Social Media Outside the Box

Just fill in the box: the status update, the tweet, click post, and you’ve got free advertising for your business. That’s how it seems. But advertising is advertising, and today’s audience is conditioned to recognize a sales pitch for what it is, and then mostly tune it out.

Alexandra M is a 5-star writer at WriterAccess

Alexandra M is a 5-star writer at WriterAccess

If you are the larger company that is proud of your current web presence, with a blog and website, are you using social media simply as a tool to promote your existing content? This isn’t a bad thing necessarily. So many digital consumers use Facebook or Twitter for de facto RSS feeds to follow their favorite blogs. And if you’re a small company that hasn’t gotten around to putting up a full-fledged website then maybe you’re using Facebook as your de facto webpage. That’s a great measure for right now, but is it all business details like telephone number, opening hours and specials?

The Tale of the Pizza Loving Plumber

Here’s a little story to illustrate the inherent problem with using social media strictly to promote your business and the value of looking beyond the expected. Let’s say you have an excellent plumbing company. I’ve hired you and I couldn’t be happier with your services. Your plumbing company has a great website, with a blog filled with posts about all sorts of helpful plumbing related information. That’s actually how I found you originally. I googled plumber and the name of my town. Your website popped up. It seemed professional, you really seemed to know what you were doing from that blog, and just to be sure, I crowd sourced my Facebook friends and asked if anyone had ever heard of you. One friend I hadn’t seen in a decade wrote back, yes, they’re reliable and a fair price. That was good enough for me, and I’ve been happy with your company ever since. Your company doesn’t really need me to keep checking the blog. You’ve already got me as a loyal customer. I’m probably not going to follow the company’s Facebook page. If you were my cousin, sure, I’d want to support you, but I don’t really need updates on the world of plumbing. My sink’s not working, I know who to call. The most engagement your plumbing company is going to get from me on social media, is that now if someone asks about you, I’ll chime in that you’re great.

But if this plumbing company could get me to follow their Facebook page, two really wonderful things would happen. One is that the plumbing company would now have access to post ads and sponsored posts for a small fee (as little as $5) that are specifically targeted to my Facebook friends. Then, when one of my Facebook friends sees the post, needs a plumber, and asks for references, the plumbing company has a guaranteed word-of-mouth happy customer who will vouch for them.

The second wonderful thing that happens is related to how to get me to follow the page. And this is the tricky part. I’m not into DIY construction, I don’t care about the best way to snake a drain, I’m just not interested in content related to plumbing. What if the plumbing company used their page as not just a means to spread content related to their own specific business and industry. What if in addition to owning the plumbing company, you also have a passion for pizza? And you use Facebook not only to promote your company and your blog’scontent, but also to talk about your pizza passion. You repost funny memes about pizza, leave positive reviews for your favorite pizza restaurants, organized and sponsoredcommunity based charity around pizza parties, share your favorite home cooked pizza recipes and cooking videos, and post links to great journalism on pizza. You could talk about the pizza parlors of the world that you dream ofone day visiting, and when you go on vacation you can post pictures of the exotic pizzas you encountered.

Todor Tsvetkov/Getty Images

Todor Tsvetkov/Getty Images

I may not be interested in plumbing, but I do love pizza. And even if I wasn’t a huge pizza fan, the sheer novelty of a pizza-loving plumber, the infectious passion it turns out my plumber has for pizza combined with your use of pizza to help do good things for the community are all factors that are going to make it that much more likely that I’ll follow the page. So here’s the second great thing that can happen. As a pizza fan myself, I might find a comic about a block of mozzarella talking to a tomato so hilarious that I just have to share it with all my friends. And when I do, that post, with your business’ name on it will be broadcast to all of my friends’ feeds. That’s free advertising worth its weight in gold, but it didn’t come from having great content about plumbing, it came from having great content about pizza.

What Does This Mean for Your Business

While this is a silly example, for many businesses, there is a lot of room to use humor and light-heartedness in crafting a personality. Other businesses do not have this option. It is vital that they maintain a level of seriousness at all times. However, this does not mean that a company in the healthcare industry cannot still diversify its content. Being able to have engaging original content combined with diversified curated links on social media is one of the most powerful ways to reach a wider audience, whether this is done through content that is informative or entertaining.

As Seth Godin explains, “Anil Dash has discovered that having ten times as many Twitter followers generates approximately zero times as much value. The goal shouldn’t be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen. Don’t need a bullhorn for that.”

What you do need, however, is a great story. One that is authentic and followed up with great content regularly. Once you get started, the possibilities are endless, as is the potential for growth. If you have the time to invest into creating social networks based on diversified content, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, WriterAccess has both content strategists and writers skilled at creating passion-driven, authentic and engaging stories that can take your business to entirely new places.

5-Star writer Alexandra M, freelance writer and content strategist for the last eight years, is a highly skilled writer, editor, proofreader and researcher. From an educational background based in English literature and poetry, she brings a deep understanding of the artistic use of language at its most basic level.

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