According to AdWeek, one of the most important marketing principles for 2010 is to be interesting. AdWeek states that a key to branding is to generate conversations - not by talking about your brand, but by giving consumers information to share with each other. Today's brands cannot stand up and say "notice me!" but can subtly share information that drives traffic back to the brand.
As small-business advertiser, we know the general advice is to be on Facebook, Twitter, and to blog. The trick is knowing what to say and how to say it effectively.
First, set relevant goals. A recent study by research firm Forrester found that many large corporations fail to set goals for what their social media accounts should achieve. The result is a scatter-brained approach to marketing online. Honda allows dealers to tweet, but lacks a centralized Twitter account. Each dealer has a different online brand identity and the Honda brand falls to the wayside. Your brand, even if operated by one person, can have the same identity crisis. Decide what your goals are for your brand online - is it to connect with customers/fans? Or is it to collect new ideas for your business? Or is it something entirely different?
Once you've set your goals, decide who you are talking to. In December, Facebook released its demographics for the first time. It has grown into a diverse connection point for millions of people. Twitter, on the other hand, is largely a playground for marketers; over 60% of new users quit within the first month. If you are tweeting, you are probably tweeting to other small business owners. We're all still waiting for the general buying population to show up.
Keeping in mind your audience, adjust your messages according. While it is ok to tweet your promotions constantly on Twitter, bugging your Facebook fans with obsessive status updates will only drive them away. I love this recent spoof - it shows precisely all the ways you can kill your reputation on Facebook.
Determining what to say might be a challenge. There are only so many days in a row that you can advertise "10% off" or advertise a new item listing. Get creative with your media messages. Try filming your customers comments at your next craft show. Start interactive dialogue with how-to-guides. Talk about a topic where you have expertise. If you are really stuck for ideas, get on a chat room and brainstorm with your peers. Just be careful - I was once told to blog about pillows. Now, how interesting would that have been? "Here is the stuffing. Here is the cover." Don't be the stuffing-cover person with your products.
Most importantly, operate with a double click mentality. If your customers cannot reach the coupon, promotional code, or item within two clicks, you're done for. Make your content shareable by breaking down any barriers - set up RSS feeds, avoid blocking comments, allow anyone to follow you on Twitter, and be searchable in Facebook. Keep a running list of any time you are blocked from content in your own searches, and then go back and fix those same blocks on your own site. With a little luck, you'll find your content is not only relevant and accessible, but interesting.