Social media is a powerful marketing tool because it enables them to engage directly and personally with their customers. This inevitably builds a relationship with the customer or potential customer, building the brand and ultimately driving sales.
Create great content, a lot of what is available is poor in quality and/or is a rehash of existing material. There is also a lot of it so your content needs to stand out. Keep you content fresh and post regularly with relevant content, people hate posts which look promising but there is then no useful content or someone is simply blogging for the sake of it.
Use images and visual content and explain things graphically, many people understand and respond to this better than the written word. Images are also more likely to be shared because they have immediate impact. Informatic diagrams can be very useful for this.
Make you content fun, amusing your potential customers gives you the opportunity increase brand awareness, but keep it relevant. There is a place for games, jokes or amusing facts but these need to have a purpose and are best combined with more serious content.
Social media is social so keep your content personal, use first names and address your customers personally and in a conversational style. But do not be lazy make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. If possible tell a story and share examples and anecdotes. Use photographs so people can see what you look like. Use Google Authorship to present your photo and byline on searches. The use of emoticons are useful especially when dealing with something challenging. Reach out to people who write about or mention your brand or product, they are important to building your presence.
Use your content more than once to increase your exposure. Also add to and update your content and repost as appropriate, many people may have missed your content last time. Tailor your content to suit your audience and their level of understanding or interest. If for example you are trying to reach a technical audience you can assume they have some existing technical knowledge. In contrast if someone is new to the subject matter and needs to understand the basics simple language and a thorough explanation may be necessary.
Content Release Timing
Post at optimal times and on optimal days to maximise the impact of your posts. Thursday, Fridays and weekends are good days, but this is dependent on the content type. Someone looking for technical, work related content is going to be doing this during the week. More social content is likely to be accessed at the end of the day or when the user is more relaxed or has free time. Commute times are also useful for certain content like Twitter and news updates are popular at lunchtime. Also consider hitting different or multiple time zones depending on the nature of your content. This may for example involve re-tweeting to maximise your impact globally. See this great Huffington Post blog.
To be really successful you need to be ‘listening’ as well as ‘speaking’. Monitor social media and interact appropriately. For negative comment decide how to respond, if at all and respond tactfully and appropriately, it is after all your reputation on the line. Analytics tools are also helpful to understand the traffic generated and examples are Google Analytics and Twitter Analytics. The great thing about modern analytics is that we can be very targeted about what and to we present our content and engage only when it is really relevant.
Social Listening or Social Media Monitoring as it is also called is also important. This allows you to monitor what people are saying about you or your competitors or can provide industry or specific topic related information. It helps you get insights into your potential customers, competitor strategy and the views of the industry. You can use simple tools to track this such as Google Alerts - please see our blog.
Consider split testing your content and the social media channels you use in order to find out which approach is most effective for you. Split testing is where you have two variants of content and you compare the traffic generated by each of them.
Connecting with Customers
Identify what social media channels your customers are using by segment and create a presence there. Change the way you communicate or interact with customers to suit the social media you are using. Do not just shift your traditional approaches to the social media platform.
Make sure that your efforts are focussed and fulfil the customer need, a lot of effort can be wasted on things that only relevant to a few people. Social Media is not just another campaign tool and valuable content is critical to its success.
Social media is only one form of interaction, the opportunity to meet face to face and touch and feel physical products is equally as important. A possible way of doing this is to organise events and invite customers to them. An example of this is a software vendor providing a seminar on the latest industry advances. Personalised secondary engagement such as birthday cards or Christmas cards is also an idea.
Where necessary pay for services such as 'pay per click' as with Google Adwords or 'pay to play' with Twitter and Facebook, this is a supplementary approach if you are struggling to get organic exposure.
- Competitions can incentivise engagement and drive initial engagement and brand awareness. This could be to promote your brand in some way or to encourage some other form of engagements such as 'likes', 'retweets' or 'shares'.
- Educational video content or podcasts are always good and a good way of creating a following. Of course this is more complex but there are plenty of editing tools are available including some free ones such as the YouTube Video Editor
- Arrange webinars especially when there is a topic that can be investigated in more detail and you or your company have expertise in this area. This could for example be made available via Google hang outs, recorded and then be shared on YouTube and your website and drive related engagement.
- Open your social media up to users, this may be in the form of ideas for your company, or just unstructured feedback.
- Simple surveys are a good way to drive engagement and gain valuable data at the same time and can be incentivised in some way. Using tools like Surveymonkey makes this very easy. Try to avoid yes/no answers as this is not very engaging or informative for you. Multiple choice options are far more engaging and useful e.g. asking a customer what kind of fish dish they prefer is more informative than asking whether they like fish.
- Answering and resolving problems in areas that you have expertise will attract visitors, because you are adding value. This may even be you showing then how your product of serveries can solve their problems and providing supporting information.
- Use twitter to start conversations on popular topics in which your business has expertise - an example might be a legal firm tweeting about a recent change to the law. Anyone participating will become aware that this company has strong expertise in this area. Try and use relevant and memorable hashtags.
- Social issues are a good area to engage too and provided it is relevant taking a social stance on something that aligns to the values of your organisation is good. Likewise commenting on current events or industry news such as a new release of software can be a reason for people to come to you.
- Offer reasons or incentives for others to link to your content. This means the content needs to be informative and educational, builds your reputation and something that you can build on to maintain ongoing interaction. Keep the engagement message simple so it is easy to understand why people should engage with you.
- Include social sharing buttons on relevant website pages, you want to capture the customer, visitor's engagement at the point of interaction e.g. after making a purchase or having viewed some useful content.
- Obtain feedback comment and make sure you respond otherwise it will seem a waste of time to the customer. Use the responses to respond back to your customer or visitor and keep the conversation going.