Real World Social Business’ – RNLI at the Seaside

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Social Media at The Beach

Yesterday I went to the beach to enjoy our two week long British summer. Once we’d found a parking space, we (I) carried the entire contents of our home minus kitchen sink, the short distance from the car to the beach. Struggling along the promenade, kids straining at the (virtual) leash I saw the last vacant spot on the sand and headed towards it. “Hi how are you today?” I heard a voice say. “Are you going to build a nice sandcastle?” the same voice said to my 4 year old. Peering around the pile of towels, goggles and assorted balls in my grip I saw an RNLI lifeguardImage talking to my son. He was highly engaged in conversation with her as the topic was ‘how to build the best sandcastle. The girl next to her then asked my wife if she wanted any info on safe swimming for kids, which of course my wife did. What kind of a mother wouldn’t want this information. Impatiently tapping my foot, the cynical marketer in me was counting down the seconds for the goal conversion to occur, i.e. donate some money. It took 6 minutes for my wife to finally walk away, nearly as weighed down as I was, by donation /sign up forms.

This is nothing new in ‘real life’, however social media have allowed this commonplace tactic to occur in the digital space. All organisations, businesses, brands, SMEs and charities need to make a profit. It’s their ‘raison d’etre’ whether said profit goes to shareholders or good causes.

This will never be overtly communicated though. In fact mentioning the fact that a business is an actual money-making business these days is a heresy. Organisations want to ‘be your friend’, ‘tell you a story’ and share ‘the moment’. They definitely, DEFINITELY don’t want to relieve you of your hard earned $$. Yet.

Social media now allows organisations to enter in to that same conversation as my wife and son had at the beach:

Summary

  1. Location – we were at the beach, therefore a related subject is beach/sea safety, for which the RNLI are an authority.
  2. Weather/season/relevance – It would be fairly pointless those nice ladies from the RNLI standing in that same spot in mid-December.
  3. Conversation / engagement – Had they just asked us to give them some money we would have completely ignored them. They asked a pertinent question, at the right time and began a relevant conversation. This applies exactly the same in social media.
  4. Conversion – They weren’t there just to have a chat, they had targets and goals. With any social media activity you should also have a firm idea of the purpose of the conversation.
  5. Awareness – Even those people that walked straight past couldn’t have failed to notice the RNLI branded tent and branded paraphernalia. Not all (hardly any) social media activity will lead directly to a conversion – it’s largely an awareness thing.
  6. Value exchange – in this example, the RNLI gave us some useful advice on beach and sea safety with a helpful booklet for us to keep. That’s value for us so we may reciprocate by ‘liking’ them on Facebook or even signing up to a monthly direct debit.

You can donate to the RNLI (who do incredible things and save lives hereImage

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