Almost Timely News, 16 January 2022: Social Media Success, Business Strategy

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What’s On My Mind: When Social Media Works

For those of us who feel like social media marketing is like pushing a boulder uphill repeatedly, it can seriously call into question whether or not unpaid social media is worth it. Can anyone achieve any level of success with unpaid social media?

The answer is an unequivocal yes.

It’s possible for social media channels to drive enormous amounts of traffic and conversions. I witnessed this firsthand on a volunteer campaign I was helping to operate this weekend; the goal was to drive 100 new members to a non-profit organization’s Discord server in the next 12 months. With just basic content creation and outreach to influencers on the overall cause’s hashtag, they achieved that result in 2 days:

Social media campaign results

How? How could such a thing be possible? It comes down to one thing: passion.

The crowd this organization was trying to reach didn’t really have a home, a community, a place to gather online. Large groups of people simply shared content and connected with each other ad hoc using hashtags and popular personalities. Once this group of very passionate people found a place to call home, they flocked to it with abandon.

Now, is this pace sustainable? No. This campaign took advantage of a few concurrent factors:

  • There wasn’t a single strong community already, so this was an audience looking for a community. If there had been an existing strong community, this campaign would have done poorly.
  • The fans of this cause are absolutely rabid, and thus will flock to nearly anything with a connection to their cause.
  • Other than joining the community (which is free), there’s no other substantial call to action, so the barrier to entry and resistance is already low.

That said, what could we learn from this, as marketers? If we’re trying to create traction for something we’re promoting, what does this teach us?

By far, the most critical factor is that passion, that emotional energy. With it, your marketing creative and your campaign has to work less hard to achieve the same results as something which lacks emotional investment. If what your brand and campaign doesn’t have that kind of emotional energy, figure out some way to create it, to find purpose behind what you’re doing that’s bigger than just your company’s success.

Second, is there a community for what you do already out there? If not, and there are people searching for a community, do your best to identify and reach out to them. That group of people seeking a focal point for their energy could be the jump start you need to build a community of your own.

Third, if your audience has passion and energy, chances are you won’t need budget – at least, not very much of it. People who are emotionally motivated to seek out a collective, to find and meet up with others like them need little encouragement to take action. Other than building basic awareness, as a marketer you don’t really need to do anything else.

Unpaid social media can work extremely well if you’re working with an audience that already cares deeply about what you do, and you’re the rallying point around that emotional investment. If you can create that investment, that care, or nurture it if it’s already there, unpaid social media can still be a powerful marketing tool.

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What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

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Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

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How to Stay in Touch

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Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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