They are The Sheep. You are The Shepherd. I am The Walrus
How much can you direct, push or corral people on the web? If you have a promotion running and want people to visit your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter etc, how do you get them there, and how do you make them stay? Is it even really possible?
Well, ‘conventional wisdom’ would suggest I give you a clear and concise lowdown of the do’s and don’ts. However, I am, according to ‘conventional wisdom’; a moron. So obviously I have decided to describe customer’s online journeys with a tenuous, longwinded and confusing metaphor, which ultimately, will make no sense at all. (N.B. this blog will also be laced with at least 10 ‘sheep related’ puns. Spot them all and you will win the right to send me an abusive email ridiculing my lazy writing.)
I WILL NOW COMMENCE THE METAPHOR
Imagine if you will, that you are a shepherd, and you’re trying to round up your sheep to shear them of their valuable wool. You just love that wool. You clothe your family with it, and it keeps you warm at night.
That's you in the hat. Text book herding action going on there, nice work.
Then one day.....out of nowhere, you see one of your precious sheep breaking from the flock and streaking away across its enclosure, what’s he doing? The sheep slows momentarily as it nears the perimeter fence, before casting you a look which seems to say ‘Watch this. What I’m about to do; is absolutely mental’. The sheep accelerates towards the fence, pushes hard against the wet ground, and leaps. For a moment it hangs in the air, legs outstretched, loving life, before landing on the other side and heading into the distant fields. A sheep has just jumped over the bloody fence! And now he’s off on his merry way to God knows where. Un-be-goddam-lievable.
He's a jumper!
Well if this isn’t bad enough, the remaining sheep have clocked what this renegade has done, and as they tend to do, others are now following suit. Your mad sheepdog doesn’t help, his gnashing and barking just speeds the sheep up. Before you know it, sheep after sheep is jumping over the fence, one after the other, over and over they go; it’s upsetting, and incredibly tiring to watch. After a few minutes you’re left with an empty pen, and as a result, no wool. Disaster.
In a nearby field another shepherd has a flock, only his flock couldn’t be less interested in jumping the fence. They’re extremely well looked after, and their pen is surrounded by TV screens showing the best Ewetube clips, and some cracking sheep related tunes. They play games, have chances to win premium grass, and are all in all, very comfortable where they are. When it comes to shearing, these sheep will happily give a bit of wool from time to time, because they just love being in this pen, who wouldn’t?
When that rare sheep does choose to leave this fantastic enclosure, a charming sheepdog runs alongside, thanks them for their time in the pen, and mentions that they will be welcome back at any time.
Have a team keep tabs on what people are saying about your brand online, and react accordingly. Dogs with hands preferable.
It’s at this point I should bring your attention to the fact the ‘sheep’ are acting as a metaphor for customers, with their ‘wool’ referring to paid transactions.The ‘field’ represents the internet as a whole, while the ‘pen/ enclosure’ represents the particular brand channel you are looking to direct the consumer towards (e.g. a Facebook page).The end goal is to ultimately ‘shear’ your customers by way of a paid transaction, of their ‘wool’.
• Sheep - Consumers
• Wool - Cash
• The pen - Where you want your customers
• The fields - Other sites
• The sheep dog- How you react to unsatisfied customers.
'I am a metaphor'
Right then, so how do you get your hands on that wool in today’s freezing economic climate?
Well, consumers are wise to almost every marketing tool out there; and they’re tired of endless empty selling.They will not blindly follow when told to visit a web page.There needs to be something to keep them there, and there needs to be some decent content, otherwise they’ll just leave/ jump the fence, and visit another site.
Consumers need to feel wanted, looked after, and to gain something from their time within your social media space. Strong content and engagement really is the best way to keep people around/ interested long enough to interact in some way, and ultimately drive a transaction. Games, apps, videos, image galleries, blogs, info graphics, links, music, and knitting tutorials are the real measure of the value of a branded social media channel. These tools incentivise and attract customers, and stimulate engagement. If people are visiting your site and enjoying your offering, you will build a level of trust, which is a key driver towards a purchase, as with the sheep in the nice pen. If your site is being visited on the promise of great content, but it’s is all artifice, then people will resent being manipulated and to a degree, lied to. Lying to your customers on any level will spell disaster.
A happy sheep will stick around and give you a bit of wool from time to time, no problemo.
In conclusion; if you try to pull the wool over your customer’s eyes, you could well end up as a shepherd without a flock (Classic), leading your clients like lambs to the slaughter. Today’s savvy internet user can spot marketing material a mile off; and they’re wary of getting fleeced, so don’t be a Wolf in sheep’s clothing. Saying that, definitely don’t be sheepish, try something new, dare to be attention grabbing (videos, pictures, games). Be sure to pull the wool from your ears and listen to what the web is saying about you, and act quickly to appease unsatisfied customers (a la the sheepdog). Once a social media campaign begins, word spreads exponentially, and people can flock either way extremely quickly, ewe better believe it.