Business owners who know how to use social media effectively have learnt how to communicate with their customers and how to respond to them. Often it is not the specific product or service that you are selling but the way you interact and relate to your customers that bring them back. However, a key element in achieving your social media marketing goals is-in-fact, you: what you write, what you do, what you post, what you tweet, how you participate and your dedication to making your brand enticing to your customers.
Identify your social media marketing goals
Business social media can allow you to engage with your existing loyal customers, attract new ones, build your reputation and create a better brand awareness than you could ever achieve by taking out a full-page advert in the newspaper – if you start with the right goals. Consider these questions to help you identify the goals, the rationalization of why you want to increase your following and where you want the focus of your social media marketing goals to be:
- Do you want to establish yourself as a subject matter expert on a specific subject?
- Do you want to build brand awareness?
- Do you want to revitalise your struggling company or grow your already successful business?
- Are you looking for capable people to join your business?
- Are you hoping to recover from negative publicity or a drop in sales?
In every case the reasons and goals for why you want to increase your following will be unique; so with each goal you set will need to employ a different approach. For example, if you are intending to establish yourself as a subject matter expert this will require you to discuss multiple aspects of your business so that others may learn from you; as well as providing examples so that followers will find your tips and advice helpful and, therefore shareable. If you are hoping to revitalise your business, you could remind your existing followers of your company’s history and why you started and discuss what new ideas you are implementing.
How many followers you should attract to begin with?
How broad a following you want to build depends on whether your goal is to improve brand awareness or increase the depth of recognition and engagement with your brand. If your brand reaches out nationally then you’ll want to engage with everyone – but you’ll need to choose a specific demographic to lead the push forward.
If your business is more regionally or locally focused then it will be more cost effective and productive to limit who gets to see or hear your message – engaging with people who live a few cities away and may never use your plumbing services or come to your dental surgery may be a waste of their time and yours. Remember also that if you have a larger number of people following you’ll need to allow more time for responding to them.
Determining how many followers you want to reach is beneficial to building your brand and will help you know when you have been successful and reached your target. Some people will want as many followers, friends, fans or connections as possible to increase their brand recognition. This way they can engage with plenty of people, provide answers to their followers’ questions, share their information and their expertise, and reach a greater number of people who could potentially become customers.
On the other hand, others will be selective about their followers, friends, fans or connections when building awareness. They don’t want to have to engage with people, get questions answered incorrectly or connect with people who may never become customers.
Now send out those invitations
Start inviting everyone you know and everyone you can think of to join you – but make the invitation a personalised one, not a standard generic impersonal one. Not everyone will accept your request. But when people start to receive information from you regularly, they will begin to share that information with others. People will begin to leave a comment on your Facebook business page or share that link with their network; they will re-tweet your message and pro-actively search you out on LinkedIn (assuming you’re using some of these social media platforms). The secret to attracting people is in your ability to motivate and engage them in the right way.
What should I write about?
Identify what makes you fascinating. Social media has enabled new opportunities for you to deliver marketing messages and gain exposure to networks completely new to your existing business circles. But you need to think about how you are going to capitalise and use these new channels effectively.
The hidden unspoken plan is to understand exactly what you are going to say and how you are intending to attract your following with your social media messages. Successful social media experts understand that the message should be around providing value to the customer. It is important to have a variety of message points that you can use to motivate your followers to engage with you in a variety of ways.
Demonstrate what makes you different, what ‘problem’ your business or product solves, demonstrate why you are better and more fascinating than your competitors. You don’t always want to be talking about yourself on your social media platforms, however – as it is important to connect and share information and insight written by others. You need to let others know what your value proposition is without repeating it day after day. Here are a few ideas that you can start with to get your creative juices flowing:
- Write about your purpose – describe the story behind why your company exists
- Think about your culture – how do you work, communicate, interact, play and promote yourself
- Talk to your customers – find out what they would consider useful and valuable and make a plan to deliver that information, whether it is directly relevant to your sales or not
- Write a message of value – not a product sales pitch
- The benefits – think about why your customers should buy from you or hire you – how does it improve their lives?
- Your product or service offering – what makes you different to (or even better than) your competition
- Write about your core beliefs – identify the values which guide you and what you stand for
- Action – what are the ways in which you walk the talk within your company?
- Your heritage – you might have an interesting story of how the company started – tell the back story of where you’ve been and how you’ve evolved into what and who you are today
- An interesting anecdote from your day – providing a more informal tone-of-voice to your followers – even though you should have a clear business purpose behind sharing ‘that’ particular story
- An opinion about an upcoming event – something in the news or a development from your company or your local community
The heart and soul of social media marketing is about you connecting with others, building relationships and networking. Writing messages that are sincere will help grow your social network and get you closer to meeting your goals and achieving business success