Did you ever play “telephone” when you were a kid? Remember how funny it was to have someone start a message, then hear something totally garbled at the end after each friend whispered the message in the next person’s ear? Well, it’s not so funny when this happens to your branding message. Today we’ll focus on getting your message heard on social media and other platforms.
You want your ENTIRE market to hear your message loud and clear!
But, just like your child’s game of telephone, your message is likely to get garbled or never reach some members of your market. Looking at the graphic above, we see that organic social media reach (the unpaid portion of your social media) declined precipitously over the last few years as social media platforms promote paid advertising. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know this as you’ve seen it in your own metrics. As you can see, the average organic reach for a social media post is less than 5% for Facebook and 10% for Instagram, two of the largest social media platforms in the world.
But, the problem of getting your message heard by your target market doesn’t stop with reach. There’s also the problem of eliciting action among those who did hear the message, which is harder to fix. And, unless folks click on your message, you don’t have the opportunity to
Getting your message heard means you have to:
- Make sure your message is consistent across media, including social media
- Repeat your message frequently
- Control your message to achieve clarity
- Ensure the message resonates with your target market
- Offer clear, enticing calls to action (CTAs)
- Match landing pages to the post so those who do click through get exactly what they expect
- Make the checkout process super easy, with no surprise charges
That’s easier said than done. Here’s why (and how to fix it):
Getting your message heard
Problem #1: Consistency
Unless elements of your messages shared across different media and in different campaigns are consistent, it’s like each post is unique. As we’ll see in the next section, it takes multiple exposures to a message before you’re likely to impact consumer attitudes or drive clicks. Experts offer different views on the necessary ad frequency with some at the low end of three times per campaign while others advocate for a high end of 10. We assume the same holds for organic posts.
Creating consistency relies on both visual elements, such as using the logo, color palette, and font in all posts, and non-visual elements, such as voice, messaging, and posting schedule. It’s a fine line between posting to achieve optimal frequency and posting so much that you face ad burnout, which creates negative attitudes.
Why does this happen?
Often different people are in charge of different media. If these people don’t coordinate with each other, your message won’t be coordinated either. Everyone’s out there with a different message creating an image of your brand that isn’t clear or consistent. Think about Chevy, for instance. What does that brand mean to you? Likely that’s muddled as the advertising from dealers differs from that produced by the manufacturer. New contracts with dealers try to fix this problem as well as offering ads the dealers can quickly edit to include their branding. Contrast that with Apple. What does the Apple brand mean to you? With Apple, the brand is carefully controlled so not only does the message remain consistent but the products fit within that branding. And we know which brand commands a huge price premium — Apple. So, there’s measurable value in having a clear, consistent brand image.
Messaging should be at the corporate level. Various units must implement the corporate message strategy and each implementation tested using an independent panel to ensure the message is on point.
For small businesses, inconsistencies often occur because social media isn’t a priority. Thus, some days messages don’t go out or get slapped together and hastily posted. The image above shows some ways to fix this problem, including reducing the workload by using marketing automation tools like Buffer to schedule messages in one sitting. Creating a content calendar also makes the process easier and aids consistency.
Problem #2: Frequency
Cutting through the clutter is hard especially as the number of posts on social media platforms explodes (see below). Everyone is talking, so how do you make sure people HEAR your message? Not only do you have a vast amount of advertising that consumers are exposed to every day, but consumers are busy people who don’t really care about hearing your message.
Amplify your message. Ensure you share a consistent message frequently although not so much that burnout happens. Make sure folks share your message through engagement–likes, shares, and comments. If you read the linked post, you’ll find examples of content that leads to engagement. We KNOW these messages reach more of your market and, because recommendations from friends are more powerful than your own posts, they resonate more with your market and drive clicks.
Influencer marketing is another option to increase the frequency of your messaging as well as gain clicks.
Problem #3: Control your message
This is a huge problem, especially if you’re using social media to spread your message because so many people are involved in the process. In the old days, brands controlled the message because they had the loudest voice (advertising on platforms like TV with huge reach). Today, consumers control your message to a large extent and their voice carries more than your own since users tend to engage with other users more than with your content. But, your only option is to shut down social media conversations, which isn’t optimal and may not even be legal.
