Do you remember the early days of social media? It was a glorious time of exploration and experimentation. It came with a promise which enraptured brands of all shapes and sizes. Free communication with as big of an audience as you can build.
Millions of dollars were poured into building follower counts across platforms, and presumably, some of that money was returned in the form of revenue and brand affinity.
But something happened along the way to 2022. The social media networks decided they wanted to make a profit too, and that free communication promise was replaced with a pay-to-play model and a siphoning off of all but 2-4% of your audience you worked so hard to build. (If you’re lucky)
Thus began the separation of social media marketing into paid and organic.
And a switch from thinking of social media accounts as owned vs earned media.
In 2022, having a social media account for your brand is a bit like owning a billboard in a small town.
Living in this small town are your brands loyalists. The heaviest of the heavy users. The top 2% of your brands fans. They see your billboard every day. You don’t have to do a whole lot to get their attention because they live here. They’re heavily attached to your brand and your social accounts and actually want to hear what you have to say on a regular basis.
You own the billboard, so sure, you can put ANYTHING you want up there and not pay a dime. The original promise of social media marketing remains alive with this tiny percentage of your desired audience.
And you can accomplish a lot with that 2-4% of your followers. Loyalty. Affinity. Repeat purchase.
But nobody else outside of the town will see that billboard. So forget about awareness, acquisition, trial.
You use that billboard to say something wildly interesting.
Because outside of the town is an invisible wall we call the algorithms which will only let your message through if enough of the townspeople have a strong opinion about what they see on the billboard. (It’s kinda like the Truman Show)
If you can work the townspeople up into enough of a frenzy, people outside of the town will start to notice too, and your 2% will become 4%, and then 8%, and then who knows.
But to do that you need to be controversial, or helpful, or engaging, or motivating. And unique. Not advertising unique, but actually unique. Because the townspeople can spot your inauthenticity from all over your small town. So, you have to be brave, and take some risks. You have to know who you are as a brand and express that fully.
So, use this analogy next time you’re crafting your organic social media strategy. Remember, you own a billboard in a small town and you’re responsible for programming it. Are you happy talking to just the townspeople? Or do you need to reach others as well?
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