Six Ways to Throw Your Audience a Curveball (in a Good Way)

Throw your audience a curveball This is a guest post by Garrett Ira, a digital marketing strategist who blogs at garrettira.com.

Over the last few years, just about everyone has given their two cents on how to “do social media” the right way. You know what I’m talking about: connect with your audience, add value, it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and over.

Something has happened that few are ready to admit: companies have gotten much better at social in 2011. Yes, there are still plenty of companies doing it terribly, but if you compare the present day to two years ago, there’s a huge difference.

Now that (some of us) have our heads on straight, the question transitions from “how do we do this the right way?” to “how do we do this differently than everyone else?”.

Here’s the problem: if you’re constantly asking the same questions, distributing content at the same times, refusing to take risks and fitting in with the crowd, you’re going to lose. Here are six simple ways to get the ball rolling in a fresh new direction.

1. Post in the evenings and on weekends

How many businesses post content around 11:00PM? Probably about zero, and that presents an opportunity for you. The vast majority of businesses post content during the work day, between 9:00AM and 5:00PM. Do you think your audience uses social media at 5:00AM, 7:30PM, or 10:54PM? Yes, they do – but no one posts at that time.

The benefit here is obvious: start posting when others don’t and your content is more likely to be seen – you have less competition. But there’s another opportunity here: posting at times that you haven’t ever before opens you up to new people. Maybe there’s a hidden portion of your audience that doesn’t use social media due to restrictions at work. Post at unusual times to reach them.

2. Mix up your post tactics

Even if diverse content is included, the average Facebook page is full of posts that look, feel, and smell the same. Each post has 4 lines of copy asking you to visit the link below. Each post has two paragraphs expressing their opinions on a certain subject. Each post uses lots of exclamation points begging you to donate!!

If you keep each post looking and feeling the same, you’re eventually going to put people to sleep. Now is the time to do something different, to say something differently, to get their attention.

Post pictures that REALLY stand out in the news feed. Use bright colors, close-ups of human faces, and images that stir up emotion. Start using ultra-short copy instead of the usual 4 lines. Ask people to fill in the blank or describe a photo in just 1 word. The idea here is to always bring something a little different that they can see quickly and interact without much thought. Remember, you aren’t just competing against other businesses – you’re competing against people and their favorite pets, games, teachers, friends, parents, and everything else in their lives.

3. Stop self-editing

People always say “be yourself” and “be transparent” in social media, but very few people walk the walk when it comes down to it. Are you a little snarky in person? Maybe a bit sarcastic? Don’t be afraid to let it show a little.

While crossing the line is definitely possible, many people and brands have experienced great success by being themselves – even if they might get an earful in the comments.

Gary Vaynerchuk and Donald Trump (love him or hate him) are great examples:

Donal Trump

4. Go Where Your Competitors AREN’T

This is a bit of a follow-up to #1. Instead of going head-to-head, why not tap into a new area where your competitors aren’t?

The automatic assumption for most businesses is that they need to get involved in the big 4: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & blogs. While this is probably true, there are often hidden opportunities and niche communities online that can be absolute gold mines, even compared to the big 4.

Do you own a jewelry store with a strong community of wealthy women? Have you thought about tapping into Pinterest, MySpace or forums? It’s a little outside the box and failure is certainly possible, but be willing to fail in the name of innovation. If none of your competitors are there, your customers are, and the platform fits your brand, why not give it a shot with a small investment?

Just kidding about MySpace by the way.

5. Narrow Your Content Focus

Social media can support a number of different business functions. Too often, we try to focus on all of them and end up with mediocre results in every area.

Snickers is a great example of doing it differently. You might expect their Facebook page to be full of contests, promotions, branded partnerships, and other initiatives to achieve every objective they possibly can.

Instead, their page is filled with clever one-liners and snarky statements that fit their brand and support other initiatives in a subtle way. In simple terms, their page is interesting and gets their community of nearly 3,000,000 fans talking.

Snickers

6. Craft content specifically to be shared

Getting people to talk about you to their friends is what social media is all about. Content should be designed specifically for people to share, re-post, and re-tweet. Make your tweets fewer than 120 characters so they can easily be re-tweeted. Create a get-well graphic and ask your fans to share it with a friend who is ill. Include call-to-actions in your very best content to increase shares.

