Social media is a party. In one corner of the room, there’s a group of moms talking about education and parenting issues. In another corner, a group of recent college grads are laughing about Will Ferrell’s latest movie. Everywhere you turn, different groups of people are enjoying themselves, sharing stories, discussing current events, pop culture, and trends. All the groups are mingling and making new friends. The most influential people in the room are those with the most “followers” hanging on their every word. So what’s your move?
Lead with people stories, not product stories. Marketing has taught us to always lead with our product story—distilling our message down to a “unique selling proposition” and driving it home with features and benefits. However, if you walk into that party and the first thing you do is try to sell your product, nobody will talk to you and you certainly won’t get invited back. You have to start a dialogue around something that is important to them, not what’s important to you. Only then will you have earned the right to talk about yourself.
People need to like you first—then they’ll ask what you do for a living. This means it’s critical to have the right “opening line”–a way to enter the conversation that starts with the consumer’s agenda (but can seamlessly migrate to your agenda). You need to think of your fellow partygoers as audiences rather than consumers. Like a publisher, you need to help or entertain first; showing or selling comes later.
Use content to make connections. The right story, joke or anecdote at a party goes a long way, and social media is no different. If those moms are talking about parenting issues, turn them onto a parenting expert who can help with their problems. If those grads are laughing about Will Ferrell’s latest movie, give them something similar to laugh about, or recommend another movie for them to see.
Embrace fragmentation. Just like a party, social media is made up of many groups—people with different interests, different likes and different dislikes. You may need a few different opening lines if you are going after different audiences. In the same way you would work the room at a party, the way to get scale in social media is to break your audience into segments. As you walk around having conversations with different groups of people, you naturally adjust your talking points based on who you are speaking with.
At the end of the night you will have met everyone at the party. If you are interesting, relevant and sociable, people will remember you and be willing to learn more about you.
Leverage the influencer. Have you ever walked into a party where you didn’t know anyone? It’s not impossible to meet people, but you certainly have to work hard at it.
Now, what if you walked into the party with the most popular kid in school? You get instant credibility, everyone in the room knows who you are, and talking to them becomes that much easier. Simply put, leveraging the right influencers makes you “cool by association.” You don’t have to work as hard meeting people, you get to talk about yourself more, and instead of trying to figure how to start a conversation with people, they will come talk to you.
The Social Media Party is not about making eye contact (impressions); it’s about shaking hands (engagements). It’s about meeting people, talking to them, and sharing with them.