Don’t Post or Tweet that Kitten Picture on Social Media Yet!

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Don’t fall into the trap of useless likes, retweets and pins. Find out how social media can actually grow your business. 

The most useful advice on social media marketing I ever received didn’t come from a conference, webinar or best practices guide. Instead, it’s from a passage in Don DeLilo’s novel White Noise. A few lines of that book helped me get more small businesses a return on investment from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest than any other resource.

Okay, I get that’s a weird sentence. Stating postmodern literature can improve your social media strategy is like saying boxers could win more rounds by watching The Three Stooges. Bear with me though, I’ll explain.

In White Noise, two characters travel to see The Most Photographed Barn in America. Along the way, they notice billboards advertising this popular tourist trap destination. Upon arriving and seeing swarms of photographers taking pictures of the famous barn, the following lines are spoken:

“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

A long silence followed.

“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

Let’s switch gears over to social media. If you look through five random Facebook pages for local businesses, you’ll see at least one of two things:
1. An unrelated picture of a cute fuzzy-wuzzy animal.
2. Posts reading only “Happy [insert weekday here], everyone!”

Keep clicking and you’ll notice lots of companies using the same content on their social media profiles. These two posts are quick, easy ways of keeping a Facebook page “active.”

Unfortunately they’re useless at converting social media users into customers, which is why these businesses are on Facebook in the first place. Unless you run a cute fuzzy-wuzzy animal emporium, no one’s going to look at a picture of a kitten and immediately say, “Wow! This seems like a company I can trust.” Sure, someone might like it because they’re a cat lover, but their engagement with your page ends there. That like won’t translate into more people visiting your website or place of business.

This ties into the passage from White Noise I mentioned earlier. In the book, people aren’t using their cameras to take a picture of a beautiful, rustic barn. They don’t notice the barn at all. All they see is the mystique built up around The Most Photographed Barn in America.

The fictional photographers are falling into the same trap as businesses posting adorable puppy pictures and “TGIF!” Most people like cute things and Fridays, so that kind of content is famous for getting likes, retweets and pins. That doesn’t mean it focuses social media users on what’s important: the business itself.

I’m not saying you should swear off posting pictures of darling little baby sloths or proclaiming “Happy Hump Day!” on your profiles occasionally. Done correctly, that can help build a relationship with your social media fans. The point I’m trying to make is when you post on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, do so deliberately.

There’s a simple way to check if you’re doing this. Next time you’re about to send a message out into the wild world of social media ask yourself these questions:

– Will this convey the image I want my brand to project?

– Is this building a relationship between my business and our customers or clients?

– Will this make users want to visit not just my social media profile, but my website or place of business as well?

If the answers to the above questions are “yes,” post away. Don’t lose your profile to the mystique surrounding likes, retweets and repins. The most effective way of using your social media profiles is creating solid content that truly represents your business.

Because I’m not into that whole shameless self-promotion thing, I won’t mention you can get your business an awesome social media plan by contacting us today.