It happens nearly every time I present at a conference, training, or inspiration session: someone who has been paying close attention, waiting patiently for the Q&A, will raise their hand and point out that the case studies and creative examples of excellent and effective activations in social are all well and good for the Red Bulls and Nikes of the world. “But what about a low interest category?” Or, “What about B2B?” Or, “What if my brand is just too boring?”
I maintain that no category is too boring for social. If you have a strong brand, a good understanding of your customers, and a little bit of tolerance for risk, your “boring” brand can use social media just as effectively — and sometimes, famously — as the fan favorites that come to mind as naturally social-media-friendly brands.
Luckily, the most important principles of making a “boring” brand interesting in social happen to be some of the same fundamentals that make any brand interesting in any medium:Know your brand. Appliances aren’t something most people go nuts about on social media. But in the case of Maytag (disclosure: a client), there happens to be a character -- the Maytag Man -- who brings to life the spirit of hardworking dependability that Maytag stands for. Maytag also has a well-known annual promotional period in May (“May Is Maytag Month”)
So it made perfect sense when Maytag jumped on to the It's Gonna Be May meme with a music video starring the Maytag Man himself. A clever use of a trending topic? Yes -- but more importantly, one that fit perfectly with the brand’s assets and coincided with them having something timely to say.
Know your audience. Corporate real estate: not exactly what comes to mind when you think of super-engaging, 18,000-likes-per-post social content, right?
But WeWork understands that the product it provides (convenient, enjoyable coworking spaces) is really about the people it serves: unconventional, highly motivated, independent young professionals who take their careers seriously but have had to forge their own paths the entire way.
All of its social content speaks to and celebrates this audience. Seeing a post from WeWork reminds people, every time, that they are the type of person who works at a WeWork space.
Be bold. Honestly, though — my favorite brand on social is the TSA.
Yes, that TSA.
Why? Because it does basically exactly what you wish the TSA would do on its social channels, but wouldn’t expect it to: talk candidly about its everyday work. It patiently answers questions about air travel regulations. It has an entire YouTube playlist called “They Brought What?” dedicated to showcasing the strangest things people try to bring on airplanes.
It’s unexpected, it’s entertaining, and it works to both educate travelers and build the credibility of the agency. Its willingness to engage is surprising
Sometimes, a “low interest” category is just one where we haven’t given people enough legitimate reasons to be interested. There aren’t any easy shortcuts -- but there are great ideas to be found if we dig in and do the work.