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Social Media Rule #1: Add Value


That Tom Fishburne is one smart sumbitch. I’ve read his cartoons for years, but nothing sums up social media better than this one.

When reviewing marketing data and reporting them back to clients, we’re constantly reminded that no one is going to care as much about our own businesses as much as those who run them. That’s not to say that they don’t care at all – it simply means that they don’t care as much as we’d like them to. When engaging in social media, we need to understand that we’re going to a place where people typically don’t want to see advertising. They want to be enlightened, entertained, excited, but not sold to.

So with that in mind, and in the context of creating a long-term campaign that builds customer engagement, how do we come up with valuable content?

1. Give free advice. One of my favorite websites is LifeHacker. I spend an embarrassing amount of time on that site each week, learning how I can simplify my life. Lowe’s recently launched a Vine campaign with their “Fix In Six” series, offering quick home improvement tips in small, six-second snippets. The response was incredible. Giving away small pieces of actionable advice can go a long way to getting an audience that’s excited to see your next post.

2. Give your audience a chance to speak up. There’s a reason behind the success of review sites; people want to be heard. One of my favorite brands to follow on Facebook is CrowdRise. By rewarding feedback and soliciting response, no matter how comical, they’re able to keep an engaged and entertained audience. Does it pertain strictly to their mission? Absolutely not, but it works very well in maintaining brand presence.

3. Give them the exclusive. Is there a unique benefit to someone following you on Twitter from now until the end of time? Perhaps it could be early – or exclusive – access to white papers, or discount codes to upcoming webinars. As you can see below, a whopping 42% of social media followers do so to get exclusive discounts.


Finally, it’s important to note two things: first, different social media networks attract different types of followers. The content you share on Pinterest may fall flat on LinkedIn, so make sure that what you’re sharing is given a chance by being placed in front of the right audience. Second, on social media, you’re not competing with other companies – you’re competing with everything that really matters to people. Content that doesn’t add value will simply be ignored.

How could you add value for your followers?

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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