On Facebook, there’s even more reason to provide shareable content: Facebook’s Edgerank (the algorithm that determines what people see in the news feed) prioritizes shares higher than anything else, including comments, likes, or clicks. If a post is shared by lots of people, it has the potential to extend your reach exponentially.

Coke

Here’s the bottom line: don’t embrace the status quo. Take risks. Take note of what your competitors are doing – and run the opposite way.

What do YOU do in social media that most others don’t?

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman

Garrett Ira on SocialMouths Garrett Ira is all about the most effective strategies and tactics in the social media world. He is a Community Manager at Bonfire Social Media and frequently discusses all things social on his blog.

  • Too often people, myself included, are too afraid to be themselves, but I try more and more to be true, because it’s easier, more enjoyable and it’s more likely to set me apart from the pack.

  • Agreed. There’s a big difference between constant self editing and wisely choosing what is/isn’t appropriate for social channels. 

  • Jean

    Thanks for the refreshing advice.  I know I’ve tried to talk with too much of a “business” tone…when I should just be my “snarky” self.  I think we’re afraid if we don’t sound serious enough, we won’t have credibility with our audience.  I agree on the whole self-editing problem…it can really block our authenticity…that and the fear of all those “experts” out there, just waiting to critique every little word posted.  Thanks again Garrett…your advice is the best I’ve seen in awhile!

  • Great tips. I really liked the example of snickers. It’s important to figure out the best way to connect with you audience, instead of just force feeding what you think is best

  • Anonymous

    Love the Snickers example and I’m now going to follow them. I wrote a post about my experiences in what works and what doesn’t on a FB fan page and to a certain extent it seems somewhat brand specific. Although, the Snickers example has blown that out of the water a bit. On my page, the one liners always get the response. On a client’s page that sells grooming products, it’s the images. I’ve been really varying the times I post and that’s helpful too.
    Great post!

  • Thanks Jean – it really is counterintuitive for people. Who would have thought that displaying a flaw or imperfection could actually increase credibility? 

    BTW, Jean is my mom’s name. Right on. 

  • I agree, you don’t know anything until you’ve run a test and taken some risks. Thanks Derek! 

  • Exactly, figuring out what works & constantly testing tactics is definitely the key to success on FB. General tips aren’t so great because you have to make assumptions about very different brands. 

    It’s also important to separate the success variables (timing, content, post tactics) when running tests. If I switch up the timing of my posts but also switch up the type of content at the same time, I won’t know what caused the differing result.

  • Dani

    I found this quite useful! I find FB sort of boring ( bad word I know ) because I’m having a hard time figuring out what to post in regards to my business. This will help me out tons as I really dislike being just like others. I want to be totally unique and creative!

  • Dustin DeTorres

    Awesome post Garrett.  People thinking outside the box in Social Media are, a lot of the time, thinking very similar to other people that are thinking outside of the box…which ends up being similar and ultimately….inside the box……fewwwww…..that was long.  Thanks for your knowledge!

  • Ha, I never thought of it that way. I guess we need in terms of double (or is it triple?) reverse psychology. 🙂 

  • Here’s the bottom line: don’t embrace the status quo. Take risks. Take
    note of what your competitors are doing – and run the opposite way.

  • Maybe there’s a hidden portion of your audience that doesn’t use social
    media due to restrictions at work. Post at unusual times to reach them.
     

  • You know what I’m talking about: connect with your audience, add value,
    it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and
    over.

  • You know what I’m talking about: connect with your audience, add value,
    it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and
    over.

  • Something has happened that few are ready to admit:

  • connect with your audience, add value, it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and over.

  • You know what I’m talking about: connect with your audience, add value,
    it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and
    over.

  • Now that (some of us) have our heads on
    straight, the question transitions from “how do we do this the right
    way?” to “how do we do this differently than everyone else?”.
     

  • Something has happened that few are ready to admit: companies have
    gotten much better at social in 2011. Yes, there are still plenty of
    companies doing it terribly, but if you compare the present day to two
    years ago, there’s a huge difference.
     

  • You know what I’m talking about: connect with your audience, add value,
    it’s about relationships, and all the other advice we hear over and
    over.

  • Yes, there are still plenty of companies doing it terribly, but if you
    compare the present day to two years ago, there’s a huge difference.

  • Suzettes

    It could reverse more and go for the other side:)

    http://ruleta.pariurilive.co

  • perri korbal

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    http://www.locksmithforauto.com