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SNL vs. ACL: How Targeted Messaging Creates Loyalty

How to find the right marketing channel.

Those of us who were “made in the 80’s” have grown into the professional world alongside Facebook (born in 2004) and other platforms like YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), Pinterest and Instagram (both 2010). Today in 2015, our social media activity holds incredibly deep insights into our identities and – more deeply than ever – our needs and desires.

Saturday Night Live vs. Austin City Limits

Every Saturday evening, I make a critical decision between Saturday Night Live on NBC and Austin City Limits on PBS. While Saturday Night Live broadcasts a crowd-pleasing plethora of hit-or-miss sketches sugared by the celebrity and music du jour, smaller shows like Austin City Limits have built a cult-like following with a focused, straightforward format that showcases just one thing: Great live music.

These two shows are the perfect analogy for a small business’ digital marketing strategy. Do you try to be everywhere and please everyone, or should you focus on one thing and be really stinking good at it? It’s Microsoft vs. Apple, Jiffy Lube vs. the dealership, or Walmart vs. your local grocery store.

Chances are, more of your audience watches SNL than ACL, but which group is more passionate or engaged?

Shoot for quality over quantity.

Where does your core audience hang out online? What do they do on those platforms?

Go beyond the shallow logic of statements like: “Lots of young people are using Vine, so we should use it, too!”

What are your marketing goals? Who are your people? What do your people like? Where are they (literally) liking it? What are others doing in your industry? Go forth and adapt your message accordingly.

Work hard to gather a tribe. (Google likes it that way.)

Wherever you connect with your audience, do your best to bring those people to your hub: blog posts, landing pages and other content on your website.

With Google’s recent “mobilegeddon” buzz, repeat visitors – especially on mobile devices – mean higher SEO rankings for your site. Every time Google changes its algorithm, high-quality, original content becomes more valuable.

What does it take to gather a loyal audience? Consistency, adaptability, and strategic placement.

1. Consistency. Publish thoughtful blog posts, update your web pages with the best information, and stick to a schedule. Consistency comes with a pattern of posts and activity on your site. We could go on and on about the SEO benefits of recurring influxes of traffic, but that’s for another post. This post is about how to achieve that pattern of traffic with the right channels.

2. Adaptability. Let’s say you have a bicycle store, and you need to sell more of those smooth-gliding roadster bikes. You might start with a blog post and then share it on Facebook. Since Facebook business pages have nearly 0% organic reach, you’ll need to target a Facebook ad to college-aged people who live in your area, who have free time and enjoy the outdoors. Boom. Reached.

But what about something visual like Instagram? That takes a whole ‘nother visual style for your post. The headline of your original blog post “25% off roadster bikes in May!” might look a little odd. Maybe you could crowdsource an image of someone using your roadster bike and caption it with “Where would you take this #roadsterbike in #SiouxFalls? Want one? Find the link in our bio.” (Side note: Hashtags are incredibly important for reaching a wider audience that is interested in a certain topic. We’ve written about how to find the right hashtags for local businesses here on our automotive marketing blog.)

Howbout email? With good inbound marketing tactics in place, you should be able to come up with a list of customers who have expressed interest in a roadster bike, or people who bought bikes a few years ago and might be due for an upgrade. For a subject, I would suggest something to the effect of “25% off roadster bikes for email subscribers” and then you could include that photo that you posted on Instagram.

These are just a few (pretty weak) examples of how you could get started adapting your message to a particular platform. With a regular stream of content (see #1) you’ll begin to see insights on engagement and traffic to see what your audience really enjoys. And, as people shift from platform to platform, they’ll begin to see more depth and consistency in your brand.

3. Strategic placement. Get some insights for social media. More specifically, know where your audience hangs out, and when they hang out there. It’s one thing to create a pattern of reliably great posts, but it’s another thing to put those posts in the right place at the right time. Using social media marketing tools like HubSpot, HootSuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer, you should gather some insights into your own database of contacts to find out where and when they hang out online. Many of these tools can be used free with a basic package, with paid upgrades for more insights and features.

In the same way that your message adjusts to the platform (see #2), the topics of your message may also fit better on certain platforms. Maybe you’ll find that roadster bikes receive better engagement on Snapchat than in other places. (Maybe that’s a good opportunity to sell some handlebar cell phone mounts.)

Keep creating. Keep measuring.

A positive trend in website traffic doesn’t come without positive changes – which can often take weeks or months. As you consistently create new content and share links to it in strategic places at strategic times, people will become more familiar with your brand and its place in their world – a great recipe for sales.

These days, anyone can get broad attention by lampooning a President, but how many marketeers can gather and engage a group of people around a specific type of content?

I guess what it really boils down to is passion. I think most people would rather follow something that means more to a few, rather than something that means less to most.

That’s why I usually end my Saturday evenings with Austin City Limits. To me, there’s nothing better than carefully crafted content that – while it may not be for everybody – is perfect for a few. Meaningful content in the right place at the right time is a powerful thing, especially online.

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What works for you? Have you found success in adapting your message to different platforms?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Need to generate more leads? Looking to grow your tribe of followers? Juice up your digital marketing with help from our library of free ebooks:


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Image: schmilblick

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