Kenny Hamlett is a billing analyst. Actually, he was a billing analyst. Today he is a social media manager with all the analytical chops to calculate digital experiences that move people. Move as in get up from the couch, move your body and come into the store to buy something. When you have a brick and mortar shop and the roof over your head is held up by in-store sales, the digital content you create has to move people – literally.
I had the chance to sit down with Kenny to see what he could teach us about creating a social media presence that respects that type of engagement people want on social media while generating the offline activity local businesses need to survive.
It all starts with understanding your audience, both when they are customers and when they are social media followers. “Small businesses, or any business really, get overwhelmed by the idea of social media,” Kenny says. “They don’t really know what it is, or why it is. It’s a thing they know they need to do, but how to go about it is a mystery.”
We use social to...
"We – people in general – use social media to get away from our lives, or enhance our lives. We log in and it’s like this wonderland. So small businesses have to add to this experience by creating content that people want to tune into every single day. That’s how you get followers and keep followers engaged on social media. The next step is getting them into your store. All that wonderment you are sharing on social media has to have deep roots to your store. Your store has to be the wonderland."
- Kenny Hamlett
For this, Kenny says you have to see the story and the purpose behind the things you are selling. You sell shirts – take a picture of that shirt and put it up on your Instagram – right? Wrong. That’s not wonderment, that’s laziness. People don’t want to buy a shirt. They want to buy the experience of being the person in that shirt. There is a lot more to that than fabric, and that is what we have to figure out.
One of Kenny’s clients is Boys Fort – a Pacific Northwest golden child. Boys Fort curates the art and wares of local Portland artists. This is where he looks to find his stories.
This turns one shirt into a novella and a piece of art into epic digital poetry. This also leads to a form of creative capitalism. The more someone knows about a thing – the quality, care and time put into it – the more value that thing has. Effective storytelling is a value-add.
By bringing artists into the content creation process, Kenny is also effectively creating an extended family of ambassadors who will help share and promote their content. That is how social media efforts are compounded. The more characters you have in your story, the more people you have who want to tell it.
eCommerce Makes Things Appear to Be Easy
“I see a lot of brands who are just killing themselves by selling, selling, selling," Kenny says. "On social that doesn’t translate to buying, buying, buying. More so it equals being unfollowed.”
This is where we start talking about eCommerce. Boys Fort does a lot of work on social media, but they don’t have in-app purchasing. These are those little bubbles you see on photos where you can just click to buy. We love those types of things as digital marketers because it reduces the distance between wanting and having. But it also overlooks that people don’t inherently want our things. When we overlook that key fact, selling seems the most appropriate thing to do. And we’re wrong.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, the clients Kenny works with still make the majority of their sales in-store. This brings us back to creating content that moves. Digital purchases have a lot of physical corollaries, even if they are not immediate at the time of purchase. For instance, buying a shirt requires envisioning yourself going out in the world in that shirt. Buying a wallet requires you to see yourself opening it up, wearing it in, and knowing you can use it every day for years without it falling apart. “Click here” doesn’t scratch the surface of that.
We should be treating digital purchases like they're brick and mortar purchases.
Remove the veil
“Doing social media for a local business is a high accountability job. You talk with people behind the veil of a social account, but then they come into your store. You get live feedback. It puts more pressure on you when the person reading your stuff knows your name. If you treat each potential sale like you have to get someone up off their couch and into your store, digital conversion rates might actually go up.”
- Kenny Hamlett
This is also why Kenny is not only a social media manager but also an events manager. Live in-person events create the real-world connective tissue people need to go from looking at your store to being in your store.
People are not always ready to buy, but you can still engage with them in meaningful ways that make your store a brand they want to associate with today or in the future. And like Kenny said, sometimes social media can be a mystery to small businesses, but the best way to do well on social is to figure out what makes you, you, and then be the best you on social.
If you work in the world of digital content and think you have some insights to be shared, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.