How to politely yet assertively market on social media

Matej
Matej Trajkovski
@whiletrueburn
Updated: 24/11/2018
not so polite
or just drop the whole 'polite' act altogether

As the profession of the online marketer of any kind gradually shifts from using email as the primary means of communication to using social media, there's a lot of possibilities for the techniques and best practices of yore to improve and be done in the correct way this time. We live in a historic time, we have a shot to finally rebuild the sales funnel, and actually get it right this time. That means focusing on the user instead of the marketer, while still having the marketer taken care of.

I could do an entire new article on why social media is superior to email, for now let's just go with the axiom that social media will take over the lead as the preferred means of contact in online marketing. Many people have stated that email sucks, and while I think they're looking at it the wrong way and try to use it to solve a different problem with it than what was intended, I gotta go with the crowd here - email is kinda ok for marketing and sales, but it kinda sucks too. Or at the very least, it is inferior or extremely vulnerable to the process that social media marketing might develop.

Let's learn from the mistakes of the past.

Offer value

It's all starts with the value. Nearly every niche is saturated with competition. If a niche is not saturated by competition, it will be in a month. Have you heard of the way the biggest country and government-regulated producer in the world operates? They see something that works, and they immediately copy it. I'm pretty sure there's at least one great replica of the Eiffel tower in China somewhere. If your business is producing something offline, man, good luck. If you're online like us, expect that there are at least three identical long—lost twins to your product working inside the Great Chinese Firewall. And that's just China, the rest of the world is only slightly worse at copying things. The only difference is we might call it 'learning' when it happens in the Western civilization. Azure learned from Amazon. Facebook learned from Snapchat.

facebook vs snapchat
it was very educational

And of course, we learned from some other (*cough* lesser *cough*) tools as well. While all that iteration on features is great for the consumer and drives prices down, it makes the job of the producer many times harder. Trust me, not a day goes by without me fearing what features my competitors might learn from me. That's why the value you can offer is the only acceptable entrance you have with your customers. If you don't do it, your competitor will, and they will win. Whatever value you can offer, do it. The three basic ways in which you can do this are educating, rewarding, and entertaining. Do all of them.

Educate

This is your most powerful weapon for reaching audiences online. The Internet is all about the information, and the more you can offer it, and the more useful it is, the better shot you have of standing out. Don't be shy here. If you've been doing something for more than 6 months, you can already offer your take and experience. Sure, you can come up with opinions only, and you should actually do that every now and then, but what you've learned in the trenches will be far more valuable to your audience. Also, when sharing your experience, both you and your audience win. It is one thing to kinda be familiar with a concept or a topic, but it does you infinitely more good to try and write an entire article about it, do the research around it a little bit, and formulate it in a clear and understandable format. What you felt you knew, now you'll know you know. You will learn from your audience too. Maybe they'll share something you've missed, or they'll build on your experience and suggest improvements. Maybe they'll bitterly disagree and force you to defend your position. That will teach you even more. Offering your experience and value is a huge win for everybody.

Reward

Whatever value it is you're offering, be prepared to give it away every now and then. Maybe this doesn't apply for a select luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Maserati, but it works for everyone else. Everyone! Even Facebook gave me a $10 bonus in ads yesterday (I hate ads so I'll probably do something stupid with those $10, I'm taking suggestions :)). If Facebook can find a way to do it, so should you. Organize contests, you can even ask for users to produce content to qualify, and then you double win when you post the winner. Surprise random people with little bundles of value like discounts or freebies. That gets you exposure, trust, and good karma.

