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Cormac Reynolds

How Businesses in "Boring Niches" Can Rule Social Media

Cormac Reynolds

Do you know what a velologist is? You probably don’t.

Well, it’s a person who collects expired auto tax discs. It’s a left field hobby to say the least, though one with a moderate following. And one that goes to showcase that "boring" is subjective.

Simply put, one man’s car disc collection is another man’s Ferrari collection. This is the point marketers need to make when talking to businesses in "boring" industries.

What’s Boring is Subjective

What may seem boring to one person isn’t to another. Every business, once they put forward an appropriate and interesting angle, has the power to engage people, create interaction and generate opportunities and brand awareness. To place this in perspective, every niche has an industry publication, news website or something of that ilk. This qualifies the aforementioned — every industry has people interested in reading about it.

However, we seem to have reached a point in B2B social media where business owners just assume they belong to the boring business area and are powerless to change that fact. The boring business social media tag almost seems to have become a niche in itself — a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts where business owners feel there’s no point in trying. Simply put, there is plenty of point!

The Right Mindset

However, the right mindset is pivotal. Obviously, small business owners have to initially muster-up the same belief in their business on social media as they do in other successful areas of their business. The obvious assertions are true — i.e. if you don’t believe your business can succeed on social media, it won’t.

However, it’s the second and equally important area where these businesses tend to receive the death knell. This revolves around how they determine success on social media.

Funnily, Success is Also Subjective

As we all should know at this stage and have been told time and time again, success isn’t a number of Likes or tweets — its numerous idiosyncratic things, most of which are completely subjective to not just an industry but a specific business. Marketers and those involved with these businesses’ social media efforts have the responsibility to alter mindsets and show there’s so much more than idle "popularity" metrics alone.

Businesses need to realize social media is not SEO-oriented lead generation. It’s not about merely creating leads in the immediate. Social media is so much more. It involves creating brand awareness, getting the attention of industry influencers, or garnering influencer attention to a notably good piece of industry content.

So many small businesses don’t see this. They’re blinded by the superficial popularity contest. If this wasn’t the case, would dubious companies selling 1,000 Facebook Fans at a time exist?

Use, Interest or Intrigue

Of course, there are no quick fixes. The best social media campaigns are those based around offering the social media community something of use, interest or intrigue.

Let me ask you a question. How likely would you be to follow a company that sells a kitchen whisk on Facebook? Unless you’re very interested in baking, or are part of some niche kitchen whisk collectors group, you’d be unlikely to. In fact, you’d probably write the kitchen whisk industry off as a "boring niche."

American blender company Blendtec is in a similar niche and has almost 170k Facebook fans, 26k Twitter followers and more YouTube videos than you can count on one hand. You could say its social media campaigns centered on blending expensive consumer items is a runaway success!

Content is the Golden Goose

But, how popular do you think they’d have been if they constantly posted product specs or smoothie recipes — maybe reasonably popular, but it wouldn’t be in the same popularity ballpark/postcode/city.

Looking at Blendtec’s videos and social media, it’ quite clear how they managed to do what they did — though hard to emulate without a lot of creativity. Blendtec took the biggest piece of social media advice on offer (don’t bore people with your business) and were ingeniously innovative with it. Blendtec used social media to offer something of use, interest or intrigue, and reaped the rewards.

Great content is the worm that catches the big social media fish; it’s the goose that lays the golden egg. We’re not saying to use your product to destroy other products. What we are saying is to be innovative, creative and create smart quality content that drives engagement. Copyblogger has covered this and has some great advice on creating interesting content for boring businesses.

Of course, quality content requires good people for creation and likeable real people for presentation.

Expertise

A lot of small businesses make the mistake of going it alone in the marketing sphere and though this spirit is admirable, it’s also often a path that leads to failure. Smaller companies with little budgets need to realize that they may have to invest in expertise to get the best return.

True, we all use social media every day; however, it doesn’t mean we are all good at marketing with it. We cook almost every day, but that doesn’t mean we’re all Michelin star chefs. Getting good people on-side to formulate the best approach is often a necessity — even if they’re just freelancers hired to audit and plan an initial approach — it’s better than nothing.

Social Media is by the People, of the People, for the People

For example, many small businesses either choose the wrong social media networks to focus on, or too many social media networks – meaning they don’t have enough time to update each one. Equally as important is ensuring your efforts are focused on the social media network your customer demographic uses the most.

Your business wouldn’t pay to place an advert for knitting wool in a car-parts trade magazine. So, why would a car parts company put its efforts into a social media site with a largely female audience like Pinterest? Not all social media networks are equal and though you may not know that, a social media professional will.

It’s also worth mentioning that social media works best when it’s real people who are using it. So many small brands fail to see their strongest selling point online is the same as their strongest selling point offline — the fact they offer a personal service.

To put it this way, large corporate entities would do anything to portray that personal feel and, boy, do they try. Small businesses need to embrace their smallness, the personal touch they offer and not be fooled by thinking that bigger is better. Social media is about being social, it’s about real people and it’s about getting in touch with people and small businesses need to realize that.

Social Media is Easy

On a customer-facing level social media allows businesses ease of contact with customers. That’s beneficial to any business in any niche. It can be used to ask questions, resolve complaints, get an idea on customer attitudes and turn customers into advocates.

And it’s not just customers social media affects. Any business using social media in the correct manner should be able to leverage their content and use it to place in front of the biggest names, influencers or journalists in their niche.

John Wayne

And should those in the eyes of the public like it, great things can happen and a business can receive a myriad of PR, SEO and branding benefits. Esteemed link builder Eric Ward provides one notable example of this.

When asked to do SEO for a large TV channel's up-and-coming John Wayne movie site, Eric Ward simply contacted one of the existing large John Wayne fan sites in the U.S. They posted it in their blog, which had a huge following.

To cut to the point, the SEO effort was richly rewarded with links and citations from John Wayne and Western-loving communities on and offline across the USA. The success was down to Ward being smart and logical and placing niche content in front of the major influencer of a positioned audience. Like all the best ideas, it was a simple one. Even if Eric Ward didn’t strictly use social media to make initial contact, hypothetically there is nothing stopping anyone in a similar scenario from using it as the means of communication.

Social media with all its groups, the ease of access it affords and lack of boundaries to entry, allows us to do the same. And unlike in Eric Ward’s case, we don’t even have to buy a stamp! Savvy small businesses with a good promotion strategy can easily create interest in their content (once it’s good) and push their brand.

Contrary to popular belief, if you build it they still may not come. But, if you bring it to the community’s noses, there’s a far greater chance they will.

To Conclude

In conclusion, any business can be a social media success and the idea they can’t is a fallacy. Once correctly marketed to the right people, every business can utilize social media in a manner that makes it more successful on social, and as a result, more successful as a whole.

Cormac Reynolds is an online marketer and SEO for Fusewave with a strong penchant for social media. He loves helping businesses make the most of their online presence and brand. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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