Chronic social media users sometimes describe how a network “sucks them in,” and before they realize it, significant chunks of time have passed and they’re still scrolling away.
The ‘immediate reward’ sensation drives a lot of this – our brains anticipate getting something good every time we check in, even if it’s just every few seconds. Likewise, many experience withdrawal-like symptoms and anxiety if they go too long without seeing what’s new.
There’s definitely some disruptive mental and physical stuff going on, which psychologists and sociologists are just beginning to explore.
But if you’re more interested in selling your stuff than pondering communication theory, then you need to figure out how to make sure you and your Marketplace items can be included in people’s social media cravings.
Try some of these strategies.
- Do Facebook. Even if you’re not personally a fan of Mr. Zuckerberg’s creation, it’s where the people are – 1.9 billion of them as of last spring, and still growing. Create a business page and include links to your Marketplace page.
- Don’t worry about reaching everyone. Prime platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter collectively command global audiences. It can seem pretty intimidating – and expensive – to try to reach them all. The good news is that you don’t need “everyone” to learn about your Marketplace. With more than 3 billion members worldwide at the major social networks, it’s a good bet many won’t care or even understand your language, so your massive outreach efforts and marketing dollars won’t be terribly effective.
- Worry more about reaching more targeted audiences. Facebook is great at helping business accounts focus posts on certain users, such as age, gender or geography. and Instagram and Twitter also offer to sponsor content. It may cost a little bit to either boost individual posts or a page, but it can be a good investment especially when you’re just starting out. (Facebook bases some of its fees on audience sizes – it only costs a few bucks to reach a few hundred people, but the price goes up for larger numbers.)
- Focus on a few networks and do them well. With more than a dozen larger and smaller platforms out there, trying to keep them all fed and maintained can take all your time, especially when you’re really supposed to be maintaining your Marketplace. Instead of spreading yourself thin, pick a couple of platforms you’re comfortable working with, maybe the ones with larger audiences. Potential customers at these sites will appreciate that you’re trying to keep these active, rather than visiting a dusty page that’s rarely updated.
- Think visual. Because people believe they’re busier than ever, and active social media users scroll through so much stuff all the time, there’s less time to stop and read something. So we’re likely to skim and swim along to whatever else catches our eye, sometimes deciding to move on within about 8 seconds. (This is actually shorter than a goldfish). So a visual network vs. something text-based, like Instagram or Tumblr, which might be easier to capture people’s attention and let them pause to enjoy photos.
- Think video. Creating videos used to be hard. But not anymore, when anyone’s phone can allow them to record something and make it live through Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. A short video of you talking about your Marketplace can give people a chance to see and hear you, and also see some of your products. If you’re not terribly comfortable in front of the camera, consider writing a script, reading off-screen cue cards or doing multiple takes. Because of all the amateur videos out there, no expects anything professional.
- Encourage interaction. Whatever your network of choice, you should always be directing people reading your posts to visit your Marketplace site, your blog or other related pages. But this is considered a one-way conversation. While useful, a better but tougher strategy is to engage your visitors. Maybe include a question in every post. Maybe put up a discussion topic or share a memory. This will create more of a personable experience for visitors and can help build loyalty. (It does require some policing in case people’s conversations go off track, which is known to happen with open forums.)
- Cross-post and cross-link. Not too long ago, people were encouraged to create unique content for every network and discouraged from reposting everywhere. This isn’t bad advice, especially since not everyone is on every platform. But busy people can still save time by putting up similar posts, for the same reason. You also should put your link on every social media page, and your social media links on your Marketplace page.
Overall, there are plenty of social media posts screaming for people’s attention, so making sure people hear your voice is vital.