Entertain

We're all human here, and we all need to laugh in between looking at those horrid spreadsheets and long emails. Most people will find a way to have some fun online. If you're the one providing it, while educating and offering value, you strengthen your relationship with them. There are some caveats here, but nothing major. For starters, if you're not funny, go home and cry. No. That was a joke :). If you're not funny, you can try and learn. I just tried to be funny by saying you should go home and cry. You should try and improve if you think there's room for improvement (there always is). Your biggest worry won't be not being funny. Nobody will hate you for an unsuccessful joke every now and then. But people will hate you for a joke that clearly insults them. This is another major topic, best discussed at length with your close circle of friends, family, mentor, priest, therapist, and imaginary friend. Just don't be an asshole, that's the point I'm trying to make. As long as you stay away from hateful talk you should be fine. Go light and easy, some dad joke is a better bet than, say, an elaborate insight into subtle differences between people of different races or nationalities. You're not Bill Burr yet, and people are easily offended these days, so go as harmless as you can. But you should still have fun on social media, that's one of the key points, so share some of that fun. If you can find something funny about your niche, that's awesome. Even observations into something that seems common are great. If not, then anything you feel is entertaining should do the trick. If everyone is sharing a funny or cute video, guess what? You can share it too. If it's shared by a lot of people, it's probably safe enough, and it certainly is entertaining. No need to be the independent leader and contrarian here. Sharing is your friend here. I love Reddit for this, subreddits like:

/funny
/pics
/gifs
/videos
/mildlyinteresting
/aww

are all great sources of material. /jokes has some gems too, but often the jokes are, mm, how should we put this, not appropriate for a serious brand to post on their wall let’s say. There are also tons of Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, Youtube channels and Instagram personas that can serve this purpose. A simple share is more than enough to keep your audience awake when scrolling through your feed.

sleepy kid
Hey! Keep up, we're only half way through!

Target

This is the huge win of social media for marketing. You have some of the largest collections of data available to you mostly for free, already sorted, indexed and searchable. Please, please, try hard to find the right people. You'll be wasting your time and the time of your wrongly selected lead if you don't target properly. It is far more efficient to spend an hour talking to the right person than to spend 20 * 3 minutes talking to twenty wrong people. This works especially well if you're still prototyping your product or testing your market. If you're not, I suggest a little different approach, with the similar properties borrowed from lean methodologies. You'll want to find a bunch of leads, split them in three groups based on how much you think they are influential in your community or how good would it be to have the as your customers. Then start with the weakest group. Learn on them, try to see what you're doing wrong in your approach based on the interaction with them. This sounds deceptively simple, but measuring is hard and finding what your weak spots are is nearly impossible without the help of someone who has been through a similar experience. Still, try your best. Repeat that with the second group. When you reach the third group, you will have the best, most thoroughly prepared approach ready for the people whose opinion would matter the most.

Ask

This is your entire raison d'etre on social media (pardon my French, but I love that phrase). As there's tons of competition already, you must distinguish yourself by offering value a lot, but in essence you're doing that to gain leverage so that you can do your ask in an ethical and socially acceptable way. Your initial cold message is very important. I've seen pretty decent result with a simple, clear and direct way of initiating contact with your leads. If you're in a hurry and don't have time to figure this out on your own right now, give this baby a spin. The formula might look something like this:

1) intro: Hi [lead name], my name is [your name]
2) why: I see you're also into [industry/niche/books/games/incredibly sarcastic jokes that border on assholery/your niche or field, or even genuinely common ground]. We should connect.
3) value: You might find [product/service] extremely useful because we're [harder/better/stronger/faster/your value proposition].
4) optional value if it applies: I'm sending you a [promo code/coupon/referral code] so that you have an [extended trial/discount/free pass].
5) ask: It would be great if you could [try/test/check out/register]. Let me know if you need anything else.

If I've already bothered you with this kind of message anywhere, I'd love to hear from you what you think and what I could have done better. The upside of this approach is its downside - it's very personalized, which is good because it has a higher chance to connect, and it's bad because you basically have to work on each contact individually, so it can get a little slow. I use it for people I think are a very good fit for my product or are an established social media professional that I would love to have as a customer. If you're going for speed, or your leads are not that qualified or important, you only change the why into a weaker, more generic one. The 'I see you're also a [Manchester United fan/LOTR reader/weirdly specific thing lover]' becomes 'I see you're also into social media marketing'. Very decent as well. Never be ashamed, anxious or timid. You have value to offer, to the people that need that kind of value you will be an asset and an investment. If you don't offer any value, then, mm, don't do this. I'm experimenting a lot with this, and I'll definitely do a big, dedicated post on it since it is huge. There are so many things to explore and play with here. If you learn only one thing from this paragraph, let it be this: offer value and ask.

show me the money
I've heard asking them to show you the money works too

And ask again

Have you noticed those people that put 'please like this it means a lot' or 'please share this or 17 young dolphins will get depressed' in their every post? Yeah, I hate that too. And I do that too as well. Why? Because it works. It's strange, almost like, people are listening to you... If you share value, you're entitled to ask this in a way. And it works. So do it.

