I read a statistic recently that said “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” That’s a crazy stat! How can a business succeed at content hungry social media and not be drowned out by all of the high content producers? And how can they be original since, after all, there’s nothing new under the sun?
Not all content is created equal. What people ultimately respond to is the same now as it was in the time of Shakespeare: humans respond to the elements of story. If you know how to tell a good story and connect authentically at an emotional level with your target audience, you have won the war against the big guns.
So how do you come up with these stories? Especially since successful company blogs post almost everyday. I’ll let you in on the secret source of unlimited content: PEOPLE.
The beauty of God’s creation is that no 2 people are the same. Every person we encounter represents a different personality, a different upbringing, different perspective. Each person has a story unique to them. I mean, why do you think reality shows are so popular? Because you can’t make that stuff up. It’s all about people’s real authentic lives that we can relate to, and it constantly captures our attention. Every customer of yours has a unique experience with your brand. The trick is harvesting that ripe content.
So how do you harvest that ripe content? You start by doing the most important task in using social media: LISTEN. You can’t hear people’s stories if you’ve got your fingers in your ears and are just broadcasting your message. Instead, listen first. Ask questions and genuinely care about the answers. Get to know your customers. Once you’re listening, then you can identify the stories… The customers who consistently sing your praises, the unique sub cultures that make up your community or target audience, the experiences that your customers have with your brand.
Some examples to get you thinking this way…
If you’re a coffee shop, who are your regular customers? What are their favorite drinks? What brings them to the coffee shop on a regular basis? You could harvest this content by asking people if you can share their story. Example: A regular comes in and orders their regular drink…you ask them if you could snap a photo of them with their favorite drink, maybe even give it to them for free or at a discount for their trouble. Then, instead of broadcasting your message on your Facebook saying “Come in and try our Chai Latte” (which is boring and self promoting) you could say “Meet one of our regular customers, Joe, he stopped by this afternoon to enjoy his favorite drink, the chai latte. Thanks for coming in Joe!” See how that went from a stale marketing message to a social, engaging human story?
If you’re a retail store, restaurant, or other company where customers have a lot of facetime with your employees, consider posting profiles or short bio stories about your employees. For example, I go to the Ace Hardware store by my house about 4 times a weekend, I kid you not. There’s a sweet old man who sees me coming from a mile away and is always there to answer all of my stupid questions. I would definitely be interested in hearing his story and how he has come to know everything about home improvement. So instead of broadcasting a message like “Ace is the helpful hardware store:, you can say “Meet one of our helpful salespeople John. His first project was a treehouse with his dad, and since then he has tackled many home improvement projects. If you have a question about your project needs this weekend, come visit John.”
Ask for stories, and then follow up. Use social media to ask customers to share their stories. That way it’s them sharing, not you, which adds another layer of authenticity. And don’t just stop there. Ask questions, give encouragement, provide solutions to their problems, or just acknowledge their story and thank them for sharing. Sticking with the example of Ace Hardware, you could post on Friday “What home improvement projects are you working on this week? Do you have any questions for our experts?” This gets people sharing and asking questions, but don’t just stop there. On Monday morning, ask people how their projects went and see if they will even post photos of the finished product.
So what are your customers stories? What are some ways in which you have found to discover them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!