Does Your Business Purpose Meet Your Audience Purpose
Purpose. It’s behind everything we do as marketers - at least it should be. Every day, we see something online or even in the real world, and we ask ‘what was that trying to accomplish?’ Just because there may have initially been a point and a purpose behind a piece of content, it can get lost by the time it reaches its intended audience.
Customers have a very clear purpose. They go online for one of two reasons. They are going online to have a problem solved, or to be entertained. If they need to have a problem solved, then they will tend to go to a search engine and find an answer to their immediate problem, like ‘where can I buy a cheap dress?.’ If they go to social media, then they are not immediately looking to get their problem solved, they are looking to be entertained.
Think about what you look for when you’re on social media. You’re looking to find what your friends like and what they’re doing. You will stop and look at interesting and entertaining videos and stories. You will also spend time if people have lost their pet, or if they are publicly asking for help and advice. Things that bring out an emotional reaction will engage people - and it’s engagement that is important.
Too much at once
Now put on your social marketing hat. You work for a dress store, and you have a Facebook account. You are advertising on Facebook. So, what do you write? Well, maybe you think about what makes you unique as a business. What might appeal to someone that is looking for a dress:
Priiti Dresses have dresses available for any occasion. Whether it’s a prom, party or a wedding - you can be sure that we have a style and colour that will suit you. We can also make dresses to order, and we make them all ourselves - so you don’t have to worry about people suffering to make you look beautiful. Click on the link to order your next favourite outfit, NOW!
From a marketer’s perspective, we can see that this has purpose. It’s not terribly written, and probably hits all of the points the business wants people to know. We can also see immediately some of the reasons why it won’t get the attention of someone, even if they are looking for a dress.
Confusing your purpose
Firstly, It’s a big block of text. There’s a lot of things trying to get our attention on social media. Unless we’re already bought into the brand, then we’re not going to want to read more than a line or two. The width of a desktop news feed post on Facebook is around 75 characters. On mobile, the width is about 45 characters. Studies have shown that posts of 90 characters or less are the most successful, and this is the reason why.
Some of this could be solved by spacing, even putting a break at the end of the second sentence would make it easier to read - but there’s a bigger problem. The post doesn’t have a singular, clear purpose. It has about five. So let’s look at them on their own.
1. Priiti Dresses have dresses available for any occasion.
2. Whether it’s a prom, party or a wedding - Priiti Dresses have a style and colour that will suit you.
3. Priiti Dresses also make dresses to order.
4. Priiti Dresses make all our dresses ourselves - so you don’t have to worry about people suffering to make you look beautiful.
5. Click on the link to order your next favourite Priiti Dresses outfit, NOW!
Already, the posts are easier to read. Their purpose is also clearer in each of the points. Now that they’re separated, it’s clear that a lot of things have been mashed together. The call to action at 5 should be at the end of a sales funnel, while 2 and 3 are middle funnel pieces of information designed to turn interest in a decision. 1 and 4 are top funnel pieces of copy, designed to get people’s interest. The whole of the sales funnel has been thrown together, slip-shod, in just one post.
Top of the funnel
Let’s look at 2, a top level piece of content that could be great for attracting people’s attention: “Whether it’s a prom, party or a wedding - Priiti Dresses has a style and colour that will suit you.” There is more focus than when it was lost in the paragraph - and the content itself suggests that a gallery view of prom, party and wedding outfits would be a great addition to this post.
There’s still a problem, even though the purpose is clearer, it’s still not engaging. What if the core idea was kept, but it was changed to appeal to someone on social media? Rather than just selling - why not start a conversation?
Did you look this good at your prom, party or wedding? Share your pics!
If the gallery images that support the copy are well branded and good enough, then it will do a good job of selling the product. It’s also an invitation that’s going to make someone much more likely to make someone to sweep through the gallery and interact. The purpose of the message now matches the purpose of the audience. Engagement. People can give their opinions, share their own pictures and comment on those pictures.
