Yes that’s right – this post features cats. And there is nothing you can do about it.
I love cats. That is a thing about me. Maybe you like cats also? I have no way of knowing. But one thing is indisputable: they do very well online. Described by ThoughtCatalog as the ‘unofficial mascots of the internet’, they comprise some of the most-viewed videos, spoofs and memes around. What a truly beautiful world we live in.
As true masters of unintentional humour, I’d like to proffer a theory. [bctt tweet=”Cats approach life the way businesses should approach their social media marketing.” username=”@seekerdigital”]
Bear with me here. Cats have mass appeal, and they know just how to get your attention. They were worshipped by an entire ancient civilisation. They own islands off Japan. Cats are doing very well – and they don’t even use smartphones. Here’s what we can learn from them.
Find a niche and commit to it
Nowadays, it’s much more to your benefit to be a specialist than a jack of all trades. Unless you’re an online supergiant such as the likes of Amazon or Google, you’re much more likely to find success by fine tuning that one thing you do really well – better than anyone else – and truly owning it. You may offer other products and services, but this should be your home.
Here at Seeker, we are search specialists. Our ‘box’ is unbranded outreach, and that’s where we focus our time and attention. What’s your specialism? Go and sit in it before someone else does.
Effective social media marketing is all about capturing people’s imaginations, whether that’s through wit, wordplay or creative visual content. There is so much scope to have fun with social marketing, as it’s generally more chatty and informal than traditional advertising. People are there to be entertained. They’re sat on trains, feeling bored, trying to disconnect from the uninspired commuters around them. Give them something to enjoy.
It’s important to know your strengths – but don’t take yourself too seriously. This is not the place for your hard sell. Playful, useful, shareable content is key.
Stay focused on your goal
That being said, whatever your marketing efforts, make sure you have a valid reason for them. Even the silliest viral advertising has a well thought-out end goal. Don’t go throwing shit against the wall ‘to see what sticks’. We are not apes.
When you plan your social marketing strategy, identify the logical outcome. Do you want more email signups? More traffic to your website? That tin of tuna I’m holding? Always include a clear call-to-action that will gently nudge your audience in the right direction.
Know that timing is everything
Timing is so, so crucial to running an effective social media campaign. Social algorithms are constantly updating and changing the way that users are exposed to content. Clearly, there are good and bad times to attempt to engage. Three in the morning is not the time to engage. You will more than likely get kicked off the bed.
So timing throughout the day is important, but likewise, you should also make yourself aware of current events and relevant social trends. Create a content calendar around key dates in the year, and keep an eye on hashtags that are trending. The ideal combination is to schedule what you can in advance, and do a little more on the fly when you come across a good opportunity.
Don’t act needy
Neediness is a desperately offputting quality, both in real life and on social media. Are you more likely to share a piece of content on its merit, or because the post begs you to like and share? If content has value, it will accumulate likes and shares without your input.
Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal summarises this point well in his comic ‘How to Get More Likes on Facebook’. His advice is to “put your energy into making things that are likeable, not into some douchey social media strategy”.
Cats do not chase the approval of others. And neither should you.
In the last 5-10 years, there has been a great surge in businesses the world over adopting a cute and quirky tone of voice. This correlates neatly with the founding of Innocent Smoothies in 1998. So many brands want to be Innocent Smoothies. But alas, we cannot all be Innocent Smoothies. That is the sad and stark reality of life.
At the end of the day, consumers value authenticity when they see it, because we are so used to being sold to every which way we look. And this all comes back to having a clear understanding of your company’s mission. Your tone of voice on social media should reflect your brand’s true personality. So if that’s chatty and informal, be chatty and informal. If that’s a little snobby, be a little snobby. If that’s racist – no. Don’t ever be racist.
Keep a watchful eye
To really excel in any given industry, you’ve got keep an eye on all the latest gossip, trends and events. Particularly in the world of digital, ‘the norm’ is always changing. Unless you always stay abreast of what’s going on, you’re going to fall behind.
This applies not just to what’s happening in your industry, but also what your competitors are up to. Follow them on social media and see what they’re posting. Pay particular attention to what performs well. Staying informed puts you in a better position to plan your next move and to pounce on an opportunity when the time is right.
Make some noise
Hey, if you’re an industry expert, then you’ve probably got some interesting stuff to say (or so I would hope). Don’t keep all of this lovely, juicy insight to yourself. Invest in a good content marketing strategy that highlights your knowledge and positions you as an authority in your niche. Let people know you exist.
Great content marketing – whether it’s a handy guide, a funny video or a slick new infographic – gives you the best kind of material to share on social media. This is what’s going to generate likes and comments – not product or sales pages. If you want to make yourself heard, offer original content that has value. Just don’t go on all night about it.
Humans are visual creatures. We have visceral reactions to compelling imagery, in a way that can be hard to recreate with words. It’s important to use high-quality images in your social media marketing, and to use them wisely. According to Hubspot, 74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing, ahead of blogs and videos.
The same article states that “infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than other any other type of content”. They are considered one of the best visual marketing tools for breaking down a message and making it memorable. As social channels like Instagram and Pinterest become more popular, visually stimulating content is very much the way to go, whether it’s photography, graphics or video. Find out what makes a compelling image.
The author and speaker Ken Robinson gave an amazing TED Talk back in 2006 that is as relevant today as it was then. In it he says: “if you are not prepared to make mistakes, you will never come up with anything original”. I love this talk. And it’s so true. Watch it below:
Sometimes, to stand out from the big, noisy online crowd, you have to be prepared to try something different. There is a tendency to play it safe with marketing, perhaps because we’re afraid of looking foolish. But this is also where the best creative ideas emerge – if you will allow them. And it just might work. You just have to make the leap with a certain amount of feline confidence.
If all goes according to their plan, cats will one day rule the world. So let’s take this opportunity to learn what we can from them, before we become their miserable human slaves. Share this article, if you like. I’m off to catch butterflies.