I don’t know whether this last weekend left you drenched or scorched, but it hasn’t exactly been the sort of weather recently which allows you to plan a barbecue much more than about five minutes in advance. However, as I was recently rather optimistically checking that my barbecue is still in working order I got to thinking about how social media really ought to be more like a good barbecue.
What I don’t mean by that is that your social media marketing should be horrendously overdone, taste foul, burn anyone who happens to get close, and cause chronic indigestion for days afterwards. Unlike most of my barbecues.
1. Come Up With A Good Social Media Menu
If you are having a good barbecue then one of the first things you need to make sure you think about doing is offering people a choice. Turning up for a barbecue and finding that the only thing being served is black pudding in a bun is likely to mean that you’ll be leaving hungry, and it is unlikely that you’ll be coming back again anytime soon.
Providing people with a choice and variety is important. There are some who simply won’t touch meat, and who remain firmly committed to vegetarianism, whilst others will go for the traditional and popular things such as sausages and burgers. Others will that take a slightly more offbeat approach and opt for the chargrilled chicken and a heap of salad.
With social media it is generally not advisable to lump everything in one place unless you are completely convinced that your entire audience will be choosing the same as you. So think beyond Facebook and Twitter, and consider other social media marketing opportunities. For business to business links site such as LinkedIn will be advisable, maintaining an active blog which engages people in discussions through commenting is also a powerful and effective choice. Being involved in debates on forums can also spread your message effectively.
Don’t forget that it’s not necessarily all about text either, with video marketing not just a form of advertising and promotion, since it often can result in both debate and discussion. Some people publish podcasts in which they address points, comments and feedback which they have been receiving, which in turn prompt further debate.
I’m not suggesting that you necessarily try everything, since that would almost certainly mean you would have little time to do each the justice it both deserves and requires. But don’t necessarily go for only one or two popular choices. Offer people a menu which is broad enough to appeal to everyone if you expect them to come back again next time.
2. Invite Friends, Not Just Customers
If you invite a whole heap of people to your barbecue, purportedly for a good time, and then you spend almost the entire time pushing your products and services down their throat instead of burgers and hot dogs, they’re likely to experience something of a bad taste. One thing is for certain, you’re unlikely to see them next time you throw a barbecue.
It is the same with social media. If you find you have gathered a good-sized crowd, trying to actively sell your products or services directly to them at almost every opportunity will inevitably turn that crowd away. It’s important to appreciate that social media marketing is not about gathering an avid audience of potential customers, but about creating a network of friends, associates, business partners and interested parties who may well never buy into any of your services, but who may go on to actively recommend you to people who will.
If you have half a dozen friends at a barbecue, and you briefly have a chat with them about a new product you are launching, then you will find you have a straight choice.
You can either become pushy, trying to get your six friends to buy your product, and perhaps you’ll get lucky and find one of them who does, or you could discuss the benefits with them, and ask them politely if they wouldn’t mind spreading the message for you, whilst you in turn agree to recommend any relevant services or products they are able to provide.
In this case you could find that even if just half of your friends manage to pull in two or three sales on your part, you will end up several times better off. Not only that, but you’ll also still have all of your friends, and further opportunities for mutually beneficial marketing in the future.
3. Don’t Overdo The Bread
When your friends come round for a barbecue they don’t expect to find themselves being offered a family sized loaf of bread with a single slice of bacon in the middle. They’re looking for the tasty stuff, not just an unnecessary amount of filler to make it look as though you’re being generous in the amount you’re offering.
It’s the same when it comes to social media marketing. It’s all very well providing good quality, informative and value rich updates and content, but if you end up simply throwing out masses of fairly useless filler then you will likely find that not only will people tend to steer clear and go elsewhere for their meat, but those who do choose to hang around will be far more likely to miss the good stuff in amongst the bread.
If you found this post useful or interesting then please consider sharing it through your choice of social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. If you have any thoughts or comments, either to do with social media marketing or barbecues, please do join in the conversation below!