The right kind of snowball
When social media marketing works well, it’s like a snowball. You start with a good idea, it rolls down the hill and you should attract more snow. In this metaphor, snow means followers. If there is constant momentum, then the ball should grow bigger and bigger. If you throw down rocks, then you can knock chunks off your snowball - or even knock it of course. A really poorly timed rock can kock the snowball so far off course it can destroy a village.
They say no publicity is bad publicity, but when Kenneth Cole tweeted during the revolution in Egypt: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online” it got press attention for all the wrong reasons. The tweet was trying to #trendhack and link the brand to something that was getting everyone’s attention. It was just in very poor taste.
If Cole had tweeted “Important things are happening in #Cairo, we hope all our customers in Egypt are safe,” it would still have linked his brand to the trending event, but shown that Kenneth Cole was concerned and caring, rather than making light of a dangerous situation.
The revised tweet has multiple purposes.The surface purpose is showing concern during a massive event with global implications. There is also a purpose of showing that Kenneth Cole is a relevant brand. There’s also an implication with ‘we hope all our customers in Egypt are safe’ that the brand puts customers first. It’s showing that they value their customers, rather than just telling people they do. Show, don’t tell - it’s one of the first lessons of storytelling - and with every piece of content, you’re telling your story to your audience.
Be relevant, not exploitative
Let’s go back to our dress example, and look at the fourth point: ‘Priiti Dresses make all our dresses ourselves - so you don’t have to worry about people suffering to make you look beautiful.’ This has the potential to touch on a relevant and important issue which is an important purchase consideration: ethical practices. Done right, and it makes the company seem caring and ethical - done wrong and it can look like they’re exploiting the exploited.
Here’s one potential approach:
Do you know who makes your clothes? Is it a child? Someone getting paid a dollar a day? At Priiti Dresses, we make everything ourselves.
It’s certainly a strong approach which may engage the audience’s interest. The trouble is that implies that the audience are already wearing unethical clothes. The tone is accusatory, and sounds self satisfied. If they were a person on Facebook, you would be tempted to unfriend them. For a company that’s about clothing for happy occasions, it’s not the right tone.
We care about your dresses. We also take care we don’t exploit anyone, which is why we make everything ourselves.
This is a better approach - the tone is focusing on the positives, and it underpins the caring attitude of the company. The only problems here is that it focuses on the company, not the audience - and it’s not really doing anything to directly engage them. How about:
Ethical. Hand-made. That’s Priiti Dresses. What else is better when you make it yourself?
From the mess of the initial example post, we now have two pieces of content that are likely to get people’s attention and engagement. We have determined their purpose in the sales funnel to attract attention, and we have matched them to the purpose of the audience - to be engaged by content.
Middle of the funnel
For the mid level, the purpose is to push people towards a decision - to make it clear why your company is better than the others - to really push the USP. Feed content is high level - and the lower levels should usually be reserved for ads. Although people on social media react differently to ads, they still want to be engaged.
If we look at 3: ‘Priiti Dresses also make dresses to order.’ This is a huge advantage that the business has over others, but was buried. At the middle and bottom of the funnel, this is the point where we need to focus less on entertainment and engagement - and more on solving people’s problems. On social media, we’re not responding to a problem, we’re anticipating a problem they haven’t had yet:
Can’t find the perfect dress? Priiti Dresses also make dresses to order.
There’s a direct question, and with the word ‘also,’ it’s implied that the company also has ready made dresses. This may not be as engaging or entertaining as the first posts, but it doesn’t need to be. At the mid-level of the funnel, people have already shown interest in your (or similar) brands - here, you are solving their problem. Pair it with a stunning image, and you’ll also engage them.
For ‘Priiti Dresses have dresses available for any occasion,’ we can rephrase to make people aware of the problem the company can solve:
Need something unique for a wedding? Bespoke for a prom? Priiti Dresses has you covered.
This addresses the problem that people have of looking like everyone else at a wedding. The copy includes words like ‘unique’ and ‘bespoke’ as well as showing the different occasions it can cater for. The questions directly relate to the audience as well. If you match this with a stunning picture of a wedding dress with a veil, the last part ‘Priiti Dresses has you covered’’ becomes a joke - bringing in some entertainment while solving the problem. All in 89 characters.
