People do not want to create content for your brand

“Why would customers want to create content for our brand?” is a question we commonly come across at FreshNetworks. The truthful answer is often  “They don’t”. In fact, the question is the wrong one altogether.

Customers don’t want to create content for your brand and we see this with many unsuccessful uses of social media by brands. But customers will create content, and they will do it in a way that is really beneficial for you and your brand, but they are not necessarily doing it to help you.

Understanding motivation for doing anything is important, and this is especially true of social media. You may want consumers to show you lots of photos of exactly how they pack their children’s lunchboxes so that you can better design what you sell to them. Or you may want them to comment on and Like your posts on your Facebook page so that they and their friends will be kept up to date with what your brand is doing. But their motivation for doing this will rarely (if ever) be to help your brand. They are likely to do it for other reasons, and it is these that you need to uncover, before you plan any tactic or campaign, if it is really going to work.

There are many reasons people will choose to engage with you online, and many reasons that they will help you to achieve the aims that you have with your use of social media. The important step is to explore first of all who it is you want to engage in social media, and then to answer to simple (well actually not so simple) questions:

  1. How engaged are they with us right now
  2. What do they want from us

Probably exploring current relationships and motivations will let you understand what kind of engagement you can have with people in social media. This is not a one-way relationship; you can’t ask them to do something for you and then expect them to do it. You have to ask them to do something because they want to, something where it is clear what’s in it for them.

It may be that your target audience is looking for advice on how to pack the healthiest lunch for their children, or that they are looking for new ideas of what to feed them. Understanding this helps you to curate an environment in social media where they will be happy to do what you want (send you a photo of the lunchbox so you can better design what you are selling to them) but also provide them with what they want. You can provide experts on nutrition who will compare before-and-after shots of lunchboxes, or you could get mums to share their favourite lunchbox recipes. In both these cases the photos are gathered, just as you need for you brand, but not because you ask for them. Rather, because you engage with people online and they benefit too.

People do not always want to create content for your brand. They do, however, have many other needs that will lead to the same outcome for you. Proper time spent planning and investigating who you are looking to engage and what their motivation is is time well spent. It will help you to understand what both parties will get out of any engagement, and help to ensure that your campaign is not one of the many examples of social media where people really don’t want to engage with you.

The photo in this post is from the great Things real people don’t say about advertising

Social media campaigns and long-term engagement

As social media is still regarded as a new form of marketing and engagement, lots of companies seem to be more comfortable “trying out” social media as a one-off campaign.

Social media campaigns are an attractive proposition as they can generate a lot of buzz and excitement and are usually the basis for a lot of the social media case studies you will find on the web.

Even though we’re a social media agency, here at FreshNetworks we don’t just focus on campaign work; we also look at long-term engagement through a sustainable social media strategy.

In our experience, social media campaigns are perfect for raising awareness on a short-term basis. They’re also a great way of getting exposure for brands, companies or products that might not be that well known, or have fallen from favour in some way.

Campaign work is high impact but due to the cost and resource involved it’s not good for driving value over a long period of time.That’s not to say that campaigns should be disregarded completely. In fact, they are very effective when used alongside a sustainable engagement strategy.

Campaigns generate the high level of buzz that brands so desire. However, if there is a long-term strategy for engaging with the people who have come across your brand or product as a result of the campaign then the impact won’t drop off once the campaign has finished. Using campaigns as part of a wider social media strategy will help you build awareness and drive value over a longer period of time.

In order for a sustainable engagement strategy to succeed it must be set up with the needs of both the company and the user in mind. The reason why single, one-off social media campaigns are often favoured by brands is that engaging with people on a long-term basis takes time and effort. You need to build up relationships and develop trust with your audience. However, it’s worth the time and effort as ultimately the people you engage with will become a valuable asset to your company.

The video below from Richard gives a brief summary about our approach to social media campaigns and sustainable engagement:

How should businesses adopt social media: early bird or second mouse?

Last week Charlie and I spent a lot of time discussing the best way for businesses to embrace social media.

We looked at the pros and cons of using  a campaign-based approach to social media, where brands go for a one-off viral success, opposed to a more sustained, long-term social media strategy to enable businesses to build ongoign engagement through social media and begin to embed it in their processes rather than using it as a tool to support one campaign.

So should businesses jump in and use social media right now and be the “early bird” (who gets the worm), or is it better to wait, like the “second mouse” (who gets the cheese), and think about what you want to do with social media before rushing in? Charlie’s thoughts on this are captured in the video below:

As this is a new blog post style for us it would be great to hear your thoughts not only about the content, but also whether we should do more FreshNetworks videos in the future. (I know one thing I need to improve is the lighting - Charlie looks a little orange in this video!).