By now, you may have heard about this show on Broadway called “Hamilton,” based on that guy on the ten-dollar bill, and Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. The show ran the table at this year’s Tony Awards with 11 wins and has managed to recoup the $12.5 million invested, only a few weeks after opening, while still making a cool $600,00 a week in profit.
How did this show become so popular? A show about someone that we usually learn about in history class?
The actual answer is a combination of factors, but social media played a key role.
Before the show moved to Broadway, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (and his investors) needed to figure out how to promote the show on social media. Their goal was to make the story accessible to people across the country, who most likely won’t be coming to New York. During previews off-Broadway, the show organized an “Influencer Night” – inviting executives from Silicon Valley and other digital media experts to launch their social media machine. What no one expected was that the biggest influencer among them would be Lin-Manuel himself. He used his Twitter account to establish a personal connection with the show’s fans and even solicited fan art and poetry. This, combined with the now famous #Ham4Ham sessions for fans to enter the show’s daily lottery (21 seats that go for $10), made the show a success – online and off.
The rest, as they say, is history.
But since we are not all brilliant lyricists with blockbuster Broadway shows, how can we as marketers create a similar buzz on social media?
Here are 4 steps to help create better engagement on social media and make sure you’re ‘not throwing away your shot.’
Find your customers
Before you engage your customers, you have to find them. Most already have profiles that are pretty easy to follow and connect with. For professional connections, most people still prefer LinkedIn (same goes for B2B contacts), but others might prefer other social media platforms. However, be mindful, some use their Facebook or Twitter profiles for their personal connections only.
Marketers might find it useful to use social media listening tools, especially on Twitter. I use them, and my social media team uses them. Research what their interests are by looking at specific hashtags or by typing in keywords that’ll help you determine who might be a good contact.
If you need other ways to find where your customers are, have your sales team assist you. They might be able to provide a few leads regarding which social media platform people use most and even how often they use them.
Action item: While there are no guarantees that customers will engage with you, but a little leg work might help you get started in finding the right people.
Change the rules of engagement
If you want your audience to engage on social media on a regular basis, you have to ask the right questions. How does one do that? By not just asking open-ended questions, but going a step beyond.
Have you tried asking multiple choice questions? Using graphics or other visuals? If not, why not? As human beings, we are visual creatures. We like to engage with content that is visually pleasing, engages the senses and creates an emotional connection. If people see something they like, they’ll stick around for a few more seconds. Pictures, and even a little humor, does wonders for engagement, but be careful. Someone’s idea of humor can be someone else’s idea of offensive.
A while back, I was invited on Bloomberg TV and asked my Twitter followers which tie would be better suited for my interview. I posted a picture thinking my employees, or my wife, would comment. To my surprise, the engagement was through the roof! Who knew a simple question about a tie would generate so much buzz?
Action item: Look to create an emotional connection.
Excite your audience
Not every industry out there is flashy, prone to celebrity endorsements or easy to get the word out. I get it. Before becoming a Fortune 100 Chief Marketing Officer, I worked in the printing industry – not exactly the flashiest of industries. But as content marketers, part of our job is to find ways to get the message out there in a way that’s fresh, interesting, and yes, innovative.
Ask yourself, ‘what would make this topic interesting for me?’ Is it facts and figures? Testimonials? Surveys? If it interests you, I guarantee you someone else will be interested, too. If Lin-Manuel hadn’t read a “boring” biography about Alexander Hamilton while on vacation, we’d be talking about this a little differently.
Action item: Whatever your perspective is on a topic that has been talked about in the past, give it a 180. That’s your new perspective and your new topic.
Let them see behind the curtain
Now that you have found your audience, have a slew of great topics and you’ve enticed them with great visuals, you need to evangelize and educate them. How about a Q&A? Your audience will more than likely have questions about you, your product/service or something as trivial as what you had for lunch. This is the perfect opportunity for you to ‘evangelize.’ They’re already interested in what you have to offer, now it’s time to educate them. Just don’t overdo it.
When you evangelize and educate, there’s no need to get preachy. No one likes that. Plus, the education doesn’t necessarily have to be about the product itself, but about giving them a sneak peek and putting a human face to your product or service. In simpler terms, show them how the sausage is made.
I host my own business podcast, All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett, and I often give my audience a ‘sneak peek’ about the show I’m about to tape. I’ve Periscope’d, done Facebook Live sessions and impromptu Q&As. People like to feel like they matter and what better way to show your appreciation than by letting them come into your world? NASA often conducts Google hangout sessions with astronauts and scientists, open to anyone interested in space exploration. If it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for your industry or brand.
Action item: Look for opportunities to share with your audience everything that you’re doing for them (and sometimes with them). Communication is a two-way street, let them into your world, after all, they’re letting you into theirs.
If you’re to become a better storyteller, you have to venture outside your comfort zone and become an expert in other areas – whether industry-related or not. It’s great to be an expert in your field, but in order to come across as truly knowledgeable, you need to become a well-rounded individual. Those experiences add multiple layers to your content and opens you up to even more loyal followers on social media.
Start by writing about what you love. Personally, I love business, marketing, making money, hunting, fishing…and bacon!
Jeffrey Hayzlett is the primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV and is the host of the award-winning All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on the CBS on-demand podcast network, Play.It. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, Hall of Fame speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders.
(Photo: Steve Jurvetson)