Connect to your Audience
Information overload, over stressed clients combined with a society that is addicted to devices and instant gratification bring about new challenges. Any content must contain a snappy, enticing message to have any chance to gain people’s attention.
The good news – there are several fairly easy and straightforward strategies that can give you a creative edge and attract your viewers. Societal norms change and even the approach to communication, but people will always crave and seek acknowledgement.
Why is Facebook so popular?
Let’s take a moment to look at what commonalities are present that appeal to our audience. What are things that drive us that we fight to resist but are so tempting?
Enter a marketer’s dream combination: Social Media and Human Nature.
People seem to love being active participants and actually heard instead of just passively watching information. If you find yourself addicted to the need to post your opinion on a post and either snap back or agree on an issue you feel strongly, you are not alone. It appears we all love the fact that we can post something and people who we will likely never meet agree or respond. Good or bad, Facebook is certainly addicting!
So if you can’t beat the temptation, why not make it work for you?
1. Create a fun community environment!
I have a closed Facebook page to engage customers and the outpour of support has been amazing. One of the most popular things I love to do with my customers is have contests. Clever ideas that are fun and engaged people like having a contest for the most romantic pet pictures in their pet daycares on Valentine’s Day. I offered a prize to the winner; but I feel the biggest reward is to be a contestant and have a chance to win the contest. I love FaceBook for the ability to ask questions to a broad audience and see what or who pops up. I also love that people seem to constantly check on Facebook to make sure they don’t miss any news.
2. Provide specifics and helpful information.
In the pet industry, you can never have too many peer counselors with good advice. If I know someone who is good with specific topics like; daycare, grooming, retail, training, etc., you can ask if they would be willing to share a tip or two. Most are flattered and are happy to help give suggestions. We also have weekly feature tips and provide links to PDFs, articles and or other information to direct them. My favorite observation is what I like to call the smart factor. There is almost always someone in the group who has a fabulous answer to even the toughest questions or issues.
3. Be actively involved.
Most things in life need care as does your online presence. You can’t expect people to join or follow a forum with nothing interesting to view. No one likes to be ignored – so remember that you need to pop in and monitor daily, and usually several times daily. If you can not commit, then either find someone who can or wait until you’re ready.
4. Expect the unexpected!
One of the things I’ve found is that people on Facebook tend to be more brave about saying exactly how they feel and little spats among members need to be addressed quickly. Be prepared also for someone to use the platform to be negative and challenge you. When a customer directs frustration at you, you have the power to respond in a kind, helpful and non threatening manner to deflate the anger. Never, no matter how tempting, get into an ego match with a client. What generally happens is people will jump in to defend an out of line comment. If the client is abusive, you can always block them from the group.
5. Set ground rules for the group
Make sure that any private group you manage, has rules. Keep the message positive and set the criteria for whatever you think is the most important. Below is a edited segment example:
“This is not the place to peddle your products, or not play well with other member. Our goal is to collaborate and share ideas and tips with other peers around the world.
Any member that abuses these privileges fails the temperament test and will be removed from the group.
Team members will assist with moderation but much of the time members will be off the leash to express ideas, goals, tips and best practices. We feel that this is the best way for both seasoned members and pups to help each other in our rapidly expanding group.
We also are open to displaying non-profit animal related organizations that promote education and rescue efforts around the country. We want to be a resource for any good practices for the important members of our community.”
6. Use your platform for good.
One of the very best things about a closed forum is how helpful the peers are to each other. The ability to attract a large network for no cost and be able to share ideas and experiences is a huge value for you and your customers.
More valuable than any income, is the connecting of someone with need to someone with help.
7. Show your true nature.
You may not realize it, but people are constantly watching and evaluating your reactions and how you treat them. From the nature of your page to the way the communication flows among the members, they form perceptions. When you put yourself out in the public arena, you are always taking a risk.
Pet Businesses tend to be more social in nature and the more connection you have personally, the more you have to protect what you project. It isn’t always easy to show your vulnerable side and put yourself out there, but in the end, the risk is generally worth the reward. If you can’t take the heat, you might want to evaluate if you are willing to open yourself up to whatever comes.
Are you up to the challenge? You never know until you try!
Use the powerful Facebook platform as well as others to make a positive impact and engage those you serve. No matter your position, you have the ability to make a difference. Communicate with intention – it’s how we are all connected.
Ready to start a group? This link > can get you started!
Paula’s dream has always been to bridge the disconnect between technology and the pet care community. She enjoys helping her ‘packmates’ discover the countless ways that working in tandem with a system improves efficiency, stress, and gives them more time to focus on nurturing their pet guests.