If you can solve a problem, you can make a sale—even on social media.
Sometimes by accident.
For someone else.
But in the process, you can learn how to use social media even more effectively.
Here’s what happened to my dog.
“I Can’t Lift My Dog Into My Vehicle”
I started the account HeavySaintMastiff shortly after I got my dog, a rambunctious English-mastiff/St. Bernard cross.
Heavy has 16,300 fans located all over the world—and on Sept. 2, she inadvertently did the marketing for a company that makes pet products.
Early in September, I posted a video of Heavy and her sister, Zeppelin, lumbering up a ramp into my truck.
I thought it was funny, so I posted it and thought nothing of it.
When I checked the account early on Sept. 3, the post had 2,836 views, 552 likes, 29 shares, 15 saves and more than 30 comments.
Of those comments, 9 were from people who wanted to know where I got the ramp. I actually edited the original post to include the ramp info so people could find it, and I tagged the manufacturer.
And that’s when I realized I was accidentally selling ramps. Even more interesting, the manufacturer—who abandoned its Instagram account in summer 2018—has yet to respond to all the tagging. The post now has almost 4,000 views, 730 likes, 40 shares and 26 saves.
I have no proof, but I probably sold 5 ramps for the company. If nothing else, 9 people now know that company makes ramps, so I definitely pushed a few people into the top of the company’s sales funnel.
What Are You Showing People?
What made people ask me about the ramp?
A video showing two large dogs getting into a truck.
Nine people had a problem getting beasts into vehicles, and they were immediately interested in the solution I had purchased.
Yet the manufacturer’s Instagram account contains not a single problem-solving post featuring the ramp. In fact, most of the posts don’t solve any problems. They just talk about “new products” or show dogs around products.
As business owners, we can learn a lot from all this.
We’ll use the fitness space as an example, but you can apply the lesson to any business.
“Solve My Problem”
Gyms and fitness trainers need to establish expertise. To do that, many create social-media posts in which coaches teach people how to do movements.
That’s really the equivalent of a video that tells people how to assemble a dog ramp.
There’s nothing wrong with instructions if a client is looking for “how to”—but only some are asking that question. And they’re usually the more educated clients who’ve already learned something about your product or service.
But those who haven’t heard of you or your products and services have another question: Why?
As in, “Why should I care about you and your business?”
You’re not answering the question if you say, “Because this is how you perform a deadlift.”
You need to tell these people why they need to deadlift.
The answer is something like this: “You need to learn to deadlift so you can bend over pain-free to put your dog’s food on the floor or pick up a grandchild.”
Solving Problems in Media
Here’s how you learn from Heavy Saint Mastiff, director of ramp sales in the central north region.
Take a look at your social-media accounts and determine if you’re solving problems.
Does a post about “the launch of an exciting new product” mean anything to your clients?
What if the post explained that the new product is 30 percent more expensive but lasts 50 percent longer, which clearly saves the consumer money?
What if a certain service you offer can help people run faster, and there’s an upcoming race many people are training for.
Does a post about “the great community” at your gym solve a problem? Not if you don’t spell it out.
What if you said this: “New to the city and looking to make a few friends? You’ll meet 100 people in three days in our bootcamp program, and we’ve got a potluck scheduled for next week!”
To figure out how to solve problems, put yourself in the role of the viewer and imagine his or her problems.
How can your business provide great solutions?
Go even further: know exactly what problems your products and services solve, and be on the lookout for posts about those problems.
If you have a tool that solves problems for carpenters, check out the posts in related hashtags and look for opportunities to help. If you have big and tall clothing, check posts in #tallpeopleproblems. And so on.
And always, always be alert for mentions. When someone tags you as an expert, jump into conversations and provide solutions.
In the example above, the ramp manufacturer might have seen the tags in my post and then responded to comments or directly messaged people to let them know how to get a ramp.
In another post, I took a picture of my dog wearing a hat made by a local company. I tagged the company in the post, which got 647 likes, 16 comments, 9 sends and 3 saves. This time, the company left a comment and capitalized on the free exposure.
Social media is about engagement, and if someone starts a conversation about you, get involved ASAP.
In the spirit of problem solving, this article is designed to help you connect with people.
Many businesses struggle to get engagement on social media because they’re running their own agenda over top of the interests of potential clients. Or because they aren’t paying attention.
But if you listen to your audience and tailor your content to help people solve problems, you’ll generate interest and eventually sales.
Or you can let Heavy Saint Mastiff do it for you, but she’s a very stubborn brand spokesperson and requires a lot of cheese before she endorses anything.