From Taylor Swift’s adoring “Swifties,” to Lady Gaga’s feisty “Little Monsters,” Justin Bieber’s dedicated “Beliebers,” and Beyonce’s fierce “Beyhive,” there are lots of passionate fan bases out there. My favorite has to be J.Lo’s sassy J.Lovers, or the new crowd of Lizzo’s unified “Lizzbians.”
But cutesy names aside, these music superstars have built a tribe of loyal supporters who will unconditionally stream their albums, buy their concert tickets, don their merchandise, and spread the love for years to come.
If brands want to grow their audiences, they should be singing from the same song sheet as these musicians.
Rather than always chasing down new leads, companies should strive to build a community of repeat customers who become enthusiastic brand ambassadors. By deepening their connection with the brand, they are more likely to come back, refer their friends, and market your company on your behalf. Yes, please!
This approach fosters something called social proof — a psychological phenomenon indicating that people are especially influenced by the actions of others.
With this strategy, everybody wins! You spend more time nurturing your existing customers, thus making them happier with their brand experience. Your referred leads walk into the brand relationship with a higher level of trust, and more trust means more conversions.
Personalize the experience. Whenever you can, demonstrate that you know your customers. Make notes in your CRM to help you keep track of their birthdays, special milestones, or life happenings.
Go beyond automation. Any brand can use their email automation system to trigger a happy birthday email. Make a lasting impression by sending a handwritten card with a small gift, or comping their order. Set aside a small budget called “surprise and delight” to cover cards, balloons, or gifted items. You will earn your money back 10x over simply through your customer’s enduring loyalty.
Remember your customer’s name, and use it often. Dale Carnegie, the author of the iconic book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, once said:“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Address your customer by name every chance you get. It’s a small gesture that means a lot.
Put their name in lights. Any opportunity to feature your customer on a large scale will make them feel special. If you know they’re visiting your brick-and-mortar shop for the first time, write their name on a welcome sign. Feature their photo on social media or ask for a quote for a quick testimonial and tag them in your post.
Unify your audience with a branded hashtag. User-generated content is one of your most powerful social media tools to leverage. Add fuel to the fire by collecting all of your UGC via a branded hashtag. This gives your audience an easy mechanic to create a brand impression. Plus it will make them feel like they are part of something bigger. It creates a hangout space for members of your tribe to connect. Bonus idea: create a Facebook Group vs. a Business Page.
Your Tribe is the Gift That Keeps on Giving
Community really is everything if you want to create a brand that spreads and lasts. Stop brainstorming ways to sell to your audience, and instead look for ways to serve them, Their appreciation will manifest as more loyalty, more referrals, and more sales.
Now go stream your favorite artist and make a list of how you can go the extra mile for your customers! Your superfans are out there waiting to cheer you on.
If you didn’t make up dances with your friends, did you even have a childhood?
I have vivid memories of hosting sleepovers with my friends where we’d either choreograph our own dances to whatever was on the radio, or copy moves from the music videos we saw on TRL.
The first song we had to master was of course, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). Then we moved on to Oops, I Did it Again, I’m a Slave 4 U, Bye Bye Bye…. all iconic choreography.
Anyway, leave it to me to go down a fangirling rabbit hole…
The reason I bring this is up is I wonder if my friends and I would have been viral sensations if we performed our dances in the age of TikTok — one of the newest and most downloaded social media apps. Its users are celebrities, brands, and especially young audiences. Generation Z dominate the platform — 60% of users are 16 to 24 years old.
Want TikTok Success? As Lady Gaga Would Say, Just Dance
Even if you don’t have TikTok, you’ve probably seen some of the viral dance challenge videos lighting up social media. Here’s a compilation of one of my favorites, #TheGitUpChallenge
Although the song and choreography for each dance are the same, the fun is watching how each person adds their own personality and flair. In #TheGitUpChallenge, you have kids dancing through the halls, men wearing Daisy Dukes, maintenance workers taking a dance break… There’s something special about the way TikTok unifies diverse audiences through the same dance.
Celebrities are also jumping on the TikTok dance floor. Courteney Cox, Mark Cuban, Gordon Ramsay, and many others have done choreographed dances with their children. And one of my favorite people, Alfonso Ribeiro, challenged the world to do his iconic Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
As for me, any natural dance coordination I once had left my body the day I turned 30, so I think this tweet is a novel idea:
TikTok’s Bingeworthy Secret
You might be thinking… it really can’t be that simple. You can’t just make dance videos and expect your audience to fall in love with you.
And you’re right, there’s a bigger TikTok takeaway here.
Moreso than on any other platform, you can’t be boring on TikTok. If your content isn’t direct, entertaining, helpful, or interesting, you are irrelevant. This isn’t just my opinion, it’s the algorithm.
