Social media, when you think about it, is inherently a selfish medium. Users post statuses talking about what they are doing that day. I find videos on YouTube that make me laugh, so I post them so my friends can see how obviously funny I am since I found the funny video. I write notes telling people my opinions. At the core, social media is me sharing things I personally find interesting and broadcasting information about me…since everyone wants to hear about that, right?
For people, we give grace and just assume that is how social media works. For businesses, though, we don’t extend the same courtesy. If a business is on Facebook and only talks about their brand or their products, people will hide them from feeds, unlike, or unfollow them. An ExactTarget study showed that 43% of people unliking a brand on Facebook was because of too much marketing messages.
Social media users are there to connect with friends and family, not a business. So if a business is invading into this personal world, how do they get users to connect and listen to them? Think back to what social media is… a selfish medium. If a business is to connect and engage with a user, they need to give them something. They need to provide value.
A few studies have been done over the past year in regards to this and all point to the fact that users primarily connect with businesses in social media to get something. ExactTarget, in their Social Break Up study, showed that 26% of users reporting liking a business page to take advantage of a one time offer and 24% reported unliking a page because it didn’t offer enough deals. In a social check-in study done by digital agency Beyond, they found across the surveyed early adopters and current non-using consumers that almost 50% of them would check-in to a business to receive a coupon or discount. On top of that, 99% of them do not view getting a badge or becoming the mayor (Foursquare) a good enough reason to check-in. Users want to get something and that something needs to be valuable.
What does “providing value” mean to businesses in social media? In reality, that is something for each individual business to decide. Four of the main ways, in my opinion, are:
- Entertainment – This includes great conversation, videos, audio, podcasts, etc
- Sweepstakes and drawings – The trick is that these don’t have to be huge
- Coupons and discounts – These should be a good discount not available anywhere else
- Provide rewards for actions – Use a service like SCVNGR to give things to users for challenges completed all while promoting your brand
Does this mean that every car dealership out there needs to giveaway a free car to get fans and followers? It would help, but no they don’t. Do restaurants need to giveaway free lunches all the time? It would help, but no they don’t. Businesses simply need to take a look at what they do best and figure out ways to feature that while providing a hook to social media users. The car dealer might have a car wash, so have a drawing for free car washes for the summer. The restaurant may have a free dessert birthday club, so have them sign-up on Facebook.
In the end, it doesn’t need to be super complicated or even a high-cost investment, it just needs to be something to hook a user so they will allow the business to enter their personal, selfish, social media world.