Stop Selling, Tell Your Story!

It’s been repeated time and time again, people make buying decisions based on emotions, not logic.  No matter what your brand is, authentically conveying your story will be more impactful. So why is it that a large percentage of brands online are falling into the sales trap? Why when I open my Instagram every morning am I bombarded with social posts that have no substance and only push sales on me? We’ll take a look at why I believe brands can’t or won’t get past the idea of logic based purchasing and what can be done to change that frame of mind.

Why do brands push sales based social media posts so often?

This is a tricky subject and will be 100% different for specific brands and categories, but let’s take a stab at the psychology of a marketing director and brands that are still questioning how to use social media effectively.

The Marketing Director or Owner doesn’t understand social media

This is most likely the case for social media that falls short. Marketing increases sales, social media is marketing, we need to use social media to increase sales. A flawed statement in its own right, but I’ve seen and heard this from so many owners recently. There are several reasons to be on social media including building brand awareness, making customer service personal, and developing a sales pipeline. It’s undeniable that most companies jump to that last point and don’t look back. If you’re spending all of your time wondering what tools can spread your marketing, you’re spending a lot of time ignoring your brand essence and message.

Your company doesn’t have a brand message worthy of conveying

Ok, this may be a bit harsh, but sit and think about it. What separates your brand from a similar competitor? Why did you go into business in the first place? The hardest question…how do you convey that message in your marketing to differentiate yourself from them? This issue can become significantly more challenging if your market is saturated with companies that are very similar with no distinct difference. Let’s take a look at restaurants and craft beer companies. Typically, it’s quite difficult to differentiate your brand essence when it comes to these categories. Are you a craft beer brewery because you love the craft itself? Did you open a restaurant because you love to cook? That’s not enough. What’s a more compelling story on social media? A) Craft beer company develops a weekly video about the brewers with behind the scenes interviews of the process and why they brew or B) Craft beer company posts an image of a draught beer on the counter?

To make this even more challenging, each individual social media channel requires a different approach to conveying your brand message. Content becomes difficult to keep up with, and you should remember you DON’T need to post every single day 3 times a day on each platform.

Lack of creativity or time

I’ll take my bets on creativity but time can also be a limiting factor when it comes to social. Everyone has their priorities that need to be met day to day and sometimes there isn’t enough time in the World to complete what you need at the level you desire. As far as creativity goes, I don’t blame anyone for this. Here’s usually how conversations go when it comes to social:

“I have this great idea, we do this and this on Facebook. It’s different, I don’t think it’s been done before.”

“How are we going to sell more product by doing this?”

“Well, it’s not about selling the product. We’re generating interest in the brand and trying to slowly create loyal followers.”

“How long is that going to take?  Is this even worth the time?”

Ideas are destroyed daily, simply because the end goal is not aligned with what someone may believe social media is for. If your good ideas are being constantly rejected, you will tend to fall back to non-creative sales based posts. This inhibits creativity and is the beginning of the end. Some social media managers may be ok with that status quo, with just promoting your events, promoting your products, always putting links to your site, etc., but I’m not, and you shouldn’t be either.

So, what can I do or change?

First, being able to sell yourself as a social media manager or marketing director is key. You need to understand the fundamentals of marketing and how they pertain to the category you’re in. Read blogs, check out social media awards for what successful brands are doing, follow well-known brands in your category, and my personal favorite, if you have any ideas what so ever place them in an idea book. I use Evernote on my phone, so I always have it with me. Even if the idea is dumb, write it in there. You’d be amazed how fast you forget ideas and then how often a silly idea leads to something magical. With this information, you’re more likely to convince the owner, your supervisor, or even the marketing director above that your ideas are worth while to the company.

Second, understand where you are in the purchasing process when it comes to social media. The typical purchasing steps are need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase, and post purchase behavior. Figure out where your average social media follower is in this process and generate content that pushes your brand essence and pushes your followers through this process over and over again. Typically, social media followers will be in either post purchase behavior or information search. Good content (not sales based) will fill your social media channels with more people in the need recognition and information search sections which will then allow you to push them through the purchasing steps over time.

Third, sit down with the owners or marketing team (if you are the owner, use some critical thinking or find a local entrepreneur group willing to help) and establish what your core brand message is. This should be something that is created before you even open the doors, but often times you’ll see companies begin and run on the premise of making a hobby into a business. But better late than never! For some ideas on brand messages, I’d suggest going through your favorite brands’ websites and reading their “About” pages and social media pages. You may even start to find out that some of these brands are falling short of producing a valuable message.

Figuring out how to produce great content on social media is much more complex than the above stated but you have to start somewhere. If you go from generating only sales based content to 50/50 sales/brand messaging, then it’s a step in the right direction. Your followers have a much higher chance to become loyal purchasers than someone walking down the street so put the time into the craft to make it succeed!