According to HypeBot, the TikTok algorithm uses machine learning to evaluate the quality of every video uploaded. Then the video is shown to a small set of users in between other popular videos. The algorithm measures engagement such as likes, shares and downloads, as well as how much of the video is actually watched. If the video performs well during this test, the algorithm is triggered to show it to more audiences.
This strategic delivery system is why people are so addicted to TikTok right now. There’s little room to waste our time or attention on videos that don’t compel us. The For You Page hooks us in with tailored content that creates a seamless, binge-watching experience.
More than Dance Videos: Why We Love TikTok
From the outside looking in, TikTok might just seem like fun and games, but it deserves much more credit. It really sets the bar high for content creation.
Here are some things I think TikTok does better than any other social media platform:
It promotes creative expression. Finally, a platform that rewards you if fearlessly share your personality, quirks, and talents with the world! If you want to crush it on TikTok, you can’t hide behind your brand — you have to step out of your comfort zone. And that might mean dancing like everyone’s watching.
The robust editing tools help your video shine. For starters, you have an entire library of songs and soundbites to dance to, lip sync over, or to complement your content and storyline. The recording options make it simple to record and layer clips, add transitions, text, filters, and trim your content all natively within the platform! Add a caption and some hashtags and you have a video that’s packed with personality.
To succeed, you have to put your audience before yourself. Some of you might think that cute pictures of your dog or your lunch might be fun to share with friends on Instagram, but this type of content would fall flat on TikTok. Instead, ask yourself how you can make your content interesting for the viewer. Show us a funny video of your dog doing a trick (check out #TheSnootChallenge) or teach us a lunch recipe in an engaging way.
It’s just fun. I love Instagram, but sometimes there’s pressure to have professional photos or super polished branding. On TikTok, you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. Rather than feeling the pressure to impress your followers, strive to make them laugh, learn, or smile. The world needs a little more of that anyway!
So my challenge to you is to call your childhood friends and invite them over for rehearsal because it’s time to brush up on your dance moves! If you haven’t already, download TikTok and start finding your voice. But above all else, just be yourself.
Social media encompasses several different platforms that we all know and love, but for your strategy to succeed, you can’t treat them all the same.
From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to YouTube, and LinkedIn to now TikTok, each channel has their own considerations when it comes to content, voice, and audience expectations.
To explain the need-to-knows for these social media channels a little further, I thought I’d get a little help from my Friends.
Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, Ross, and Joey.
Friends Characters as Social Media Platforms
One of the reasons Friends is such a success is the consistency in personality of each character. While I was mourning the show’s departure from Netflix, I couldn’t help but notice how each of their characters’ traits aligns with the characteristics of each social media platform.
Rachel is Instagram
Even though she didn’t like reading this on Ross’ infamous pros and cons list, it’s pretty safe to say that Rachel is into her looks. After all, she ends up working in fashion!
Remember when she is embarrassed running with Phoebe in Central Park because of Phoebe’s awkward run?
On Instagram, you have to think about appearances just like Rachel tends to do.
Since the platform is visual, brands need to strive for eye-catching content that produces “thumb-stopping power.”
The good news is, you don’t always need a super professional photo with perfect lighting and color balance to grab attention on Instagram. The content just needs to be interesting. Bold typographical content, as well as unpolished memes and infographics could also inspire a double tap or boost engagement.
I think it’s safe to say that Facebook is a mixed bag, and in a way, so is Phoebe. She has her quirks and a lot of diverse interests and qualities. She is a vegetarian, animal lover, musician, and so much more.
For your content to succeed on Facebook, it needs to be targeted with precision based on what you know about your ideal customer. Although Facebook’s users span all ages, backgrounds, and interests, it provides a wealth of demographic and psychographic insights to help you put your posts or advertisements in front of the right people.
Monica is Pinterest
Can you imagine what a gold mine Monica Geller’s Pinterest account would be?! Not only is she a professional chef (hello, amazing recipes!) but she is also a clean freak, organization wizard, party host, interior decorator, and home economist. I would totally follow her fashion boards too!
The thing about Monica is that she loves to serve — she is always the hostess.
When it comes to Pinterest, your content should serve your audience’s needs. Remember that Pinterest is a search engine. People are looking for inspiration and guidance to make their lives easier. From outfit ideas, to wedding planning checklists, dessert recipes, or job hunting tips, everyone on Pinterest has a need that you can fulfill.
Invest in creating content that is the answer to what your target market is searching for and host it on your website. But don’t forget about presentation.
If your Pinterest image does not compel people to click to read more, it won’t matter how helpful your article may be. Design graphics that stand out and clearly communicate your content.
Chandler is Twitter
I love in season nine when Chandler finally makes his way into advertising and lands a job as a copywriter. Between his sarcasm, epic one-liners, and sharp wit, Chandler would absolutely crush it on Twitter!
