Gone are the days when you had 300 followers on Twitter and 100 of them clicked a link you posted. Now, you’d be lucky to get five clicks.
The landscape of social media has drastically changed in the past three years. Websites that began as powerful platforms to spread information have turned into streams congested with marketing jargon, discounts, deals and people's shower schedules. Social media has transformed from an efficient and inexpensive way to use the power of word of mouth, to a virtual mess of a garage sale.
But I still think social media is awesome.
Why? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are completely free services that you can sign up for and use to foster a community of passionate fans and customers. But what people -- business owners, especially -- need to do when using social media is to think outside the box, and create content that’s worthy of sharing. Consider how startups and other businesses got their names in front of customers before the internet, before TV, before radio -- it was pure word-of-mouth interactions, a.k.a. real people talking.
What's one way to do this? At IWearYourShirt, you may know that four T-shirt wearers and myself will don a new company's T-shirt each day of the week. But recently we launched a new campaign called "Group Shirting," where an entire of group of people will wear a company's branded shirt. They'll also share information about the company on social media. This is word-of-mouth marketing blended with social media. It's also something that few brands have ever experienced -- hundreds of people sharing their brand at a time -- which makes it something worth talking about. And getting people talking is of course the name of the game.
We’ve run multiple successful Group Shirting campaigns and most recently ran one for AriZona Beverage Co. with more than 200 participants around the world reaching more than 600,000 people through social media in one week. The Woodbury, N.Y.-based tea maker's Twitter following increased by 10 percent -- adding more than 3,000 followers. And the company's engagement -- that is, real people talking about them -- was up over 500 percent for the week.
The unique thing about Group Shirting is that our community is passionate about T-shirts, about marketing and about helping companies. This didn’t happen over night, though. We’ve been building trust and a highly-engaged community for over three years.
Sit back for a moment and take a look at your business. How can you create a marketing campaign that blends the offline experience with the online one? How can you encourage your community members to spread your message for you and have fun while doing it? Think about the power of word-of-mouth communication and worry less about trying to get new followers or customers. Think about offering something people will want to participate in again and again.
If nothing else, just stop using social media only to ask for followers, likes and views.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Each day at IWearYourShirt, Jason HeadsetsDotCom (formerly Sadler) and a team of four professional T-shirt wearers represent a different company online using an array of social-media sites. Before getting paid to wear T-shirts, he co-owned a web-design company. HeadsetsDotCom is an automotive enthusiast that loves playing Scrabble, watching terrible movies and has been known to dominate a basketball hoop or two. He lives at the beach in Jacksonville, Fla., which gives him the freedom to prance around in T-shirts 365 days out of the year with his Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Plaxico. Follow Jason @IWearYourShirt and Plaxico @PlaxicoTheDog.