By Taylor Schumacher, Director of Strategy
Last year, I became a dog owner. If you’ve ever had a pet, you know you learn about life, love and companionship.
What I didn’t expect to learn about is marketing.
Like any good Millennial, I took to social media to learn about how to raise and train a dog. Fast forward nine months and almost overnight I became obsessed with this community I found online and a passionate (and profitable) follower: actively participating in live streams, racking up views on monetized YouTube videos and investing hundreds of dollars in recommended products.
I realized the dog training industry transformed me into the social media follower we as brand marketers aspire to create and attract. Even more interesting, some of these dog trainers are seemingly more successful than the large brands I work with.
Let’s take one, Larry Krohn, as an example. On social, he consistently sees double digit engagement rates without any paid spend and follower growth on Facebook, a notoriously low organic growth platform. From a business perspective, he has a client waiting list that’s years long and he averages 500+ messages from potential clients every day. Larry is a great example, but many in this industry are powering their businesses and creating real leads using these platforms AND they’re doing it with a tiny team, a bit of equipment and little else.
So, what transformed me into the model social media follower? How are these small businesses so insanely successful and what are they doing that a big brand can emulate?
1. Personality paired with knowledge.
This is the foundation of their success. If I was using buzzwords, I’d be talking about “content creation.” But to use plain English, the reason they can use social media so effectively is because they have valuable expertise that is in demand (63% of U.S. homes own a dog making for a $75B industry). And those that are the most successful pair that with a big personality to make the delivery entertaining.
Big Brand Takeaway: Identify the value the brand can provide and build social content from there. Find your social personality and go all-in on it. It’s likely outsized compared to your typical brand voice.
2. Authenticity is their creed.
This group takes being authentic very seriously. What does that mean? They are incredibly conscious of the image they are creating and hold themselves to a high standard of maintaining it. Just as brands should do, they’ve honed in on their values and completely embrace the idea that a brand can’t be everything to everyone because you’ll be nothing to no one. You’ll often see debates in their comments sections, a sign of a strong point of view and engaging content.
Big Brand Takeaway: Inherently, being “authentic” requires a brand to have opinions and beliefs. What are yours?
3. Omnipresent is optimal.
I’m only being a bit sarcastic. If you look at the volume of content this industry creates, you would think they spend all their time on social media and not actually training dogs. They get the nature of social media: more is more. The conversation continues every minute of every day, whether you participate or not.
Big Brand Takeaway: Don’t be so worried about the quality of the production and focus on the quality of what you’re contributing to the conversation.
4. Be like water.
Dog trainers must have missed the memo about content calendars, because they don’t seem to have them. Like water, they go with flow. The flow of the conversation in their industry and the flow of what’s happening with their dogs right now. Fluidity gives them the freedom to be what big brands aspire to be: culturally relevant.
Big Brand Takeaway: Throwing away your editorial calendar is likely unrealistic, but how can give yourself a degree of freedom so you can join the right moments for your brand on social?
Social media is the most human of the channels marketers have available to us. It shows our flaws, of which we are all too aware of, but it also reflects our strengths: compassion and cooperation. The most successful in the dog industry all have one thing in common: they have complete conviction they are helping the people they’re reaching.
To participate in social media effectively as a brand, embrace why people are on these platforms: to connect, learn and be entertained. You too can build your business on social, but you must understand the rules of engagement. Be fun. Bring value. Be human.