Notice to companies using social media for marketing: Stop trying to engage me. I’m not interested. Instead, take a tip from author and super salesman Don Sheehan, “Shut Up and Sell”.
With the advent of social media there has emerged a demi-industry of “teaching” people how to market using social media. It’s bunk. The truth is social media is so new and dynamic no one knows how to wield it most effectively for marketing and if they did, they wouldn’t sell that knowledge in a hundred dollar webinar.
What we do know are the basics of what works in sales, and those basics work across all media. Media has changed. People haven’t. Most marketers forget their end goal is as simple as selling to people. Whether that is putting your tomatoes on a vegetable stand in downtown Beirut or posting a photo of your products on Facebook, the rules are the same. Shut Up and Sell. Focus on your brand. Show your products. Ask for the sale.
The mistaken idea that brands and companies ought to “engage” on Facebook comes from a common quark of human character transferred to brand management: Ego-centricity. Many Facebook “marketers” view their Facebook contributions in a vacuum. They think their post is the only one “friends” and potential “Likes” will see. They think the people who “Like” them will be so thrilled with an attempt to “engage” them they will surrender a fragment of their precious (and fleeting) attention span. Wrong. The time-tested principles of sales show that neither works nor contributes on the bottom line. It does waste a lot of time though, time you could be selling.
Picture this: A man is seated in the middle of Grand Central Station. The normally packed station is abandoned. He sits in solitude. Suddenly, you walk in and “engage” him. He devotes his full attention to you. That’s not reality. Grand Central Station is never empty. It is a chaotic throng of people, lost and looking, busy and on task- just like social media. They do not want to engage. They want a quick peek and to be on their way. Now, walk up to that same person in the crowded, real world setting and try to “engage” them. They are annoyed by you.
The high discretionary income Facebook users most marketers crave are sophisticated enough to know they are talking into a hole if they respond to hollow “engagement”. The brands and companies posting open-ended Facebook posts like, “Dave Morgan won Olympic Gold today, what do YOU think of Dave Morgan’s victory?” are getting responses from people who have little better to do than post on Facebook. The real consumers are busy earning discretionary income and spending it, hopefully as fast as they can. They don’t waste time “engaging”. They see something. They want to know about it. They either buy it or they don’t.
How do the most profitable (key word there; profitable) Facebook users look? Here are two:
Secrets in Lace is a niche lingerie brand that sells retro-themed women’s apparel. Dan Whitsett started the company in 1984. Whitsett had a singular and focused market vision. His company faultlessly executed that laser-beam focus in their social media. They have 22,000+ fans and the only thing they post about is their products. All their photography is professional and original, no “copy and paste” images on their Facebook page. Their Facebook pages have the same look and feel as their website and print catalog. The message is consistent. They only show their product. They only promote their product.
Bay area entrepreneur Patrick Ma didn’t just found a company, he founded a category. His company, Triple Aught Design, designs tactical/military inspired outdoor gear. Ma is widely attributed with the invention of the “tactical softshell” jacket, a category now embraced by mega-brands like The North Face and Arcteryx. His 15,000 Facebook fans are served a weeky menu of product “teasers” that provide hints to what new products will be released every Friday. They usually sell out in less than three hours. In a strange quirk of social media some Triple Aught Design customers rant about short supply of new product. Ma lets the rants run, understanding this is the best “call to action” for brand fans there is. It is the advertising you can’t buy.
There are many other good brands wielding social media effectively and their key link is narrow brand focus, product focus and asking for the sale. Facebook and social media “marketers” need to remember the metrics that count on the bottom line. They aren’t “Likes” or number of fans, they are sales results. A bank deposit slip doesn’t have a box on it for “Likes”.