A few years ago when I was living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I remember seeing something that made me laugh out loud early one morning while I was walking home to my apartment. Passing our neighborhood hardware store at the corner of 88th and 3rd, I caught glimpse of a bright pink-colored flyer taped on the inside of their storefront window that said: Follow us now on twitter! It stopped me dead in my tracks, my immediate thought being ‘Who on Earth would want to follow a hardware store on twitter? How exciting would that be? That’s totally ridiculous.’ Is it?
This was about two years ago, and I’ve since come to understand that not only have I still got a lot to learn about the more curious and seemingly absurd aspects of human nature (you’d be surprised at what people can become utterly fascinated with, including the latest news in the exciting world of hardware), but in the fundamental truths behind social media and how it’s supposed to be utilized. Basically there are two key things to keep in mind:
- It’s got nothing to do with the product
- It’s about strengthening your brand
Let’s face it, the vast majority of consumer products out there aren’t that exciting: underarm deodorant, patio furniture, cat litter, beef jerky . . . you get the point. But it really doesn’t matter how dull you might think your product is, because really good social media makes emotion and branding the foundation of all smart campaigns. And if you do enough research, you’ll find out that it’s those campaigns that get results.
Your aim should be to make people smile and laugh, shake their head in utter disbelief, or do a double take. If you can’t do that with an explanation of your ‘uninteresting’ product, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get creative. Think back on all the incredibly inventive and entertaining TV commercials you’ve seen over the years. What were they peddling? That’s right, underarm deodorant, patio furniture, cat litter, and beef jerky . . . or in other words . . . boring stuff that they made fun at least for 30 seconds.
The goal of all business-related things within the social media realm is to get people to spend money at your store or on your website. When your brand speaks to people on an emotional level, it generally makes them more likely to bust out their wallet and drop some dough. With that in mind, simply start telling people in a creative way why your brand is better than everyone else’s in your industry. Yeah, at first they might think you’re crazy and just dismiss you altogether, but gradually, they’ll warm up to the idea and begin to associate your brand with what they want. That’s called building brand equity, and it takes a good amount of time and inspired effort. But it can be done.
So if your industry is a tad on the boring side, like say hardware (yawn), then the bar is already fairly low, so realistically it shouldn’t be too hard to make your brand stand out from the pack right? As a final thought: I shouldn’t be so callous with regard to following a hardware store on twitter. Who knows, maybe there’s something more to nails, light bulbs, and extension chords that I’ve yet to discover.