Monday, February 2, 2015

"What's your motivation?" Applying acting theory to social media strategy

One of the keys to finding and engaging a community on social media is understanding and satisfying their motivation. I first learned about motivation in an acting context. When playing a character on stage, it's my job as an actor to understand my character's motivation in that scene and in the play as a whole.

A character's motivation is the driving force behind his or her words and actions. It's what gives them meaning and weight. The same goes for social media users. In order to get a fan to engage with them on social media, a business needs to understand their motivation. All too often, businesses structure their social media strategies around satisfying their own motivation, which is usually to drive sales, rather than focusing on the motivations of their fans.

To understand your fans' motivations and use your knowledge to maximize engagement, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Why did fans like or follow me in the first place? This question is similar to an actor exploring her motivation in the play as a whole. Potential motivations here could be because they need information, they genuinely like your business and its products or services, they're curious about your business, they were/are bored, or because you provided an incentive, like a discount promotion.
  2. Why have fans engaged with me in the past? Just as an actor might research or create a back story for her character, diving into your statistics will give you a good sense of your fan base's motivations as you see what types of post they have interacted with most.
  3. Why would fans interact with a new post? In addition to understanding her overall motivation, an actor must work to find her motivation in each scene. Similarly, a social media manager must explore why a fan would want to interact with each post she writes. It could be the same as the overall motivation or it could be different. For example, a fan who likes a Facebook Page to relieve boredom might like a funny video post because it fulfills the same purpose. But he also might like a post because he is provided an incentive to do so, such as a product discount.
  4. What should I do now? An actor uses her understanding of her character's motivation to successfully perform a scene. A social media manager should therefor use her understanding of her fans' motivations to create a post that will satisfy those motivations. Doing so will increase the potential for engagement.
No matter what your fans' motivations are, working hard to understand them will help you increase engagement on your accounts and ultimately satisfy your own motivations.