Using social media has become an indispensable part of doing business today. Many will learn about a product or business there first because it's where people's attention is. But how do you garner a following?
To answer that, we must think not from our work mindset, but from our private one, the one that we're in when we're not in the office. If we think about every social media account that we come across, we all subconsciously ask ourselves the same question:
"Why should I follow you?"
Social media is very different from TV commercials, print ads and other forms of advertising where you pay to force your business content in front of people. It mimics real life social relationships and requires people to make a conscious choice to follow along. It benefits the interesting and fun, and puts the spammy annoying ones at a disadvantage.
Think of it as dating. You need to court someone before asking them out. Too many businesses are introducing themselves on social like "Nice to meet you, be my boyfriend/girlfriend."
It's necessary to provide value on social.
People follow the accounts that do.
"They can be informed about our sales" is not a great value prop to provide on social. People who first come across a brand there are unlikely to care about what kind of promotions are going on if they're not already fans. Getting sales conversions from that promotion is also purely in the business' interest rather than anyone else's, unless demand is greater than the supply.
Think about popular accounts on social. The account with beautiful scenic photos, the travel blogger, the celebrity, the cute guy or girl. Their value is allowing us to escape from our current realities for a brief moment. The account with mouth-watering foodporn, the one with motivational quotes, the fashion blogger. They're all inspiring us or giving us something to take action on. This is value.
Creating interesting media is providing value on social.
One business doing it right is NYC-based electronics shop Adorama, which focuses on photography and videography products. It would be expected that their social media channels would be mainly promoting their sales, coupon codes, and maybe if they're good, educating people about the newest products that they carry.
Instead, they created an online video series called "Through the Lens," a showcase documenting Instagram photographers around the world. With many people already interested in who these photographers actually are, Adorama was able to get their business name out to more people by putting these photographers at the center of their social content.
Businesses must act like media companies now.
A business' role in media used to be in advertising, but now it's transitioned to being on the content side. This is one of the hardest things for businesses to grasp, but all we have to do is take a look at our personal social network use. We get annoyed at accounts that try to sell to us at every turn, and start to think negatively of those who just shove banners and pop-ups in our faces. We follow accounts that give us a reason to follow and share things that we think are interesting.
Rather than thinking about what your business wants to say, do, or sell, think about your fans and potential fans and what they would be interested in seeing from your space. What can you show or teach them, and how can you make it interesting? You want to be the business that puts out content that harnesses peoples' attention, not make them tune you out.