Ever since social networks became a popular mode of communication, marketers have been trying to exploit them to maximum effect. In my opinion, the best way to achieve results in this area is to delight the target audience with free content (whether it be videos, blog posts, games, or some other form of media to engage/entertain/enlighten).
The basics are really quite simple, and you can do much of this yourself with nothing more than the simplest of strategies, which I will briefly outline here.
My example involves a “1-person company,” a professional guitarist and guitar instructor named Adam Rafferty, whom I played in a band with and went to college with years ago. Adam makes and sells his own recordings, books his own tours, and creates and sells his own library of training materials. He also has no idea I’m writing this right now, so hi Raf, I hope you don’t mind me using you as my case study today! Adam also has somewhat of a niche, he’s a fingerstyle acoustic guitarist who creates his own arrangements of songs by artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson (amongst others) and has as a performer he has a very unique, percussive, energetic style (which I highly recommend you check out).
Adam Rafferty’s website, homepage above-the-fold
His strategy (which I’ve gleaned solely by observation, BTW, he and I have never discussed this) boils down to being able to answer the following questions:
1) Who is my target audience?
2) What content can I create that will delight my audience?
3) Where should I publish my content so my audience can engage with it, and easily share it with their social networks?
4) What online communities exist where I can promote my content so my audience can find it easily?
5) When my audience does find and engage with my content, what do I want them to do next?
In Adam’s case, my interpretation of what the answers are is:
1) The audience is guitar students, fingerstyle guitar players, fans of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson songs, and music lovers in general
2) What delights this audience is quality guitar instruction (the students) and quality musical performances (everyone else).
3) Publishing the content on a WordPress blog enables the publishing of written articles, music tracks, and video clips, and enables the audience to easily share the content via Facebook, Twitter, and a wide range of additional online social networks.
4) There are several online forums dedicated to fingerstyle guitar, as well as the music of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. These are ideal places for Adam to promote the free content on his blog. In addition, Adam has built a sizable Facebook and Twitter following of both personal friends and fans he’s made as a performer and instructor, and naturally this is the first place he’ll promote any new content he publishes.
5) All the free content on the blog drives to adamrafferty.com where visitors can see Adam’s upcoming tour dates, and buy his recordings and instructional products.
The reason I’m using Adam’s example is that he’s a 1-person business. ANYONE can take advantage of this approach. You just need to come up with your own answers to the 5 questions above.
On a larger scale, if you work at a company with some resources, you probably have the wherewithal to get content such as video created professionally. If you don’t you should do it yourself. The bottom line is the quality doesn’t matter AS LONG AS IT ISN’T SO BAD THAT IT’S DISTRACTING TO YOUR AUDIENCE, this has been proven time and time again in user research, including the several rounds of usability research we did for Adobe TV. As long as the content delights your audience, it really doesn’t have to look “broadcast quality” as long as the quality is good enough to get your message across without distracting the viewer.
Miami City Ballet is a good example of an organization that employs this approach (they are a client of my company as well). Their main marketing goal is to engage the younger generation of dancers and dance enthusiasts. One of the ways they accomplish this goal is by regularly creating and publishing videos from their productions as well as “behind the scenes” pieces, which are of are particular interest to the dance community.
The videos drive viewers to the Miami City Ballet website, where they can watch even more useful content, learn about the company, see the upcoming performance schedule, and, of course, purchase tickets. Same concept as what Adam Rafferty does, just on a larger and more complex scale.
As for the basics, THAT’S ALL THERE IS TO IT, FOLKS! Anyone can do this. Of course, the deeper you get, the more nuanced it becomes, but at the most fundamental level it’s not difficult to understand at all. So don’t overcomplicate it, keep the strategy and execution as simple as possible.