It all happened so fast.
It started out as an average weekday, and I was dropping off my son at school.
We were running a little late, so the teacher, Mrs. T was already getting all the kids to sit on a floor mat in a big circle formation.
I discreetly helped my boy find his place in the circle and started making a stealth exit. I was already thinking of the thousand things I had to do that day.
Then Mrs. T noticed me.
Dang – I totally thought she couldn’t see me.
“Can I have a word with you, J’s Mommie?”
(They call me “J’s Mommie” at his school. It’s weird and it’s like having an alter-ego.)
Um – sure?
“I was wondering, J’s Mommie, if you could take part in our career week? You know, give a presentation and tell the children what you do for a living?”
Sure, whatever. Sounds fun and uncomplicated. Count me in. I love this school. Call me later to schedule. Leave a message if I don’t pick up…
“Fantastic!” I had never seen Mrs. T so happy.
Then it happened.
Mrs. T turns to the circle of kindergartners and announces, “Class, we have a special surprise today. J’s Mommie is going to tell us all about her business.”
Wait. What? NOW!?
“This is very special, class. I want you to pay very close attention.”
Mrs. T then ushered me into the teacher’s chair at the apex of the circle of judgmental children. I literally had 27 seconds to come up with a riveting presentation to explain my business as a social media content creator and strategist to a roomful of kindergartners.
Meanwhile, most grown adults don’t even understand what it is I do for a living.
It’s not that I have a problem speaking to people – I’ve given tons of presentations, usually to rooms full of business owners. I’ve taught college courses, I’ve been grilled at business meetings, and I’ve been interviewed for podcasts… no problemmo.
But this – this was different. Nothing prepared me for this. This was kindergarten. This was terrifying.
Thirty sets of unblinking little eyes were staring at me. Judging me. Why did Mrs. T make me sit in this giant, conspicuous chair? I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in that scene from “Kindergarten Cop.”
Then it hit me.
Just as Arnold used his experiences as an undercover detective to relate to his kindergarten class, I used the basics of content-driven social media marketing strategies to win over a room full of munchkins.
Identify and speak to your target audience’s priorities
The first step to creating a social media marketing strategy is knowing who your target audience is and understanding what it is that they really care about.
You need to speak to that target audience’s desires, priorities, needs, and personal values.
Remember, nobody actually cares about what it is you do, they care about what benefit you are to them.
In this situation, my target was a group of kindergartners. They care about their parents, cartoons, toys, and licking things.
Now how do I sell them the idea of my business?
I own a media company that produces online content, both written and visual.
Most of these kids couldn’t read yet. They know it’s important but it’s not a burning priority for them. For the purposes of engaging with my intended audience, writing blogs was not going to impress anyone.
Now visual online content, on the other hand…
“Who has an iPad?” I asked.
Hands shot up in the air. Kids love toys. iPads are toys.
“How many of you watch videos on your iPads?”
MORE hands shot up in the air (because apparently some kids didn’t listen to my first question). The hands that were already in the air started stretching and waving hysterically. Thirty sets of eyes lit up with interest.
I had them now.
“My company makes the videos you watch on your iPad.”
There was a collective “whoooaAAAAHHHHH!” from the Circle of Judgement.
Success. Target audience engaged.
Don’t waste their time
When creating online content or trying to engage an audience on social media, you need to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible.
A study conducted by Microsoft discovered that thanks to mobile technology and digital lifestyle, the average human’s attention span has withered down to about eight seconds – which is less than the attention span of a goldfish.
You need to grab them in less than eight seconds.
Write catchy headlines. Sometimes, I spend more time on my headlines than I do writing my blogs.
Don’t bury the lead, get to your point quickly.
Write in short paragraphs. Better yet, present your content in the form of lists. Lists are easy to read and quick to digest.
Include eye-catching pictures – they make a huge difference. You don’t have to spend a whole lot on photography these days. Many stock photo sites will sell you great images at a very reasonable cost, and there are even several stock photo sites that will let you use their images for free.
Include clickable links! No one is going to take the time to type out a long URL to get to your web page. Some social media platforms make it a bit difficult to create clickable links, namely Instagram, but there are usually workarounds if you put in the extra effort.
Make sure your content is all killer and no filler. Offer real value. Don’t bore your audience to tears with a sales pitch. You will lose them. Be sincere in your efforts to help them, entertain them, and inspire them.
Make sure your call- to-action is easy to follow and to the point. If you want your audience to do something, make it easy for them to do! For instance, if you want them to download your new ebook, make it available to them in a few clicks (don’t make them fill out a lengthy form).
With that in mind, I didn’t bother introducing myself to the kindergarten class that day, namely because they didn’t care. I didn’t tell them what I did for a living or what my business was called either. All of that extraneous information would have gone straight over their heads.
I opened with asking them about a cool toy they could all relate to.
I jumped straight in because not only did I have to get their attention, I had to get it fast.
Have a strong WHY
When branding your business on social media, make sure you have a strong why.
Why does your company do what it does? And no, the answer isn’t, “to make money.” I mean it is, but it isn’t.
The “why” that drives your business is something bigger. What epic problem does your business solve? What belief system does it adhere to? How does it make the world a better place? How does it inspire others? Why would anyone want to follow your business on social media?
In order to be successful with a social media marketing campaign, your “why” needs to align with your audience’s values.
There’s this one girl in my son’s class. She’s a head taller than the other kids and she’s very bright. She’s kind of like the leader amongst the other kindergartners. She asks all the best questions.
“WHY DO YOU DO THIS?” asked Smart Girl. The smart kids always ask why. Just like the smart customers.
“Because it’s fun. I love what I do. And I love the people I work with. I don’t like working for a boss, I like to be my own boss. And because it’s my business, I get to work for amazing, interesting people I like, who also want to be fun and creative all the time. Every day is different, I’m always learning new things. Some people don’t like that, but I do. I think it’s fun to keep learning and challenging yourself. Work can be fun. Many people will tell you it isn’t but that’s a big lie. You just have to work harder and smarter, and then work will be fun.”
Smart Girl lit up. The amazing thing was, I wasn’t even lying. I wasn’t even exaggerating. It was true. These are the values I hold when running my business.
These values were probably with me since I was a Kindergartner.
These values lined up with the values of my audience that day (and every day).
Later that afternoon, when I was picking up my son to go home, Smart Girl tracked me down. “I like what you said this morning. I want to do what you do.”
That’s called conversion.