The practice of sharing is ingrained into the Fijian culture, so much so that even when resources are scarce they will be shared without question or resentment. Jon Piepkorn, resort manager at Taveuni Dive Resort alluded to this in his recent article “Cyclone Winston: Fiji Ravaged on Land, Underwater Paradise Survives”, part of which is quoted below:
The people are generally not rich monetarily, but they are the richest people in spirit of any people I have met on my travels around the world. They laugh, play, and joke. They value family, and they are “giving” people. As I’ve walked through villages or small towns since the passing of the storm, I’ll hear “Jon, kana”, which means they are inviting me in to eat – although there may not be enough food for the family. Even in times such as this, everyone is there helping each other out.
Spend time around local Fijians and their villages and an invite to share a meal or simply tea and biscuits will be forthcoming if you happen to be passing by. This practice helps to build relationships, foster trust, and cement bonds between family, villages, and the wider world.
Sharing, and being shared, are key to achieving similar positive effects for a business through it’s social media pages. And if we take a lesson from the Fijian’s, you should share your pie even when it is scarce.
It’s not all about you (or your business)
Whilst a business’s core website is geared primarily around promoting the products and services it provides and subsequently converting visitors into customers, applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ are a different beast. There is a major clue in name we give this group of applications: “Social” media.
In any real world social situation we all know how extraordinarily dull it is to be landed with a conversational partner who does nothing but talk about themselves, or turns anything you might say into a story about themselves. Running a social media page with an “all about me” attitude has much the same effect on customers, either existing or potential. Running a blog, which itself may form part of a business’s core website, as a full-on in-your-face self-promotional tool achieves much the same result: people get bored. And online, it is so much easier to walk away than in the real world – it just takes a click to escape, and another to block. There is no incentive to return, and the offender can not come and sit down for another attempt at either making your life a misery again, or rebuild a broken relationship. How nice would it be to have this power on a Friday night at the local ?!?!
A real world social group thrives when it is all-inclusive, shares interesting stories and opinions, shows appreciation of others and their efforts, empathises with individual woes, has a healthy mix of seriousness and humour, and is generous in nature.
Creating Social Groups through Shared (and shareable) Experiences
As a follower of a brand or business a person becomes part of a social group, and the level of engagement within that group is very much dependent on experiencing the feelings of a real world social group. As a follower of Brand A, I will become bored and disengage if all I hear about is Brand A’s products and services and todays great deal that is designed to extract dollars from my wallet. I want to know the business and it’s people. I want to feel their enthusiasm and passion for what they do, in both their business and their community. I want to be informed with useful information on a range of related topics. I want be included with content that promotes interaction. I want rich content – words, pictures and videos. I want to see confidence – to the extent that appropriate, relevant and useful content from competitors is generously shared. I want to see that a business has an opinion – one which I can freely agree or disagree and engage with without prejudice.
These are some of the things that help to build relationships, foster trust and cement bonds with our online families, virtual villages, and the wider web-based world. I’m sure you can think of many others – just think about your Friday nights at the local, or your cocktail party, or chatting with a friend on a street corner – what makes these experiences enjoyable, ones to look forward to, or ones we seek to repeat, or be included in ?
At the heart of it all is shared experience. Creating and promoting original content, as well as sharing similar quality content that originates from other sources, drives a desire in your audience to share wider. Being confident, humorous, generous with information, opinion, comment, praise, and empathy, as in any real world social gathering goes a long way to making you likeable.
Compounding Reach through Organically Grown Ambassadors
From a business perspective the potential power of sharing and being shared is immense due the effects of compounding. To keep the numbers easy, lets say a business or any mutual interest group has 100 followers, and each of those followers has 100 friends, and so on and so on. With a 100% sharing rate amongst the primary followers an article or post will potentially have been seen by 10,000 people. The next iteration – 1,000,000. A well crafted article that may take a few hours, or a short and snappy informative or humorous post that may take few minutes can provide a huge return on time investment. Obviously a 100% sharing rate is highly unlikely, a typical rate may be 5-10%. The compounding effect though is still hugely apparent- the more shareable the article the greater the effect.
Social media allows us to like and comment on the content of others. Each like or comment creates a link back to the originator, and this can also be leveraged to good effect. It is an excellent reason to like and comment appropriately on the content of others using your business account, including the content of a what may be a competitor. This is, and has been for a long time, a mechanism used by many a personal or business blogger to create backlinks to their own sites and potentially improve page ranking. Unfortunately, it is also a mechanism that is often used to the point of abuse with large amounts of spam comments containing links to undesirable sites. Ensure likes and comments are appropriate, relevant, generous, and good-natured otherwise there is a risk of relegation to the realms of the spammer.
Social media sites such as Facebook learn the behaviour of their users, and over time are likely to reduce or completely stop serving articles from followed pages onto a users timeline if the user does not actively visit the page. The assumption is that if you don’t visit the page very often, then you’re not that interested. Publication of an article or a post onto a business page is sometimes not enough. It needs to be worthy of sharing, and be shared. Having a core set of social media ambassadors for your business page content can help to counteract a drop-off in direct engagement. Personal endorsements are sometimes more effective than content served directly from a business with something to sell. Encourage half a dozen ambassadors to actively share your content and the compounding effect can be given an extra boost. A page that generates the warm fuzzy feelings of a friendly real world social group will likely have these ambassadors already, all voluntarily self appointed.
Creating more pie through an abundancy mindset
I have advocated these approaches many times in conversation with business owners, most of whom, on the face of it, nod knowingly and agree. However, agreement is often less evident when it comes to putting things into practice, particularly when applied to competitors content. Engagement in this case may be limited to a personal account, or just not done at all out of principle. A confident business should not balk or place limits on their goodwill, which in the long run will likely be reciprocated.
A Fijian with little pie will happily share it, valuing the reciprocal reward that may come later. Fervently protecting your piece of the pie implies a scarcity mindset that can inhibit your social media reach.
A confident business, one with and abundancy mindset, will just cook (or create) more pie.
Back to the Beginning
I began this post with a reference to Jon Piepkorns’ article “Cyclone Winston: Fiji Ravaged on Land, Underwater Paradise Survives”, one that ticks a few of the boxes for shareable content, and took one hour of effort to create. After 36 hours this has reached over 2200 people and has been read 872 times on the UW360 website. A separate photo update, requiring 2 minutes of effort, showing the reef and oceanlife subsequent to Cyclone Winston, has been shared over 20 times, and reached 3300. Not quite the reach of Lady Gaga, but not too bad either for 62 minutes of effort that might just create a bit more pie.
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