About five years ago I talked to a District Attorney who spent a lot of time talking to high school students about the dangers of drug usage. It was a passion of his and it allowed him to gain a great understanding of how teenagers communicated with each other online. He told me something (again, this was in 2011 or 2012) that surprised me. He said “The kids I talk to have left Facebook and they’ve moved to Snapchat.” Now fast forward 5 years and it seems like within the last 6 months every marketer on the planet has suddenly ‘discovered’ Snapchat. It’s the hot shiny social media tool of the moment, even though it’s been around for years. The next Instagram, maybe even the next Facebook depending on who you talk to.
But let’s go back to that revelation from 5 years ago that ‘the kids have left Facebook’. Why? What caused these teenagers to shift their behavior away from Facebook and move to Snapchat?
In short, it’s because their parents were getting on Facebook. If you want to push teenagers and millenials off a social media site, then add either their parents, or marketers on the site. And what was happening 5 years ago?
Marketers everywhere were telling us that we had to be on Facebook. Now fast forward 5 years, and what are marketers telling us today? That we have to be on Snapchat.
Marketers have never understood that it’s not about understanding the social media tools, it’s about understanding the people using the tools. The only way to understand the people using a tool is to be a part of the community of people that use that tool. You have to interact with them directly to understand their motivation for being there.
Marketers typically don’t want to ‘waste their time’ with that, they just want to sell.
You can only sell to someone that is ready to buy. Seems like common sense, but too many companies market their products to potential customers that have no idea how those products fit into their lives. It would be like marketing a surfboard to someone that has never surfed.
If a potential customer has no interest in a surfboard, then you don’t market the product (surfboard), you market how the product fits into the customer’s life (surfing). Once you’ve sold the customer on surfing, then they are ready to buy a surfboard.
At that point, it makes sense to shift to product-specific marketing that focuses on the surfboard. But if I have never surfed and have no idea why I would ever want to, selling me on why I need to buy your surfboard is a complete waste of time and money for you.
When you’re crafting your content strategy focus on these key points:
1 – It’s more important to understand your customer than it is social media tools. You don’t need to understand Snapchat, you need to understand IF and WHY your customers would use these tools. That gives you insights into how you can use the same tools in a way that creates value for them, instead of distraction and irritation.
2 – If your goal is to leverage social media to build awareness for your business, then you want to create content focused on how your product and services connect with your customer. Create content focused on surfing, not the surfboard. Create content focused on safe driving, not your auto insurance policy. Creating content focused on the connections between the customer and your products helps get their attention.
3 – If you know your customer is ready to buy your product, then you can create product-specific content, because that’s what they want and need at that point. But if they aren’t ready to buy, then sell how you product fits into their lives, sell the product itself when they are ready to buy.
Sell me first on how your product makes my life better, then I’m ready to buy, and you can sell me your product.