. Facebook’s efforts at first were good adding the ‘Like’ button, then the ‘Share’ button followed by advertising, business pages and more and more ways to generate revenue. Everyone jumped on the band wagon, some companies have got it so right, others are missing the point entirely. Now we see Facebook flooded with ‘buy now’, ‘like and share to win’, ‘look at this product’, more and more posts trying to sell us something or get us to do something for them. It is short of looking like Vegas with flashing signs saying ‘pick me’!

Users are enjoying this promo free playing field and are starting to prefer it to Facebook

Instagram, though owned by Facebook, has an entirely different culture, led in part by the platform and also by it’s users. We know it’s mainly used for image sharing, it does not support live links in posts and it’s hard for a company that is not visually focused to function well on it. It is an idealistic culture, sharing photos for visual pleasure, daily posting is more than enough and hashtags are used sparingly. The vast majority of companies don’t quite understand Instagram and don’t know how to leverage for financial gain. Users are enjoying this promo free playing field and breathing in the clean air.

So what should you be doing to help leverage these platforms correctly? The first thing is you need to do is, worry less about the sale and begin to worry about the dialogue. Your customers are interested in your industry, your knowledge and what you have to say.

I’m going to use the relatable example of a coffee shop. Begin sharing your knowledge, you should try to blog about where your coffee comes from, how to make a better brew, the difference between French press and filter etc. You also need to share information around your topic. There are others blogging and sharing news out there that are horizontally aligned with your industry, for example beers brewed with coffee, sustainable cup manufacturers and awesome cups designs. Finally your imagery; take photos of your staff working, your fun customers, deliveries arriving and your participation in local events.

These type of posts, coupled with other clever ideas encourage a dialogue. This is where your sales lie, not in promotion but in the conversation your company has with it’s potential customers. You create a personality around your brand, your customers begin to see you as relatable and approachable. Once you acknowledge your customers likes, shares, comments and begin chatting with them. This dialogue is what builds customers, conversions and advocates.

You can promote your wares, but you need to be clever about how. It’s 80 per cent social and 20 per cent promotion. If you do any more promotion your just the annoying dude at a party handing out business cards.