In my opinion, Twitter is one of the best places where you can show your brand’s personality. It’s imperative for brands to find their voice and use it often on Twitter. Stay in-the-know, engage in real-time trending topics, start a conversation, and when you can, use humor.
Joey is YouTube
For obvious reasons, Joey represents YouTube. He’s an actor who loves to be on camera! And it turns out, he’d probably be a pretty great vlogger.
But you don’t have to have striking good looks like Joey to succeed on YouTube — you just have to provide value. You can do this by entertaining your audience, motivating them to try something, or simply teaching them a new skill.
For example, rather than posting a sizzling commercial about your products, why not do an unboxing, product demonstration, or tutorial?
With every video you create, make sure there is a takeaway for your audience.
Ross is LinkedIn
Dr. Ross Geller is a true academic who is always making strides in his career. He perfectly personifies LinkedIn!
LinkedIn is the most professional of all the social networking platforms, with every profile illustrating a users’ education and career history, as well as accolades and accomplishments. It is an ideal platform to connect with those in your industry and illustrate your credibility. It also includes in-platform blogging functionality to help people demonstrate thought leadership.
But one of LinkedIn’s biggest strengths is the opportunity for recruitment and collaboration.
This year, parents have surrendered to their children. They’ve realized that capturing the perfect Christmas card photo is damn near impossible, so they’ve given up on prim and proper poses in festive sweaters and flannel.
Instead, parents are sending cards with pictures of their kids sitting on Santa’s lap, kicking and screaming — similar to this photo of my brother and me circa 1992.
Why These Cards are a Christmas Hit
Just when you thought you were in full-on Christmas vacation mode, I’m reminding you that marketing lessons are always around us. It turns out there’s even a takeaway from the Christmas cards adorning your refrigerator.
At the moment, I have several family Christmas cards on my fridge, and yes, they’re picture-perfect (thank you to those who sent them!).
But if I received a card that captured a Santa-induced temper tantrum as pictured above, it would certainly stand out among the rest.
To quote the prolific marketing author, Seth Godin (I call him the Beyonce of marketing), a picture like this is considered a “purple cow.”
What is a Purple Cow?
In his 2003 book, Purple Cow, Godin suggests that if brands want to cut through the competition and combat advertising avoidance, you have to introduce something new, unique and remarkable – like a purple cow.
Godin goes on to break down the word “remarkable” in its simplest terms: worth remarking about.
There’s nothing new, unique, or remarkable about your typical Christmas card. We basically see the same scenes and poses from year to year.
But a card with pictures of unruly kids on Santa’s lap is not only authentic and relatable, but it’s refreshingly original, hilarious, and a conversation starter.
I wish I was a fly on the wall the moment that first set of parents decided to send their Christmas card that way. Can you imagine that conversation? At first, the idea probably seemed a little crazy. A Christmas card with children screaming instead of smiling? Blasphemy! But ultimately, it won hearts, inspired a trend, and made national news.
This trend took off because those parents decided to take a risk — they were vulnerable enough to show their imperfect reality. They broke the tradition of Christmas cards as we know them and ended up creating something remarkable.
Purple Cow Examples
Good news — for your brand to be remarkable, you don’t need to have the biggest marketing budget or even the best products. You just have to be brave enough to take risks.
We see brands do this all the time. A notable example would be the Twitter account for Wendy’s. Rather than portraying their brand voice as polished and professional as most companies do, they chose to be sassy. As a result of their audacity, their tweets are remarkable.
Or how about the outdoor gear company REI? In 2015, they decided to close all of their retail stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. They instead encouraged their employees and customers to spend the day outside.
From the outside looking in (no pun intended), this may have seemed like a missed sales opportunity, but the risk was worth the reward. Not only did sales skyrocket, but REI received national media attention, increased engagement on social media, and immeasurable brand loyalty.
Purple Cows in Your Marketing
If you want your advertising to be effective, you need to define your purple cow. Before you spend a single marketing dollar, get clear on your big idea. Plan your creative strategy and determine how you will stand out. This starts with market research.
To research your market, look at what the competition is doing. What are the trends in your category? Consider stereotypes, cultural norms, and current perceptions.
It seems like I can’t go a Sunday morning without seeing a Boomerang of clinking mimosas on Instagram.
As much as I love mimosas, this bothers me.
Look, I’m not here to rain on the basic bitch parade — if you’re on social media to have fun and cheers to living your best life, I support that. But if you are a person or brand that actually wants to be compelling, Boomerangs aren’t doing you any favors.
If you’re not familiar with Boomerangs, they are soundless, mini videos that play forward and backward. The animation adds a little bit of visual interest, but we could do better.
Here are three reasons why Boomerangs are not serving you or your audience.
Boomerangs have no context.