Be persistent, but never boring

I'm sure your inbox, both email and social media, has at least one person that can't stop sending you messages. She just can't, and you're forced to either mark as spam or block. Well, unless you're determined on building a shitty product and pushing it strictly with spam, don't do that. Since you're truly offering value, and as my grandmother loves to say, we're not on this Earth for only one day, you'll want to gravitate towards building good relationships with people as much as you can, even with those that don't buy from you or completely reject your product, and maybe your personality a little bit (don't worry, you're fine as you are). There's no such thing as a lost sale. That person will be a different person in three months, and so will you, and so will your product, and so will the world, but they will remember if and how much you valued their time, opinion, and energy spent on talking to you. No means no, but after a respectful number of weeks, it might turn back into maybe.

coffee is for closers only
say 'sales' three times and Alec Baldwin materializes to start yelling at you

Work hard

If I could sum up the best advice ever given in two words, it would be this. You'll find plenty of naysayers here, trying to persuade you that you can get by with 40 hours a week just fine, and they'll try and give you examples of how their lives dramatically improved after cutting some work and spending time to fill their inner soul well in Tibet or whatever. For me, that has never worked, and I doubt it will for you. It's really simple, you'll get more done in 12 hours than in 8. You'll get even more done in 16. I've yet to see the dreaded day when I 'burn out'. Not even sure that's a real thing. It's probably got more to do with the stress than the actual work. If you're a true hustler, you probably deeply enjoy your work, and it doesn't cause you any stress. For me it's the same as playing basketball - I can never burn out playing basketball. You actually feel a little anxious when you've been not working for a long time, like an entire day or something. I guess people might burn out if they have some asshole bosses, or some truly terrible issues pressing on them outside of work. If it's just you and your hustle, you can't burn out. So put in some extra hours. You'll actually save time in the long run because you'll succeed faster and then you'll be able to reduce the working hours as much as you like. Maths.

Work fast

Remember above when we talked about competition? Well, add to that the increasing development of AI by the tech giants, each looking for a way to replace your small business by some piece of awesome code that has the world's best and biggest datasets to learn from. If you're doing something online, chances are there's a department in Google made up of some brilliant minds from various disciplines working hard on a product similar to yours. Also, there are a bunch of other people similar to you, with similar drive and hunger, working on the same idea right now. You know you, and you know you can be a real nightmare to your competition. Gotta watch out for the other yous too. Gotta move faster. Respond to your leads faster. Engage them more. The sooner you turn them into customers, the more time you buy for yourself.

Be there

Probably everyone who has dabbled in social media has left some of their profiles dead for a time. It pains me to type this since I've been skipping a lot of days lately, leaving my profiles with week-old tweets. I could make up an excuse, but instead I'm gonna follow my own advice. This is no longer acceptable. There might be a day, or God forbid, two, that you might skip on a terrible occasion such as your hamster getting sick, but you have to be present all the time. You've got spammers, bots and underpaid outsourced workers to compete against, and they are always there. The best you can do is match them. Don't push it with too much content, consistency is far superior, but don't skip days unless you absolutely have to.

the gekko
running out of ways to reference iconic rogue sales heroes here

I see you're into reading long articles on improving your business and social media presence. We might become partners or cooperate soon. In implementing all of these advices, you'll find HustleCool totally useful. It would be great if you could give it a shot and let me know what you think :).

The ultimate goal of the social media marketer is profit. HustleCool is here to help you make that process x10 times easier!