Two years ago, a Facebook prank made me stop underestimating the power of the social media. I had read a lot about the Social media's marketing power at the time, but I still took it for granted and certainly didn't exploit it as an entrepreneur, not to its fullest anyway.
A friend had tagged me under the comments in an update on Facebook, and she had said, "Chidike I didn't know you had a twin". The post was the pre-wedding shoot of a couple; the man bore a distinct resemblance to me, though I didn't agree at the time. I and my elder had got into an argument as to whether or not the man in the picture resembled me enough to be mistaken for me.
So as a test, I posted the picture on my Facebook timeline, but I wasn't prepared for the response I got, especially because everybody around me and everybody that knew me hadn't even gotten a suggestion from me that I was getting married
The biggest lesson I learned that day was that social media wasn't just making the world smaller, Social media is becoming the world as we know it. These personal Lessons will help you get just why it is important to do this just right.
1. Engagement requires you to be engaging.
I had a decent following on social media and a ton of friends and friends of friends, but I had no idea how many people actually saw my posts. We tend to rate the level of exposure our social media marketing efforts get by the number of conversions or at least, likes, comments and shares, but this experience taught me how inaccurate that assessment was.
In about 10 minutes after I posted that photo it showed up in all of Whatsapp groups with congratulatory messages, sandwiched in between rebukes of neglect. I received about 15 personal chats and my mother even heard that I was getting married! I was so alarmed that I had to call my fiancee to tell her before she got a call from someone else. The post itself plus my subsequent disclaimer got a deluge of likes and comments.
The lesson is simple -- the social media is very capable of exposing your efforts. The question is, are your efforts engaging enough to precipitate engagement from the silent majority? It was a "eureka" moment for me in my personal business and my consulting for other businesses.
It matters how you say what you say, how it looks and what it sounds like. For instance, a captioned picture tends to do much more for you than a long product description in text format and an animated video with an amazing plot will do far better than a picture. Carefully crafted content from a professional copywriter will do way better than your boring mission statement.
The impotence in social media marketing that many businesses suffer from is not an indictment on social media, it is an indictment on the originator of the marketing effort. If it is engaging enough, it will find engagement. Who doesn't like weddings?
2. All you need to succeed is a dedicated online audience.
I had already built a following that were curious about what I was going to post next, which was usually about a variety of things from business to faith. This is little wonder that when I did post something that many people had been waiting to hear it set off a social media bomb.
This experience taught me that one of the precursors for maximum engagement and subsequent conversions of our marketing efforts was building a dedicated audience that is interested in what you have to say. Businesses make the mistake of making every single post about their product and new innovations in their business. Such efforts are boring to say the least especially to millennials who incidentally are the bulk of social media users.
Social media followers are more likely to engage the marketing efforts of a business that has previously shared moving opinion pieces on the Trump administration's business initiatives, than one who is all about themselves. The reason is clear, this way they feel you are one of them, a personality; which is what all businesses should aspire to be perceived as.
3. Social media's herd mentality.
After my post, I received a lot of friend requests. They usually had a lot to say about my post and how hilarious it was when I posted a funny disclaimer about an hour later. They were thrilled that I had everyone played. Most of them said, "Well, I just came up against this post with hundreds of likes and a ton of comments and I decided to check it out"
Personally, I check out YouTube channels when I see the number of subscribers to it, and I watch YouTube videos when the number of views is impressive. This is the social-media herd mentality -- people naturally go where many people have gone. They will likely trust a product on this basis as well.
This is why businesses have carved out a lucrative business selling instagram likes and followers. The concept of ''trending" or going "viral" is as much a business term today as it is just social media speak.
This may sound strange to many business owners, but the new rules of the game are simple -- you have to look serious to be taken seriously.
4. Tailor marketing efforts to fit social media behavior.
After my prank and the flood of mixed responses I got, I became supersensitive to posts on social media that talked about weddings. I noticed that these posts always got people out of hiding and made them active.
What you make the center piece of your social media efforts should be somehow connected to what you discover from social media chatter. Luckily, today Sentiment Analysis is big and AI is doing wonders in monitoring social media chatter and what people are responding to. Sports, Love ... these are popular issues and you can always use these to your advantage.
Truth is, the social media is like a wave and you are the surfer, you have to get on just right!