So you need to find a way to share through social media without losing control of your message.
Prepare sharable social media using links, visual elements, and pdfs. These tools invite people to share the whole without transforming it much.
Also, monitor what people are saying about your brand on social media. If what they’re saying isn’t accurate or doesn’t share the right message, you can tactfully correct the perception. In fact, this kind of dialogue creates a community that increases sharing of your message. It’s never a good idea to argue with a negative comment about your brand but you can apologize if you failed in some way and be transparent about the ways you fixed or will fix the problem. Counteract negative comments by encouraging reviews from customers and highlighting positive comments about your brand on social media.
Problem #4: Ensure your message resonates
Speak their language. Each group of consumers has its own culture — its own way of speaking to each other, its own values, its own symbols … We call this “field of experience”. Unless you speak their language, they won’t understand your message accurately. Sometimes something as simple as using images that don’t match your target market can reduce the impact of your content. For instance, I once heard a presentation where a car ad was shown in three European countries and did much worse in two of them than in the third. It turned out that despite efforts to appear universal, such as not using words to show which country was targeted, a tiny piece of the license plate was visible and identified by the audience as reflecting the top-performing country. So, choose models and images that match your target market and platforms where they hang out.
Get to know your market intimately. Get to know them, their micro-culture, and what’s meaningful to them. Be like the anthropologist studying the natives. Hiring staff to work on social media that reflect your target market also helps.
Social media tends to be much less formal than other forms of marketing communication regardless of your target market. And, perfection isn’t necessary. A catchy TikTok video will do much better than a more polished commercial-quality video regardless of your target. Just take time to check the spelling and grammar, although certain errors aren’t mistakes but reflect the nuanced language of your target market. Plus, even a TikTok should show good lighting and a steady camera that’s focused rather than blurry.
Problem #5: Clear CTAs
In an effort to appear non-promotional, some firms don’t use a CTA in every post. But, there are ways to include a CTA without beating users over the head with high-pressure sales efforts. After all, it doesn’t help to get your message heard if you don’t encourage users to respond in a way that supports your goals.
For instance, you might include a link to your website for folks to learn more about your efforts to support the local community without it appearing promotional. If you host a summer little league team, you might post pictures and scores on your website to both promote your social actions and support your SEO by attracting more visitors (and repeat visitors) to your website, increasing the time on site, and your consistency in posting fresh content.
Problem #6: Landing pages
A landing page can be any page on your website. We call it a landing page when you drive traffic to that page from other marketing efforts, including social media.
Match landing pages to the post so those who do click through get exactly what they expect. It’s a huge mistake to send visitors to your home page from a post or ad on social media. In the example above where you toute your support for a local team, the proper landing page is the one about that team. If you make a discount offer, the page should provide product details and demonstrate how to get the discount. Instead, send clicks to a landing page customized to match the campaign.
Don’t worry about having too many landing pages, as there’s no such thing. In fact, sites with more landing pages convert at higher rates than those with only a few landing pages. Websites with 10-15 landing pages saw a 55% increase in conversions while those with over 40 landing pages saw a jump of 500%. The rationale for so many landing pages and their superior performance has to do with problem #4, gaining traction with different groups within your target market, called segments. By tailoring your messaging, CTA, and images to a specific target market, you vastly improve your chances of conversion.
Problem #7: User experience
Make the checkout process super easy, with no surprise charges at the end, or users will abandon the cart. That really goes for your entire website where a superior user experience generates better results in terms of SEO and conversion.
Use logical navigation and layouts with a lot of white space to make it easier to use your website. Bullet points, headings, subheadings, and images make your content easier to read. Think of usability for the limitations of your target market, as well. For instance, older users find white text on a dark background harder to read while younger users find this appealing and modern. Some demographic groups want to see vivid colors while others want them to be more subdued.
Getting your message heard isn’t easy but there are things you can do to improve your chances of not only getting your message heard but driving action to support your brand. I detailed seven problems that occur frequently and how to fix these problems. Obviously, there’s a lot more I could say on this topic and I have on other pages of this website. So take some time to navigate around to find other resources to help you get your message heard and other ways to support your marketing to achieve your goals.
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.