I’ve been hearing a lot lately from Social Media “providers” about content on Facebook: what to do and what not to do. I understand that these companies need to homogenize and scale as best they can so they can keep their inside labor costs to a minimum. However, the customer who is paying for content to be created for them is getting the short end of the stick. Here’s why.
Social Media content, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, your blog or any other platform, is first and foremost a brand-specific, creative endeavor. If it doesn’t attract prospects with unique content that hyper-connects them to you, it will not drive engagement on your page. Sending out messages about your products is not unique, every dealer offers the same thing. In fact, these “providers” will argue that this type of content is the cornerstone to your content strategy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Failing to create and publish unique content today is the equivalent of advertising the same car at the same price as everybody else. It doesn’t make you special, it sends a message that you’re just like all the others.
No one watches your brand like you do. Your reputation is an asset just like your cash and your inventory. Why would you leave it up to some corporation who, pardon my bluntness, has their profits as a first priority? As long as you cut a check every month for $1000+, they’re happy. You, however, could be harming your reputation by letting this cookie-cutter content be published for you. At the very least, it’s not helping you.
I overheard a provider recently talking in a public forum about “what’s right and what’s wrong” to post on Social Media. He was talking to over 400+ businesses. Excuse me but how in the world would he know what’s exactly right and wrong for each and every one of those businesses? Each one is unique: their community, their personality, their products/services, their staff, and their customers are all unique. How can content provided by someone else (a large corporation) ever be consistently successful enough to produce leads and sales?
Sure, there are some posts that could be looked at as universally entertaining, like beautiful pictures or coffee or scrumptious desserts, but this is where the provider started bashing universal content, which contradicted his whole argument. This type of content is universal because we all feel an emotion when we view it. What was being said in this forum was that those are silly and do nothing for your page. I disagree. Stats show that most audiences enjoy that type of content when it relates back to your brand message. It’s all part of an overall content strategy that only you can create, develop and re-discover regularly.
The further you drill down to describe your business’ and your customers’ personality, the better your content will be. If you really want to drive Facebook reach and engagement (and you do), you have to be willing to do the work that will get you there. Not pawn it off on some provider who promises the world and delivers very little.
Also consider that if you have a provider doing your content for you, ask them how many other dealers or businesses they’re pushing that same content out to. I have a client whose Facebook page generally gets 50%+ engagement. The local competitor is actually copying some of their ideas for content (of course without doing the hard work of ongoing consistent brand discovery). The competitor’s page engagement is next to zero. I use this example to illustrate how content for one store doesn’t work for another. The providers are sharing the same content on dozens of the dealership Facebook pages. It happens all the time but dealers won’t ever know this unless they’re watching for it and “like” their competitors’ pages.
I am a content strategist. I also spent many years managing car dealerships. I use my knowledge of the daily operations to research and compile all the background information I can find on a business before I coach the dealer on what content to publish. In fact, I suggest you don’t even start a Facebook, Twitter or blog without having gone through a detailed “brand discovery” to define who you are as a brand, who your customers are, what makes them tick and what goals you would like to achieve with Social Media.
Short of that, you will fail. Dealerships (and all businesses) need to rethink their marketing strategy and recognize that to win you need to become a publisher. Once you’re comfortable with the tenets of brand discovery, approach the idea of being a publisher by knowing that content is king. You must have a strategy in place to feed the content engine and drive engagement:
- Utilize your employees well. They are having experiences everyday with your current customers and are your best source for compelling content.
- Develop a system for employees to submit the content. Ideas (no matter how small or seemingly insignificant), customer interviews or testimonials, How-to videos, blog posts (yes, some of your staff may be writers), Facebook campaign ideas, and Tweets.
- Designate one editor. Your Social Media manager will filter and edit the content, get it ready for prime time and publish it using a scheduler and/or editorial calendar.
- Listen. Respond. Engage. Every sale starts with a conversation. Leads and sales happen on Social but you have to be ready when they present themselves. Always keep the prospect engaged by asking questions, just as you would if they were on the phone or sitting in front of you.
I’m curious, how much time do you spend on developing your brand message for Social Media? Do you utilize your employees in content generation? Please comment below, I’d love to hear your feedback.