I want to relate a story that happened to me several years ago.
I was working as a planner for a regional franchise of a major national restaurant chain. As with many such clients, there were media guidelines developed by the national “agency of record” which the regions were to adhere by.
One such guideline was that buying radio stations with religious content was forbidden. An understandable edict, especially since Christian stations (primarily) aired controversial views on a number of topics.
There was a radio station in one of our Ohio markets whose format was Contemporary Christian music. There was no controversial preaching on the station, just good positive music and banter. Its ratings, while not outstanding were still very strong in the market.
Based on our recommendation, the client elected to “buck” the edict to try out the station.
While it is very difficult to determine a radio station’s effectiveness, one area we found to be a pleasant surprise was in the live-remote broadcasts from the restaurants. The bottom line is that this client found that the Christian station’s remotes were well-attended by families (their prime target audience) and that these families didn’t come for “free Cd’s and T-shirts”, they came to spend money at the establishments.
This little Christian music station had engaged its listeners like no other station had. The listeners supported “their” station, and in turn they supported the station’s advertisers. I often wondered how many advertisers avoided this and other non-controversial “religious stations” for the sake of political correctness.
The “moral” of this story (pun intended) is that advertisers are better served when they target the “engaged” consumer. This station’s listeners formed a bond with the station – because it filled a gap in their radio listening habits. One thing is certain, this story isn’t too far removed from the opportunities advertisers have today.
Instead of “engaged listeners”, we have “followers, fans, and friends”. And while advertisers have largely yet to find the “golden ticket” when it comes to social media marketing, there is an understanding that it is a conversation that they must engage. And unlike the one-way communication of a radio campaign, social media opportunities provide an advertiser a voice to be heard and a voice to respond.
I’ve heard a lot of companies in my business who claim to be “social media experts”. Social media is all about “conversation” – I guess if you can carry on a conversation, you too can be a social media “expert”.
The key to good social media marketing is knowing how to “join” a conversation. That’s where engaging the prospect becomes crucial – success is borne out of supporting those with which you wish to have a conversation.
Like the Christian radio station, people will support those they feel align with their own personal needs. This is where a conversation in the social media realm can make or break a company. It is much easier to “join” in a conversation when individuals know you can support one of their “needs”. These “needs” comes in many shapes and sizes.
For example – if a company find there is mounting dissatisfaction with one of their competitors, join the conversation and offer a worthwhile incentive to switch brands. The pro-active company will not only successfully engage their prospects, but they will also gain their support. In the end, isn’t this what marketing is all about?