The secret to social media

By Tom Dougherty

The secret to social media is essential, and so is the story

secret to social mediaIs there a secret to social media? I’m sure there is, but I’m not confident it is a well-kept secret. And the reason is straightforward— ignorance. And, I am using the word ignorant specifically. We ignore what we know.

Marketers believe the secret to social media is connecting with customers. They see it as a relatively inexpensive form of advertising. And this is true. Hire a relatively inexpensive social media manager and have them post every day.

And make sure they post the content everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, Linkedin, TikTok, YouTube, and the list goes on and on).

I challenge that “secret to social media.”

secret to social mediaAnd I challenge it on two flawed assumptions. The first is a general challenge, and the second a specific one. Call me and I’ll tell you why.

My first challenge is to stop being process-driven. As John Wooden (your folks posting your social media don’t even know who he was) once cautioned, “never confuse activity with accomplishment.”

As a brand strategist, I get brands to be purposive and not processive. All that asks (and I guess that is the secret to social media in some small part) is to carefully look at why you are posting.

secret to social mediaThat is a different question than how often you post. A process-driven brand thinks the secret to social media is repetition. If not the same message over and over again, at least post something all the time.

It is a page out of the media director’s handbook circa 1985. “The secret to social media (I added the “secret to social media part”). Is a combination of reach and frequency.”

They had some archaic formula for GRP  (gross rating points) and later TRP (target rating points) that processively predicted the commercial success. Well, that was the story at the time

The idea was to reach the greatest universe of the target market and repeat the message to them. It was known as reach and frequency.

Get real

secret to social mediaTalk about being process-driven? This numerical model does not even consider the importance of the message. Its core concept sees relevancy as an afterthought.

Remember when everyone said the secret to social media was personalization? The promise was to create incalculable numbers of messages, and by use of social media, algorithms target individuals in an economical way.

Once again, the promise was more significant than the outcome. It doesn’t work as effectively as believed. The reason is SPAM filters. Not the SPAM computer, phone, or tablet. I’m talking about our personal SPAM filter—the one we cultivated in our brains.

It never requires an update or refresh. It just keeps on learning.

The secret to social media is bypassing SPAM filters

secret to social mediaYou swamp your customers (and, more importantly, your prospects, but we will get to that in a moment) in messages. So does every other brand that covets that target audience. 10s of thousands of messages a day.

Your customer is not looking to see what is important to them. Instead, they look at filtering out and ignore messages they believe are not directly essential to them.

You may accurately say your customers spend more energy and time ignoring ads than reading them.

That’s the world in which they live. And in that statement lies the secret to social media.

But first, I want to address a bigger issue

Are you looking to defend your business or grow it? If all you want from your marketing efforts is to retain current customers, the secret to social media is to keep on doing what you are doing.

secret to social media

My company is Stealing Share. So if you’re reading this post, I think you have other goals than retention. You must target prospects.

So let’s examine the 1950’s media director’s bible again and challenge it. If you’re looking to steal market share, reach is more important than frequency.

How is that possible? By crafting a message so emotionally intensive, they can’t SPAM it. Your goal must be to say something so emotionally powerful and straightforward that they remember it in a single viewing.

The secret to social media is emotion. And that emotion must be acute. It must provocatively implant your brand message in the brain. It needs to be so blindingly intense that it is a permanent tattoo.

At Stealing Share, we created a behavior modeling process to find that emotional intensity. And brands that look to steal share need to tattoo that message on their foreheads too.

That way, it is never forgotten or overlooked. Incorporate it in every single social media post, video, or photograph of your brand posts.

Back to the flawed secret to social media

secret to social mediaOnce you plant your brand’s emotional dart in the prospect’s forehead, your reach is successful. But now you need them to notice your social media ports. But, did you ever think that it would be better to have them look for it?

It is an achievable goal. And that secret to social media has been staring us in the face.

The brand narrative

secret to social mediaNo doubt you have heard of brand narrative and misunderstood it like most things having to do with rebranding or brand.

At its core, the brand narrative is the brand’s story. It is the story your brand must convey. And like all stories, there is a formula.

It must contain characters, a specific setting, a plot, a conflict, and a resolution.

Social media cries for a good story. But, I’ll bet you don’t have one. I’ll bet most social media posts look like what the ad agencies call a one-off. It stands alone, selling a single-minded proposition.

You must do more

Using the characters in your brand narrative and creating the setting and conflict— build a social media story with a continuing resolution.

secret to social mediaYour target market is binge-watching. Listening to podcasts and generally looking for A GREAT STORY.

Take a stab at thinking about social media posts like a better and bolder form of 1940 radio serials.

Be creative. I think that is the secret to social media today. Create a narrative where your prospects are actively searching for your next posting. It will increase the brand’s market share.

And here is another thing it does; it builds loyalty. Your customers will look for it too. And they will share it. That’s the secret of social media. Keep it going. Make it social. Call me and we can talk about your brand’s hidden power.

Get the basics right in social media

General rebranding elements to grow market share