time means holiday party time. Although in celebration of a wedding anniversary, my wife and I attended a terrific party on 11.11.11 (their 11th anniversary – congrats again, Diana and Doug!). Country club setting, liberally-flowing drinks, uniquely prepared and presented food, a live band — and most of all, a chance to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.
It’s this last element listed that sparked in me the notion that social marketing is like a cocktail party (no libations necessary): people gather in a location, most often invited, to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones.
And while they’re there, what do they do?
Tell stories. Relate to one another. Introduce sets of friends to others. Share personal tidbits. Communicate.
Now, consider then what most Brands do when invited to become part of this party.
Offer discounts. Ask to be ‘liked.’ Tell the same selfish story time and again. Never ask about the consumers they’re trying to friend. Shout “buy me, buy me!” Ignore newly make friends in search of new conquests. Never offer anything meaningful to the conversation.
Imagine if a live person acted in the manner of some Brands at a real party – not only would he quickly find himself alone, there would be whispers amongst the other party-goers about what a lout he is, criticizing what he’s done, his boorish behavior.
And that’s precisely what happens to Brands who don’t ‘get’ the social marketing party.
What’s worse, they’ll likely not be invited back to many parties, alienating those friends-to-be.
Contenting Marketing can help your Brand (and you) with the social etiquette of social marketing. After all, if social marketing is a place for friends to gather, engage, re-connect and forge new relationships, then Content must be the language they speak, the driver of longer term ‘friendships’ between consumers and Brands.
- Listen. When at a party, you understand the tone and tenor of conversations by listening first. Find out who is saying what about you, about your competitors, but most importantly, about themselves – what they want, need, desire, aspire to.
- Strategize. Think first about why you’re ‘going’ to this party, what you’d like to achieve. Then do the same for your customers, ask why THEY are there and what their goals are. Ask yourself under what circumstances your customers would like you there….and prepare to deliver on that.
- Plan. Once your strategy is laid out, create a plan of what you’re going to say, to whom, and when. Ask yourself why you, as a Brand, have the credence to offer this content to your customers. And if the party venue changes, you’ll have to change your Content plan. Be consistent, don’t offer a barrage of messages one party and fall silent the next year.
- Be adaptive. The best laid plans…can change like the Midwest weather. If your party is outdoors and it begins to hail, make sure your Content plan is flexible enough to change to reflect the changed context. And if you’re not a meteorologist….go back to step 1 and listen. You’ll hear the forecast.
- Measure. The conversation during the drive home after the party always includes the “how do you think it went?” question. Much easier to answer this if you’ve done steps 1, 2, and 3 – you’ve set up what your objectives were and how they map back to customer goals…these are your KPIs.
- Go back and start again with number 1. A Content Marketing effort in social marketing learns and adapts.
Remember, your Brand has been invited to a party by consumers. And Mom always taught us to bring something to the party – make it Content that engages your customers by being educational, informational, entertaining, and inspirational.
On with the party!