It’s easy to get lost in a sea of thousands of books, articles, blogs, or masterclasses on social media strategies for your business, all with their opinions on how to hack the algorithm, when the best time is to post, the latest trends, overviews of the different platforms, ideas for different kinds of content to create, great tips for taking better iPhone photos, or inspirational stories of other businesses that are crushing it.

But even with all this great information, the vast majority of businesses get little-to-no engagement on their posts outside of their own employees, their friends/family members, or the employees and friends of the agencies who run their social media accounts.

And that’s because 99.9% of businesses/organizations online make their social media about them.

Friendly reminder: nobody cares about you (other than you).

Who do they care about? (Hint: it’s selfish)

People love brands because of the way those brands make them feel – not because they actually care about the company.

It’s simple human nature. And it’s why most companies fall flat online because they spend all their time and energy trying to talk about their products and services in a more interesting way, when fundamentally, no one is all that interested.

But this is actually a great thing – I’d argue perhaps the most liberating idea in the world for a marketer.

Because, what if, rather than spending all your time and energy trying to make your products and services interesting (which is actually really hard after a few times), you instead focus on actually taking an interest in your customers:

Here’s another way of saying it: make everything you do online about them and notabout you.

In the greatest branding book I’ve ever half-read, Building a Storybrand, Donald Miller uses classic stories and story structure to help us understand tried and true marketing and branding principles in the simplest way. Here’s my favourite one:

You are not Luke Skywalker (the hero). You are Yoda (the helper).

It’s your job to simply be a guide and a friend to your customers as you help them on theirjourney.

Now. Your immediate thought is going to be, “But my product/service is EXACTLY what they need for their journey!”

That’s what we call really small thinking. Or transactional thinking. Because you’re selling yourself short.

If your customers only need you when they are thinking about buying something, you’re only relevant a tiny portion of the time.

But if you can figure out how to be useful to your customer when they don’t need to buy something, then you can have their attention all of the of time.

Notice Yoda didn’t just hand Luke a bomb for the Death Star? That’s technically the product that he needed to blow it up, but what he really needed was a community of people around him that believed in the mission and believed in him.

You can actually do this for your customers. When you know what your brand stands for, you can begin taking that story and using it to empower customers on their own journeys.

That’s called building a community.

It’s what rallies people together behind Nike – the belief in themselves to Just Do It.

It’s what made people go nuts to have the latest Apple product – they wanted to be in group of people who Think Different.

It’s why people will forgive the odd faux-pas from Dove – because they appreciate a brand that celebrates Real Beauty.

Great brands bring people together around something that isn’t just about their products. It’s about a feeling, a belief that the customer has that their lives are better off and they are going to do more because of their relationship with the brand.

Go all-in on creating content (and I’d say marketing as a whole) by focusing on these keys:

  1. Go all-in on what makes you WEIRD.

People don’t want to feel ordinary – they want to be special. Your brand needs to polarize and show what makes you weird and different so people can be attracted to it. Mediocrity is not attractive. Post stuff that celebrates your brand of weird that people can see themselves in.

2. Care LOUDLY about stuff.

Pick some causes you believe in and get LOUD about them. People that align with your brand can easily champion and celebrate these things. It shows more of who you are, that you care, and that you’re unselfish in celebrating others.

3. Give a SHED-load of value

Remember, your job in a community is to make the lives of everyone around you better because you’re there. How can you help people’s journeys be easier, more fun, inspire some hope in them, or give them a reprieve from tough circumstances? Entertain, educate, celebrate – share stuff that they will enjoy! They’ll want to follow you 365 days a year instead of only the days they need to buy something.

4. Move FAST

Perfection is the enemy. No one’s perfect and you don’t have to be either. Trying to make something that looks/sounds/feels perfect will take you 10 times as long as 10 pieces that are good enough. Plus, stuff that’s too polished doesn’t feel authentic. Keep your ear to the ground of what’s going on in the world as it relates to your customers and respond quickly.

5. SHARE the Journey

Rather than trying to come up with good content for social, focus on simply doing good things for your customers. Then document what you’re doing. Send a cake to a customer’s work randomly for their birthday. Buy a 100 coffees and hand them out downtown. Find someone who embodies what you stand for and throw them a surprise party. Just document what you’re doing because it’s who you are and the journey your business is on.

6. Think BIGGER

People want to be a part of something bigger than them. And when they see your business trying to punch above its weight class, it’s inspiring to them. Even if you come up short, trying something big rallies people together. Plus, sometimes you’ll actually DO something BIG and that’s good for everyone! Try and do something impossible and document it.

7. Fail. A lot.

A lot of brands are afraid to “fail” publicly for trying something that’s different. Thing is, mediocre, safe content goes NOWHERE and people don’t care at all. You have to – HAVE TO – swing for the fences and take risks. The best hitters in baseball are typically the ones who struck out the most. I’m not saying do stuff that’s off-brand or intentionally bad. But trying something you’ve never tried before is how you’re going to learn and grow – and often times that will end up being the best content.

But what’s the ROI of social media?

Ah yes, the classic question from executives and marketers who didn’t grow up in this world. Two things here:

  1. If you want to talk about “social media” as an advertising channel (which is only a very small part of it), then I’d ask what’s the ROI of a billboard, or your newspaper ad, or your latest TV campaign? 98% of businesses I’ve worked with don’t actually track the data on those campaigns in any detailed, meaningful way, other than theoretical impressions. The digital spaces give you a TON more metrics than any of those channels like average watch time, detailed demographics of the people who actually engaged with it, drop-off spots, impressions versus engagement, click-throughs, and a whole lot more that you don’t get without spending a ton on research in traditional channels.
  2. Social media is so much more than a 1-way advertising channel. Swap the term “social media” for “relationship media” and realize that it’s incredible because you can have real conversations and build real relationships with customers that have never stepped foot in the door of your business or purchased a product online. You can actually know your customers and they can know you without ever having done any business together. This is the most incredible competitive advantage to social media. Don’t be afraid of it – use it!

Put these things into practice and I believe you can have a world-wide impact with your company’s social media.