Silly season

Posted by suzichristie on August 12, 2016

In the media world, August is called ‘silly season’. Because many people are on holiday – not least the single biggest generator of news, parliament – there is plenty of space for editors to fill. Just look at this article in the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/the-best-of-the-silly-season-welcome-to-august-when-only-the-most-ludicrous-stories-will-do-9652566.html ), where they even do a roundup of the silliest silly season stories. Editors can be so desperate for input that they will even promote ‘cracked-addicted squirrels’ from the inside pages, to the front page.

You see, ‘crack-addicted squirrels’ has peaked your interest! That is the point. The very essence of news is that it can often be quite serious and sometimes quite miserable. Now, while no one wants to see a series of strung-out squirrels waiting in line for their methadone, the juxtaposition of the furry tree rodent and something so horribly human as crack-addiction, is inherently funny.

The newspapers use these ‘funny’ stories to keep our interest during the dry news month of August and they will use similar stories during the rest of the year to break-up the often bleak series of stories that make up the majority of what is reported.

This is a simple and rather obvious formula which can be used to great effect on your business social media pages. As a company, it is your desire to sell your products to people and to do this you need a market and potential customers are now using social media as much, if not more, than any other source of information.

The holy grail of marketing is to get your customers to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. If you are a company that can expect regular visits from your customers, for example, a restaurant, then you will use your social media feeds to advertise your wares, while also promoting offers to make it worth their while to keep following you. If the holy grail is someone ‘following’ you, then the ‘unfollow’ is something try very hard to avoid.

As with silly season, you need to provide content that will keep people interested in your social media output. If you can keep in their social media stream, then you are also kept in the back of their mind and, when they need the service you provide, you are the company they will call first.

So how do you do this? To put it simply, vary the content as much as possible. Avoid only using social media for advertising – no one wants to be on the end of hard-sell all the time. Obviously, you need to avoid advertising competitors as this would be an own-goal, but it is a good idea to keep the subject matter limited to area you are associated with. So, if you are an architect, restrict your posts to the subject of architecture and then, in among the stories of cutting-edge design, you can post your own designs and talk about your successful building projects.

This has a number of beneficial features for your business:

  • It associates your work with others’ work. If you are an avant-garde clothes designer, then associating yourself with other avant-garde clothes designers will give your work a similar cache.
  • It shows you are aware of what is going on in the wider world and customers like to know they have chosen to buy from someone who is part of that prestigious world.
  • It makes your social media stream a source for people interested in this subject – you become a filter for stories on this subject. So, if you are interested in funny massive rat stories and you can get these stories funnelled to you via a pest control company’s social media stream, then, when you need a pest controller, who do you call first?
  • If you can get people interested in the stories and link things back to content on your website, this will ultimately help with SEO for your website.

BUT...

While it is important that your social media feed isn’t just advert after advert, it is important that the content matches the expectations your clients have about your business. For example, if you are a serious profession, such as a lawyer, then your stories should, in the main, be serious stories. After all, no one wants to employ a frivolous lawyer. The occasional obviously witty story is fine, it makes you look human and approachable, but ultimately people seek professionalism in a lawyer.

For most industries, however, humour can be a great way to keep your readership interested in your feed. Which brings us back to the silly season, the same rules apply to your Twitter or Facebook stream, as they do to the newspaper you read. With your staff, your customers and, if you are very lucky, yourself, on holiday during August, now is the time to think about how to arrange your social media during the rest of the year, while maintaining their interest during August.

This is why  we posted a story on Cleankill Environmental Service's social media feeds which is a perfect example of social media and the silly season - Kim Jung Un ordering the North Korean forces to round up snakes he believes are being sent to North Korea by a South Korean spy agency. (http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/07/27/North-Korea-blames-snake-infestation-on-South-Korean-spy-agency/6771469623969/)