Social Media Success: What We Can Learn From Backyard Birding

  |  April 5, 2012   |  Comments

There's no point spending time setting up your social presence if you don't bother to customize your social pages to meet the needs of your consumers.

dsc-7643I ordered two birdfeeders and a birdbath from an online cataloguer. These sat in my garage for about two weeks before my kids pushed me to unpack them and set them up in the yard. We filled the feeders with two different kinds of seed, hung them about a foot from each other, and filled up the birdbath, which we placed away from the feeders. We whistled at passing birds, threw seed up in the sky, and even built a seed trail from the woods to our birdfeeders - still no birds! Fifteen minutes later, we gave up and I called the cataloguer.

I spoke to a very friendly lady and almost demanded, "Where are the birds?" She asked me how long I had the birdfeeders and I was truthful when I replied, "Two weeks!" Of course, I didn't tell her that I had only had the feeders out in my yard for 15 minutes. She took about 20 minutes to explain to me that perhaps my birdfeeders were too close to each other - I had a feeder for finches and a feeder for cardinals. She further explained that birds had little feet and my idea of a dip in the pool on a hot summer day was a scary idea for a bird. She asked me to put the birdbath closer to one of the feeders and even shared with me how to clean my feeders and birdbath.

When I asked her how long it would take for the birds to come, she assured me that that it normally took a few days for the birds to notice the feeder. She was right, because 10 days later I noticed a goldfinch that stopped and grabbed a seed. A few seconds later a second goldfinch stopped and grabbed a seed. Within a few days, my feeders were feeding hundreds of birds.

The birds only came to my feeders after they felt comfortable and could see my feeders. They took their time, liked the experience, and started telling other birds about my feeders.

So what does this have to do with social media? Social media is about three key principles - first, you have to find new consumers; second, you need to know them better; and third, your consumers need to spread the word.

We spend so much time setting up our social presence, but we do so little to customize our social pages to meet the needs of our consumers. Most brands start off by trying to come up with special offers to attract their consumers, when what you really need is high-quality interaction. The best way to do this is by getting your customers involved in the planning and design of your social media sites. Next, get your consumers to spread the word - it's a lot better if they do it versus you.

I also pull in two other considerations into my social media planning.

First, I think about being practical and try to come up with a return on investment (ROI) measurement. I measure ROI three ways - by engagement (followers and level of conversation), a reduction in costs (if I can do less on another channel), and an occasional bump in attributable revenue.

Second, I think about getting my team on board. Consider telling your team about your social campaigns before you launch them so they are better equipped to have a discussion with your consumers.

The backyard birding cataloguer has been successful by taking advantage of high-quality interactions via their social media channels. They list articles on their blog that discuss attracting birds and cleaning feeders, and share the frequently asked questions. Think about taking your FAQs and putting them up on your social networks - that way you can engage your consumer in a dialogue (via any channel) and simply direct them to the useful information.

For social to be successful, you need to consider integrating the tools into your direct marketing mix. You also need to nurture your friends or fans, or "birds." The best way to grow your social presence is for your "birds" to tell other "birds."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sundeep Kapur

Sundeep Kapur has been assisting organizations with their converged channel marketing strategies since 1990. From direct marketing to digital to converged, he is a passionate teacher who works with businesses across multiple industries, helping them to enable technology and services to brand, and personalize and speak to consumers more effectively.

He is an industry-recognized expert who has delivered keynotes, run panels, and delivered "relevant, inspirational, and outstanding" education for organizations around the world.

Sundeep is also an avid user of social media, having leveraged words, pictures, and video into a conversational digital book. His daily dose of best practices can be found at www.EmailYogi.com, where he has more than 1,200 articles on best practices.

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