For local businesses, social media is critical to engaging local customers…but what do you do if you’re in a “boring” industry like finance or insurance? Is social media still a viable option?
After all, not many people want to socialize online with insurance agents…right?
Is Your Industry Conversational?
If you’re a bar or a concert venue, social media is an obvious way to connect with and entertain customers. But plumbers, accountants, and other “boring” industries may have a harder time engaging through social media.
Over the dinner table, for instance, people are more than happy to talk about local music events or new beers that they’ve discovered at the neighborhood bar.
Studies have shown that certain types of industries are more “conversational” than others. Movies, music, entertainment, sports, and similar industries earn twice as much conversation time as conversations about banking or medicine.
In fact, AgoraPulse found that the organic reach of Facebook Pages for certain verticals far outperformed the organic reach of others.
Top performers include industries like:
- Amateur sports teams
- The music industry
- Television programs
And industries with the lowest organic reach included:
- Musical instruments
- Tools and equipment
- Transportation and freight
And so on.
The bottom line: conversation drives social media, and if your industry is conversational, then it will perform better on social media.
There are Exceptions to Every Rule…
The key to successful marketing is capturing people’s attention. So, on the one hand, marketers could blame lackluster social media results on their industry. On the other hand, however, there are proven instances where “boring” industries have performed well…through creative marketing.
BlendTec blenders created a viral marketing campaign that did perform well on social media. By blending golf balls, an Apple Watch, and other unusual items, they managed to develop a marketing campaign that spread like wildfire.
Chipotle, likewise, used creative clay animation videos – with Coldplay songs sung by Willie Nelson – to earn 9 million views in a single year. Following that, the company created a free game to go with its next video, which earned 4 million views in the first week alone.
And this is a burrito chain.
Viral Lessons for Local Businesses
There are a couple takeaways from the above examples:
Creative social media marketing can be applied to any industry. The right creatives can turn any product or service into a viral success. The key is to hire creatives who can really think outside the box and develop campaigns that spread. Many businesses hesitate, however, since extremely creative campaigns can seem a bit risky.
Marketing that goes viral gets results. There are plenty of instances of businesses that used viral marketing to get results. Dove, the soap company, took a serious tone in its viral campaign, contrasting how women viewed themselves with how others see them. This campaign earned 3.8 million shares, 15,000 new YouTube subscribers, and the Titanium Grand Prix award from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
And there are plenty of examples of other companies in “boring” industries that use creative, viral campaigns to get results: Lays potato chips, feminine-hygiene product company HelloFlo, Kmart, bathroom deodorizer Poo-Pourri…
Beyond Viral Marketing
However, there are other reasons to use social media marketing, beyond engaging customers through creative marketing.
Social media is the go-to communications hub for many businesses.
Facebook, for instance, has recently suggested that local businesses should use their Facebook Pages as landing pages. Since so many people spend so much time in social media, they often use Facebook to look up business contact information, hours, and so forth.
Social media is, quite simply, a free communications channel. It’s a simple matter to distribute the same content across multiple online channels, including the social media and websites.
Social media is cost-effective marketing.
Even if your business isn’t fascinating, social media updates take very little time and they can be a great way to keep in touch with prospects, leads, and existing customers.
Local businesses can use social media as their public relations tool.
Many people take to social media when they have complaints or problems. While many businesses would rather keep such conversations under the rug, this approach can only fan the flames.
By handling complaints and reputation crises on social media, you’re able to deal with problems that many customers may not be sharing with you. Remember, for every person that complains, there are many more that aren’t.
And when drastic crises occur, social media is the first place people will look for answers.
Social media is a way to connect with customers.
Regardless of how boring a business is, enough investment will yield results. And these results will yield customer interaction, which can provide valuable insight into the needs of a target audience.
Through social media, businesses can discover what’s working, what’s not, what customers expect, and what ideas show promise.
Due to the low cost and potentially big benefits that social media offers, there’s just no reason for local businesses to avoid social media. As we’ve seen, creative, viral marketing can drive big results. But, even if a business doesn’t create viral campaigns, social media can still act as a communication hub and marketing hub for its local customers.