End of the funnel
Our final piece of the puzzle is 5: ‘Click on the link to order your next favorite Priiti Dresses outfit, NOW!’ Now, there is nothing particularly wrong with this, but the call to action is vague. ‘NOW’ is a powerful word, but there’s no particular reason for the audience to act now. Even something like ‘stock running low’ or ‘only a few appointments remaining’ at least puts a ticking clock which gives someone using social media an incentive to act immediately rather than coming back later (or not coming back at all).
At the end of the funnel, people have already interacted with your company a few times - whether it’s commenting on posts or even visiting your website. If your timing is right, they will see your ad when they want your service. Usually, at this point in the funnel if they haven’t converted already, they need a carrot - which works better than a stick like a ‘stock running low’ message.
Special offers and competitions work very well at this level, and can be a great way to get engagement. The purpose of this business at this point is to get a conversion, the purpose of the audience is to get something they value that they won’t be able to get at any other time.
Need a unique Priiti Dress? The person with the best reason will get 50% off.
Something like this will drive traffic - people will come up with their reason, and even check out the online store to see the dress they could win money off. On top of that, there’s a real incentive to leave a comment. Making sure your objective and call to action is clear here is key. You don’t want to mix messages at this stage. This is a great post for the end of the tunnel if your aim is primarily to increase engagement. If you want to convert more, a more general offer is more appropriate.
Use the code PRIITIFB in the next 24 hours for 10% off anything!
The exclusive money off, and the timing is an incentive to act and an incentive to share the post to people who want to take advantage of the special offer. It doesn’t have to be money off - it could be a free gift with purchase, a free eBook, a special trial or a special offer. It can even be pointing out a real advantage of the service - 0% financing or even a free consultation. Your audience at the bottom of the funnel is trying to get their problem solved - anything you can do which makes it easier for that to happen will increase conversions.
Purpose for Platform
After you have matched the purpose of the audience to your business purpose, you need to think about where you are reaching your audience. The examples given here were for Facebook, but the underlying principles apply for Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media. People interact with different social media in different ways.
Something that works on Facebook may not work on Twitter. For example - a lot of discovery on Twitter comes through hashtags. Finding hashtags that are trending or in constant use (and specific to your industry) will take precedence on that platform. Instagram is primarily about great visual images - on that platform you want to create a shareable image first, and worry about copy afterwards. It also uses hashtags, but the ones that work for discovery on Instagram aren’t the same as the ones that work on Twitter. The purpose of each platform is different - and your content needs to be too.
You also need to think about where people’s attention will be. They could be looking at your post on a computer, but they’re more likely to be looking at it on a smartphone. Something may look great on a big screen, but will not work in the smaller real estate on a phone. If you keep your message short and on point, then it should work well in the smaller format - but also be aware of details that can be lost if an image is scaled down. Does it still work if you look at it from the other side of the room?
Knowing what your purpose is as a business is the easy part. Almost every business has a common purpose - to grow and make money. The businesses that do are those who respect the purpose their audience has too.
First, they know their audience, so they know what they want. They know what they like, so they can present them with content they already like. They know how much interaction they have had, so they can be presented with the right information to meet them where they are in their customer journey. They know what platforms they will view that content on, so the purpose is still clear. They will even consider what devices are used to consume that content.
The effective social marketing campaign meets the audience where their attention already is. They have to break through all the other noise on social media and make a genuine connection. It’s not a print, radio and TV world any more where companies tell people who they are, and that’s the only information an audience has. Now consumers have all the information on the Internet in their pocket - with answers to their questions a Google click away. Unless you have something else to offer, they’ll just go to Amazon.
So what can you offer? Connection.
Matching your purpose to theirs, not going for the hard sell and engaging them means they don’t just become a customer - they form a connection to their brand. Brands used to be about selling the lifestyle, and not just the product. Social media is about selling the product, the lifestyle and the experience of being a customer. Is it easy? No. That’s why doing it properly will make you stand out from the crowd.