Marketing your business through social media channels
Social media isn’t new. In fact, it’s a subject that’s been discussed to the nth degree, with questions such as what social media platform is the best, how many times a day should information be shared, to hashtag, not to hashtag (that is the question).
This subject has been discussed and pontificated on so many times your eyes may have already started glazing over at the mere sight of the words “social media strategies.” But what often gets overlooked in this topic is that this phenomenon of social sharing is meant to be just that–social.
But first, just in case you’re just beginning to dip your big toe into the social media waters, let’s clarify what “it” is in the first place. Social media is a communications channel and an on-line network that provides an interactive way to meet potential customers and influential people. Engaging with account holders on vibrant channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and blogs are an opportunity to build awareness for your brand, one that you could potentially profit from. Skeptics originally pegged it as a fad, but more than a dozen years later it’s still going strong.
Those who have been using social networking for more than a minute understand that it is an extremely valuable way to get business information in front of potential buyers and to entice buyers to visit websites. Sales 101 teaches us to go where the customers are, and a huge chunk of the worldwide population can be found on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. As a result, social media has shifted from an optional activity to an important piece of a company’s marketing strategy. When a business creates an account on social media, the specific intent is that they are looking for ways to use this tool to make money for their business.
But customers today are a savvy and demanding bunch; and one that has zero tolerance for those who use social media as a megaphone for their own gain. This, once again, brings us back to the “social” part of this effective marketing strategy. Social media should never be used as a business’s soapbox, platform or venue to continually blast out content about me, myself and I. Imagine having lunch with someone you just met and having to listen to that person dominate the hour with details of their life and business with never so much as one question about what makes you tick. Chances are, you would never repeat that lunch date. Social media operates exactly the same way. Businesses, even individuals, who do nothing but spout a continual stream of commercial-like updates quickly get tuned out and ignored by the very people they are trying to build a relationship with.
Here are ways to put the social back into your social media marketing:
Talk, engage and share. Real conversations begin with real people. Those who use social media for business need to listen to conversations, start new ones and add to existing ones to keep engagement authentic and truly get to know those who are connected to them. Show up, be present, comment, share and be real.
Share more than just your own information. Business professionals need to follow the 80/20 rule when marketing on social media to avoid the all-about-me syndrome. The secret sauce of social media sharing is 80 percent of information from other sources and only 20 percent of their own product/service info.
Be present. Checking your business’ social media streams daily and responding to those who have responded to you is the right path to building two way conversations. Businesses should focus on being visible and building long-term relationships; the selling will come later.
Post quality, not quantity. The audience who is watching your business’ activity on social media will be more impressed with high-quality, relevant and useful information that is shared once a day than the handful of cat pictures that’s being shared every hour. Share quality topics that educate, connect or inform.
Treat your connections like your lunch buddies. You wouldn’t show up to a lunch with your gal pals and then spend the hour blathering about auto parts, right? Your social media audience is much the same. Share information that is relevant to your industry and adjust your content to fit your audience.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that social media is a marathon, not a sprint. Social media may be an amazing tool of business, but it is not a quick fix or an overnight success story. It takes time to build up a following and gain the trust of any prospective customer. Users of this effective social tool also need to take the necessary steps to be present in social media and engage in a truly authentic way. HLM
Sources: amyporterfield.com, marismith.com, socialmediaexaminer.com and the experience of the writer.