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Building a fan base for your brand on social media

For decades, traditional advertising appeared as an interruption to daily life. Television and radio, billboards and magazine inserts were all about grabbing your attention during otherwise routine activities: the ad itself was never the destination.

Until the Internet.

Today, social media channels, while not ads per say, have provided a venue for advertising that audiences have voluntarily chosen to be a part of. Consumers have adopted brands as part of their identity. They have become fans.

This is not to say disruptive advertising is a thing of the past: most advertising is still an interruption (and it probably always will be). If you’re new on the scene and trying to get people to know who you are, you have to say “hello” somehow. But once people have shaken your hand (i.e. opted-in to your social media channel), you’re no longer working with a cold audience. You’re speaking to people who have chosen to listen to you.

You have to prove your value to them. And that means NOT treating your social media like an advertising feed.

Avoiding the hard sell on social media

In order to have an effective presence on social media, you must stay focused on your audience. They are not interested in a relentless stream of sales pitches.

Imagine you are a tire company. You could waste a lot of time (and money) on social media pushing a lot of coupons and sales that will get exactly zero people excited. Why? Because no one buys tires on impulse. They are in the market maybe about once a year or so (per vehicle they own), or seasonally depending on your climate. If you’re trying to convince them to go buy tires TODAY, you’re wasting your breath.

Instead, you want to be sure that on the day they choose to go buy tires, you are the first company that comes to mind. And you do this by establishing trust and providing value up front. For instance: You could put out tips for how to check your tire pressure, advice about which tires will work best for your climate, and safety infographics about how keeping your tires in good order will help prevent accidents.

And then, when Fall rolls around and the opportune moment arrives, you can promote a special sale on winter tires. Because by then, not only do you have their trust, you’ve earned it as well.

Respect your audience

Cultivating a fan base is about putting them first. It’s about showing them you’re worth their time by giving them value and not asking too much in return. It’s about the relationship you’ve built with your customer, about dialog, and about being a good listener more than just a good talker.

Because in the end, social media is about people. As in: real human beings on the other end of that Internet connection who will be liking, sharing, and retweeting your brand pro bono, simply because they love you and they want other people to love you as well.

Treat them well.

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Show me your granite countertops.

Imagine for a moment you're a prospective homebuyer. Which of these descriptions sounds more appealing?

1) Fantastic, spacious kitchen!

2) Gourmet kitchen with granite countertops.

The second one, right? Do you know why?

"Fantastic" is a matter of opinion. "Granite countertops" aren't.

What words to use in real-estate copywriting.

If you're a fan of Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt's book Freakonomics, you may remember an excerpt from Chapter 2 in which the authors list a number of words commonly associated with real-estate ads. They are: fantastic, granite, spacious, state-of-the-art, "!," corian, charming, maple, great neighborhood, and gourmet. The authors then pose a simple question: which of these words do you think are correlated to a higher sales price, and which to a lower?

The five words most commonly associated with lower sales prices are: fantastic, spacious, charming, great neighborhood, and "!". These are all wiggle words. They're vague. They avoid the truth.

On the other hand, words like "maple," "state-of-the-art," and "corian" conjure specific images. Even if you aren't the sort of homebuyer who gets excited by the mention of "maple wainscoting," someone else sure is.

Be specific.

Specificity in marketing is an important but anxiety-inducing exercise. When you pin yourself down to an exact product or service you inevitably lose prospects who aren't interested in your offer. But when you don't narrow your focus you risk becoming generic, bland, and unappealing. Something vaguely but indefinably "fantastic" with an insecure "!" tacked on the end out of sheer desperation. 

Don't be afraid to get picky about your target market. Prospects who want your product will be more likely to choose you once they make a connection to your unique offer. Because marketing isn't about pleasing everybody—it's about finding and pleasing your people.

It's about providing them with something they can really grab hold of.

It's about showing them your granite countertops.

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Today's blog post is in honor of Taylor Swift's album 1989 selling 2 million copies. To say that this album has been successful is an understatement; it's the first album of the year to go platinum and the first album since 2002 to sell 1.287 million copies in its first week. Taylor's success doesn't just come from her loyal "swifties" running out to the store to grab the album, but arises out of a brililant marketing strategy. Marketers everywhere can take a few hints from the 24-year old. 

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