If you want your followers to think your content is interesting, you have to go a little further and give them details. Clinking glasses is boring, but if you tell me you’re drinking wine that has been aged fifteen years, that you’re celebrating your best friend’s engagement, or that you’re having dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants that I should try, now you’ve provided context. There’s a small storyline to get behind.
This same logic applies to businesses. Let’s say you run a boutique clothing store and you have new arrivals. Don’t just hold them on a hanger and create a dancing Boomerang. Instead, give your audience the details.
How much are these new arrivals?
Are they part of a seasonal trend I should know about?
Do they come in other colors?
What can you mix and match them with?
Can I buy them online?
As fun as Boomerangs are, it’s unlikely that they are compelling enough to inspire your audience to take action and do their own research. Adding some details will not only make their lives easier but will help them convert faster.
Can you entertain, educate, or inspire them with a more dynamic piece of content? Can you help them solve a problem?
Here are some alternative content ideas that can facilitate more value:
Do a live Q&A
Ask a question with the questions feature and share responses
Conduct a poll
Tell a story in your Stories (so obvious, right?)
Narrate a behind-the-scenes peek
All of these content ideas could engage and help your audience, rather than simply create social media clutter.
Boomerangs are a bad content shortcut.
Everyone knows that to win the content game, you have to post frequently. In fact, I encourage people and brands to post every single day.
Posting just to post actually works against you.
Boomerangs are bad content in disguise. They’re animated, fun, and relieve the pressure of what the heck to post for the day. But without context or value, they are a waste of your followers’ time and attention. Not to mention, they require hardly any effort on your part, and it shows.
You have to post GREAT, VALUABLE content, otherwise your audience will eventually tune you out.
Don’t lean on Boomerangs as a quick way to fill up your content calendar when you’re out of ideas. Instead, take your role as a content creator seriously and plan awesome content ahead of time. Be a person or brand that you’d want to follow.
If you need help planning out your content strategy, check out my course, Crush Your Content Calendar. I’ll teach you how to fill your social media channels with compelling content that serves your audiences, drives new followers, and builds your brand.
FREEBIE! To add value for your audience, you first have to know who they are and what they need! Download my free empathy map template to help jumpstart your audience research.
Every time I see another small business in my community shut its doors, I think about the 1998 modern classic, You’ve Got Mail.
I’ve never owned a brick-and-mortar business of my own, but Meg Ryan’s character helps me empathize with small business owners. I mean, it hit me hard when Kathleen Kelly was forced to close The Shop Around the Corner.
Instagram and Your Ideal Customer
You’ve Got Mail’s digitally-inspired storyline was ahead of its time, but it still came out before social media. Unlike The Shop Around the Corner, small businesses today can market with Instagram.
I follow many local businesses on Instagram — businesses that I love and want to stick around. But after seeing one common mistake repeated on so many posts, I feel it is my civic duty to offer this somewhat counterintuitive advice:
Small businesses need to think small.
I know, our whole lives we are told to think big, so what gives?
Well, your business needs to reach your target market to succeed — the smallest viable market. You can best accomplish this on Instagram via smaller, less competitive hashtags.
Why Your Hashtags Aren’t Working
If you’re a local business, your ideal customer is local, too. Your most qualified audience likely lives within a five to fifteen mile radius of your storefront. With this in mind, small businesses need to shift their hashtag strategy from a mass marketing approach to a hyperlocal one.
Here’s a statistic for you: an estimated 95 million images are added to Instagram every day.
Although hashtags help distribute your images to the right people, the sheer volume of posts makes this a challenge. And don’t even get me started on the algorithm…
This is why small businesses need to stop competing for super broad hashtags in their business category. If you already have a low following, the likelihood that your post gets seen is even slimmer.
Localized Hashtags in Action
Let’s use a local bridal boutique in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as an example.
When posting a picture of a gorgeous dress on Instagram, you may feel compelled to include the hashtag, #wedding to get it in front of brides browsing for wedding inspiration. If you search this hashtag within Instagram, you’ll see it has 169 million posts.
Competition aside, the main problem is that this hashtag has no local modifiers. This means you’re not putting your content in front of people in your area. Your post would get lost in the shuffle on Instagram feeds all over the world. Remember, your most qualified customers are right there in your community.
A better approach would be to revise this hashtag to #fortlauderdalewedding. In comparison, this hashtag has only 5,000 posts and is likely being searched by your next potential client.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. This same bridal boutique could apply this hyperlocal logic with the remaining 29. Simply adding an “s” with #fortlauderdaleweddings is a start, as well as #southfloridaweddings, #fortlauderdalebride, etc.
Developing Hyperlocal Hashtags
If you want your small business to have big success on Instagram, include hashtags with your city and nearby cities on every post and build from there. Your ideal audience will now have a higher chance of finding you.
But don’t forget, engaging on Instagram is also crucial. Like, comment, and be social!