Giving and Getting Genuine Interest

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No one cares about your hashtag. Here’s what consumers really want.

How do you get shoppers to care about a brand as dull and boring as some stovetop pasta and cheese product? Big Hint: It’s not in the hashtags.

Seriously, Real People do not wish to use your brand hashtag. Honestly.

It matters to you and only to you and to you alone.

Get the focus off of you and on your audience. Building a community is not about bombarding potential clients with some odd, innocuous marketing slogan that spouts your campaign. It adds absolutely no value to anyone. Instead, strongly consider your people, and celebrate them as hard as you possibly can.

I am a ghost. After a career churning out content and building communities based on boring brands no one in their right minds would give a tinker about, I’m here to tell you communities are built when you genuinely appreciate your super fans. These are the true fans of your product. When you abandon the idea of being The Cool Brand and get weirdly, over-the-top enthusiastic about the odd product at hand, no matter how underwhelming or mundane it seems. Yes, there will be legions of fans for weirdness and banal, and believe me, oddball is often a winning attitude that can drive your market.

For the last five years, over and over again, regardless of the work environment, I watched brands and brand managers try to dictate who they want their fans to be, instead of looking at who is already there and embracing who they actually are. Example: going to the latest super hero or franchise space adventure, there will be people dressed in themed attire to show support. At any comic con across the country, the costumed characters abound. Those are the ones you cater to, not the “could not care less” crowd. Every company on the planet wants to be the candy bar or breakfast cereal, or rock band of choice of the young, Millennial set with tons of disposable income to burn. The proviso, however, is that like the rest of us, these made-up unicorn people can only be fans of just so many brands; it is limited.

They might not be the glamorous fan archetype you were hoping for, but they’re YOURS.

Be kind to them. Love them. Tell them you love them.

Get outside of the glass tower! Talk to people who use the product. There was an enormous sense of pride associated with whatever ordinary product you are discussing.

Funny, what is normally the case is that these real people who love your product are the exact opposite of ‘who the target was,’ . When you begin talking to them online, and celebrating their victories—no matter how minuscule—they will tell you that you and your product mattered.

Talk to your fans like they’re actual people—people who you genuinely see and appreciate. Guess what? They start becoming invested in the brand. When you give out true attention and genuine affection on the internet, it starts boomeranging back to you and, eventually, it turns into people who are willing to go to bat for your brand. They start talking about you organically, and those mentions and interactions are worth tenfold of the forced ones.

The internet is not so different from real life in that way. Be a person and be warm and enthusiastic. Worry less about being immensely polished, and worry more about genuine personalized interactions. Your brand community will start to grow in direct proportion to the genuine attention and kindness you dish out, and it will be full of people who genuinely care about you; not empty bot-friends who simply click a button to to ‘like’ you.

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