Business Small Business

Saturday 21 April 2018

Start Your Own Business: putting the 'social' into social media

Part four of our six-part series with Padraig Staunton

Twitter is a perfect medium for niche products and services
Twitter is a perfect medium for niche products and services

MY favourite TV show of all time is Father Ted. It offers such an insightful window into human behaviour and how the most random of people co-exist in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Father Austin Purcell is a non-descript priest who works in a parish somewhere in Ireland. Father Ted describes him as the most boring priest in the world.

Father Purcell will actively talk about extremely uninteresting topics in a very boring tone. Out of the blue he will randomly change the subject to something completely different, further confusing and annoying his already disinterested audience. He doesn't seem to care if the person he is talking to is engaged with him. He doesn't involve them; in fact he bores them almost to death. And I'm sure that if he tweeted he'd be the most boring tweeter on Twitter.

The point is, if your message is boring, fractured and try-hard, people won't engage. Not only that, they will actively disengage and spread the word that you and your chatter are to be avoided. Genuine conversation leads to engagement. The more interesting the content of the conversation the deeper the connection. The more specific the topic is to "my world" the deeper the connection.

You need to decide where your brand lives within the opportunity scale of niche to generic. Then, and only then, decide what channels are most relevant. The content of the conversation will most likely determine the channel, but don't ever, ever let the channel dictate the conversation.

For example, Twitter is a perfect medium for niche products and services (just look at the global Twitter community around something like craft beers). Instagram or Pinterest can play a key role in the social media strategy for a food service SME as they enable your consumers to share photos of their food.

Facebook can be useful if you want to build a general community around your brand. Facebook advertising allows you to be extremely specific about who you target (gender, age, locations, interests), and you can get a campaign live immediately for as little as a few euro.

What is most important though is to know who you are looking to reach with your message and why. Is it for brand awareness or sales leads? Is it existing customers or potential ones? Because what you say and when you say it depends on 'the why'. Your strategy must determine the conversation, and the social conversation must be relevant.

Dale Carnegie, legendary author of 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' says that in a conversation, one must "be interested to be interesting".

He maintains that "you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you". The same applies for brand communications.

Brands don't make their content go viral, consumers do. You can't make a viral video. You can create awesome content. You can support it with paid promotion, but the consumer will decide whether the content is worth sharing.

Spending budget to support poor content is counter-productive, you're just shining a brighter (expensive) light on the gap between you and your audience.

As much as digital technologies enable an unprecedented level of access to consumers, these people still live in the real world. They want to be inspired by brand communications. So let's commit to being truly interested in the consumer's life and making awesome content that's relevant to them.

Let's use technology to enable a two-way communication. This means listening as well as speaking.

Let's make creativity the backbone of our content, and exploit digital technology to fuel the conversation. Own the idea and earn the conversation. Bravely step out of the mould of a traditional media approach to communications.

Be interested and interesting. Find your brand voice, and start Making Awesome Happen. Because nobody likes a boring person.

Padraig Staunton is Managing Director at Havas Dublin. His agency team specialise in developing clear brand strategy and through-the-line execution. ICSB 2014 is offering two readers of the Irish Independent a chance to win a free ticket to Entrepreneurs Day at the ICSB 2014 World Entrepreneurship Conference (www.icsb.org). Simply send an email to icsbconference@independent.ie, explaining in less than 100 words why you would benefit from attending Entrepreneurs Day. Entries received by 5pm on Monday May 26, will be reviewed for winner selection on Tuesday, May 27.

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