The social media holy grail
I remember watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for the first time. I was on the edge of my seat the whole film, and I still think it might be the best movie in the original trilogy. We got to meet Indy’s dad, and everyone was after the holy grail and its power to heal and grant immortality. Who wouldn’t go after that?
Social media is all about sharing, and that’s the holy grail of advertising. Every social network is designed around this — the share, the like, the retweet, the “regram” — all different names for the same thing. Having your posts shared gives them new and longer life.
If you’re reading this, chances are you understand the importance of engaging your audience through social networks, and you most likely need help managing your business accounts. Well, let’s just say …
Welcome to The Information Age, starring Social Media. Take Facebook, for example, the top social network right now. The place where users follow stories from their friends, post pictures, and share their “likes” (and dislikes) is now one of the top places where Americans get their news, according to The International Business Times.
You may have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., yet still not be considered “social.” Despite the reported success of social media as a marketing channel, we’ve seen way too many businesses fail at it.
A lot of businesses believe social media has all the answers to their marketing needs, yet Yahoo! Finance shares some surprising findings from a social study conducted by A.T. Kearney:
- 38 out of 48 companies have either filtered their wall to show company-only posts, or have restricted their walls exclusively for company posts.
- 27 out of 48 companies did not respond to a single customer reply
- 94% of companies land visitors on a one-way communication page
These companies set up their accounts, promote a few things once in a while, and leave it at that. They broadcast instead of captivate. Such approaches are never going to work.
We could almost bet that when you decided to implement social media marketing in your business, you may have done so as a means to reach the highest number of people as possible. Just keep in mind that even if a visitor to your page is already a customer, they need reasons to remain loyal to your brand and keep coming back. Don’t replace your current practices with social media. Instead, incorporate social media into your current practices and try to keep a consistent tone overall.
Set for success
There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration to ensure you’re not just riding the social media marketing bandwagon. To win at social media and take the checkered flag, you need to play by the rules of the game. A social game, at that. So let’s talk about some practices that will set your business up for success on any platform you decide to use.
If you’re really committed to doing this with your company’s and your customers’ best interests in mind, then you’ll quickly learn what kind of revved-up hot rod social media can be.
So, how can you make social media work for your business?
First, you must determine the value of your consumer, because they will notice it. As the saying goes, “Silence is the loudest sound.” If a visitor feels ignored on social media, he or she might feel that their value as a customer is gone. Would that customer then have a valid reason to return? What reasons does a potential customer have to try your product or service?
Keep this question in mind when engaging your audience: Are you talking at your customers or to your customers?
Find which platform works best for you
Not all social networks are right for every business, so don’t try your luck on every single one. Facebook and Twitter are great for most. But you need to take more into account when deciding which platforms are worth your time, like finding out where your customers are. Getting to know your audience is the first step in the ladder of success with social media. If you notice that your customers are scattered across a wide range of social networks, try to focus your efforts where they’re most active.
Engage with your customers (and potential customers) in a way that is appropriate to the social network you’re using. For example, the more business-like feel of LinkedIn, the “world’s largest professional network,” is quite different than the personal approach on Facebook, which lets you “connect with friends, family, and other people you know.” This leads us to our next point …
Write individual and personalized posts for each network
There are tools online that allow you to write one message and share it on a variety of social media outlets. While these time-saving tools make posting easier and quicker, they don’t really work for businesses. The sincerity behind your message will disappear, and customers will lose interest and trust. You can share the same posts, but make sure the words reflect the tone of each network as well as your brand. Having a distinct personality in each of your social media pages will make connecting with your brand an effortless task, as it will feel more like connecting with another person rather than just turning into a brand loyalist.
A little less promotion, a little more relationship-building
Let’s define social media for businesses. As the name implies, it is first and foremost a social place. This means businesses should act less like big corporations and more like the people they want to attract.
If you don’t engage and interact with your audience, you are failing to establish a two-way communication channel, and what’s the point of that? You can’t use social media as just another place to throw out ads. Think of it as a relationship-builder. Remember, nobody likes that friend who ignores and talks over everyone else.
A good rule to follow is the one-in-seven rule. This means only one in every seven of your posts overtly promotes your business. The remaining six should be relevant to your customers, useful, and even amusing. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote your business in the other six posts, but it should be paired with amazing content.
While we’re talking about content …
Ask questions that spark a conversation. Social media is built around a sense of community, which means most of its users are there because they enjoy sharing their opinions. Build a community and interact with it. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers to weigh in on relevant and interesting topics. These types of questions increase comments and shares, subsequently improving your online presence ranking.
Share your expertise. Who doesn’t like getting the inside scoop? You could post little-known, fun facts, as well as your insider knowledge of all things related to your business.
Provide value. Including fun posts that reflect your personality is a must, but creating valuable content is just as important. It should benefit your followers. You can post tips, best practices, or even offer exclusive deals on your products and services.
Sharing is the new “information management”
In this social age, we find ourselves sharing more content, from more sources, with more people, more often, and more quickly.
The New York Times conducted a study called “The Psychology of Sharing,” which provides us with at least six key guidelines to getting your content shared:
- Appeal to your consumers’ motivation to connect with each other — not just with your brand. 94% of respondents to the study said they carefully consider how the information they share will be helpful to their recipients, 84% of respondents share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about, and 68% share to give a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
- Trust is the cost of entry for getting shared. If your audience knows you are reliable, honest, and effective, you’ve already won them over.
- Keep it simple, and it will get shared (and won’t get muddled).
- Appeal to your audience’s sense of humor.
- Embrace a sense of urgency. This doesn’t necessarily mean to move faster but rather to move with a purpose, a goal in mind. What you put out there is what you attract. As the saying goes, “What you think, you become.
- What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
Getting your content shared is just the beginning. Listen to what people have to say and then respond accordingly.
Attract customers with incentives
Imagine you’re at a restaurant and see a sign that says, “Would you like a free dessert? Follow us on Instagram, we don’t mind.” Would you do it? Probably.
Only the most loyal customers follow you on social networks just for the sake of it. Most users need to feel like they’re getting something in return.
Whatever the reason, exclusive discounts, free stuff, coupons, a contest, etc. get your customers (and potential customers) engaged so you can remarket to them later.
Above everything, remember that social networks are just that — social. They’re about building relationships, creating a sense of community, and interacting with your customers. If you use social media as just another marketing medium, chances are you’ll receive a cold response.
When our car breaks down, we take it to a mechanic. If we start feeling unwell, we go to a doctor. These are specialists you can trust. So why go to someone other than a specialist for your marketing needs? 8 Signal is here so you don’t have to go at it alone, and we’ll save you the headache of hiring a rookie who may not deliver the results you need. Feel free to visit our website or give us a call at (915) 585-1919.
Photos courtesy of: smkybear, Photography in my “spare time”, royblumenthal, cogdogblog