Social media content designed to promote your small business reaches its full potential when it is both useful and shareable. Useful content acts as a free service to your audience that is valuable enough for people to pay for it. Content becomes valuable when it generates lots of retweets, Facebook shares, and other forms of buzz in the social media universe. If you consistently post content that is both shareable and useful to your audience, you will see a greater return on investment from your social media marketing efforts.
How can you create content that people want to share? In his New York Times-bestseller Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger explains his 6-step framework called STEPPS, which includes several principles that are satisfied by shareable content. One of these principles is the utilization of triggers: anything in the environment that triggers another thought in our minds. Berger stresses the importance of the context in which you post in order to make this principle work for you. The perceived benefit of choosing one product or service over the other can increase tremendously if it that product is connected to an idea that is already accepted in a specific context. One example Berger provides for this principle is the restaurant called Barclay Prime, a steakhouse in Philadelphia that recognized the already overwhelming popularity of cheesesteak sandwiches in the city and decided to become the first sandwich maker to sell their products for 100 dollars a piece. It is essentially guaranteed that visitors of Philadelphia will think of cheesesteak sandwiches at some point during their stay in the city: these sandwiches are a strong trigger in the given context because they are so often identified together. The concept of a 100-dollar sandwich implies a very special treat, and as such, residents of Philadelphia are happy to bring their visitors to Barclay Prime because they want their guests to feel special to them. The restaurant has done an extremely good job of identifying a common trigger in their specific context and finding a way to relate their product to that trigger in the minds of their consumers.
You can learn how to create useful content by understanding the principle of “youtility,” outlined by Jay Baer in his new book, which presents the argument that successful marketing is about “help, not hype.” One story Baer uses to support his argument is the success of Taxi Mike, a cab driver in Banff, Alberta, who writes a guide about the best places to visit while in his town. Called the “Taxi Mike Dining Guide: Where to Eat in Banff,” it is a must-have pamphlet for tourists looking to make the most out of their visit. Baer explains that at the end of the night, when visitors are looking for a cab back to the hotel, their first move is not to walk down to the corner in hopes of finding a ride; instead, Taxi Mike is the first one they call because all they need to do is find his number, which is printed on the “Dining Guide” they’ve been carrying in their pockets all evening long. Taxi Mike gets a huge return on investment from his development of the guide by using the concept of “youtility” in his marketing.
There you have it: a few examples that should help you understand how people create shareable and useful content to be used in their social media marketing efforts for their small businesses. For more help on your social media strategy, don’t hesitate to contact Sherman Social!
– Richard Moriarty