When most museums around the world had closed their doors mid-March 2020, Tim was deemed the only essential employee as the head of security for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
To pass the time, he was assigned the extra job of managing the museum’s social media. Problem was, he didn’t know anything about social media. This became obvious when he tweeted the words, “Hashtag John Wayne” instead of using the “#” symbol. Tim would refer to each social platform as “the Instagram” and “the Twitter,” and he ended each tweet with “Thanks, Tim.” He didn’t follow even the most basic social media rules. So how did that go for him?
Maybe by now you’ve heard of Tim Tiller, who goes by “Hashtag the Cowboy.” His funny and original touch has brought the museum over 250,000 new Twitter followers, 79,000 on Instagram, and 98,000 on Facebook. The museum is selling apparel internationally and successfully weathered the 2020 economic downturn simply through Tim’s endearing style.
I’m not sure that exact strategy would work for your business, but Tim’s accidental stumble into success does shine a bright light on something we can do differently to stand out in our own social media efforts.
I previously shared on this blog that in our quest to engage with and grow our audience, we tend to get distracted by a bunch of social media “rules” that make posting a burden for many businesses. There’s only one rule I shared that matters, which is to not be boring online. I promised here to delve into the topic over a multi-part series, and now I’d like to share two areas that can never be boring, and they both rhyme with “you.”
Those two areas don’t actually rhyme with the word “you,” but they both have everything to do with you.
You see, the least boring thing in this world is you. People just aren’t boring, no matter what you said about me after the dinner when I ran out of things to say. I subscribe to the belief that there is no individual on earth who is truly boring. Everyone is unique, and the same rule applies to your business because it is tied to unique, living human beings. That uniqueness needs to shine through on social media, like it does for Tim Tiller, another living human being who happens to work for a cowboy museum.
IS YOUR INSTAGRAM MORE LIKE THE YELLOW PAGES?
We tend to hide behind our business and let the business communicate the same we did in the Yellow Pages era:
But that’s boring, and will never attract more customers online through that approach.
As print advertising faded and we moved to the internet era between 1995 and 2010, our websites were able to add more content than had previously been available in traditional marketing. Websites added an “About Us” page that told their story, something that couldn’t be done previously in a newspaper ad or the Yellow Pages. Going even further, blogs provided more detail on the goings on of the business.
The rise in social media, however, pushed the website aside, and moved communications to short-form posts, pictures, and video. It’s taken us a decade to move our businesses to social media, and there are still very few who have figured out exactly how to use it effectively. Point is, business communication keeps changing, so how do we keep up?
THE KEY TO YOUR BUSINESS’S SUCCESS
Well, for one, don’t forget the purpose of that “About Us” page and don’t ignore the blog. We should still be sharing who we are, what we stand for, and what makes our business unique. The two ways to do that?
In other words, YOU are the key to your business’s success online.
Let’s say that again:
This personalization is done most powerfully through the stories we tell. As a modern neuroscientist famously said, “We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.” Story has a way of plowing straight to the heart and mind, getting us to stop and take notice. Then our rational wheels turn to decide whether to accept, reject, or move on. That means it’s fine to talk about Tuesday’s sale, but it must be supported by personalization and story.
Like Tim who came before you, don’t be afraid to be yourself on The Instagram.