‘Boring’ products and services help make the world go around; but, unlike things people are clamouring to buy, they’re not so easy to market on social media. After all, how do you promote pesticide spray (or financial services, for that matter) on social, when the only thing your followers are liking and re-sharing are cute animal videos and the release date for the Apple watch?
As an online bookkeeping service, we face this challenge daily at Bench. Few people want to hear about bookkeeping on a daily basis, so we had to find a way to connect with our fans without boring them to death.
If you face a similar struggle, here are a few examples of how we and other brands connect with users and successfully promote seemingly ‘boring’ products and services on social media.
Death is a topic that people tend to shy away from, so you can imagine how promoting funeral services on social media might present a challenge. Still, mortician and entrepreneur Caitlin Doughty found a way. She started the popular YouTube channel, Ask a Mortician, which to date has over 48,000 fans.
Caitlin’s videos cover topics such as ‘Talk to your children about death,’ and ‘Pet Death’. She even produced a show where she talks to a drag queen about death, covering topics such as “When you die, who can you trust to do your makeup?”
Her aim is to explore ways “to prepare a death phobic culture for their inevitable mortality.” Through educating her fans, Caitlin found a unique, fun, palatable way to talk about her industry and build her profile as a mortician without hard-selling her product. Fans love it, and a byproduct of her success is that she’s now recognized as one of LA’s premiere morticians.
Leverage Viral Content
PetFlow sells pet food and pet accessories. The company’s founders realized that their products weren’t exactly the most exciting thing followers would like to see on a news feed, so they began to attract fans on Facebook by posting funny pet photos and memes.
For a while, it worked. But when Facebook’s algorithm changed and the organic reach of PetFlow’s posts declined, the company pivoted and turned their corporate business blog into a publishing juggernaut. They packed their blog with posts with the same popular viral content that previously helped them amass a huge following on Facebook. They produced blog posts containing funny memes and viral pet videos, and shared them via their social channels.
PetFlow’s large existing fan base responded positively to the blog content and re-shared the blog posts like crazy, attracting new fans and a huge amount of visits to their blog and online store. Unbelievably, the PetFlow blog grew to 50 million monthly readers in 10 months. (To reach an even larger audience, they’ve since pivoted again and re-branded their blog and Facebook properties as LittleThings – Amazing Stories).
If your product or service lends itself to viral content, you’re lucky. Viral content is highly shareable, easy to source, and it works incredibly well across all social platforms. To find viral content related to your niche, monitor Google Trends, relevant subreddits on Reddit, your competitors’ social profiles, and niche groups and communities. Checking in on what’s trending on a daily basis will help you develop an innate understanding of what customers in your niche are likely to share. Use Meme Generator and Canva to create and tweak images before sharing on your social profiles.
Become a Go-To Source for Answers
People love free advice. And who else knows more about your industry than you? Customers might not always want or need to know about what you’re selling, but if you can find a way to become known as the go-to source for answers in your niche, customers will come to you when it’s time to buy.
The Vacuum Repair Technician was an early trailblazer of this method on social media. His ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session on Reddit, aptly titled IamA Vacuum Repair Technician, and I can’t believe people really wanted it, but AMA, exploded in popularity. People had a lot of questions about vacuums!
AMAs work for us, too. We regularly host AMAs and invite small business owners to ask whatever they like about small business accounting, taxes, and bookkeeping. (Check out the very first AMA we hosted, here). We do it for free, and without the expectation that users will instantly buy our product, because we want to build an expectation that users can reach out to us online any time they have a question.
If you want to take this approach, begin by proactively welcoming questions from your followers on your social channels, and provide valuable, helpful replies. Over time you’ll build an expectation among your followers that your brand is the go-to authority on social media for answering questions related to the product you’re selling, or the industry you’re in.
A recent Bench AMA on Reddit.com/r/smallbusiness
Talk About Your Community, Not About Your Brand
Carrie Morgan from Convince and Convert is quick to emphasize that your followers and fans don’t care about your brand as much as they do about their own needs. So instead of sharing content about your business all the time, post about what your users care about instead.
If you make baby products, for example, you could start building a blog that helped mothers and mothers-to-be. Crew, a hub that connects clients with high quality designers and creatives, gained huge traction with a blog that dispenses actionable advice to help their audience of entrepreneurs work smarter, not harder.
At Bench, instead of writing about bookkeeping (that’s boring), we produce features on modern entrepreneurs and share posts help small business owners solve common problems.
Write content that’s of interest and helpful to the community in your niche. It’s not a direct-sell technique, but it will help to engage users and foster a positive connection between them and your brand.
Take Fans Behind The Curtain
Want people to think you’re anything but boring? Prove it. Use social media to showcase how great your company and workplace culture is.
Wistia does this really well. Their brilliant tutorial videos and video production forum put their employees and their personable, relatable culture front and center. Wistia employees respond quickly and directly to user questions, whether or not the user is a client of the company.
And while we still profile entrepreneurial stories on our Instagram account, we also use the platform to take fans behind the scenes at Bench. We want to give our followers a sense of what it’s like to be part of a company that’s tackling bookkeeping in a non-traditional way.
If you’re not sure which of these approaches is the best fit for your brand, don’t be afraid to experiment. You’ll likely go through plenty of trial and error before you hone in on an effective way to connect with users, despite the ‘boring’ nature of what you’re selling.
If you have any questions we can answer, don’t be afraid to post them in the comments below. We’d love to help you out.