Social media – friend or foe?
Startups and other small-sized businesses have recently begun to realize that writing for their website just won’t do it anymore. If that content doesn’t get shared, it has no chance of coming into contact with the audience one’s trying to hunt for.
Anyone who wants to get noticed online makes a big deal out of defining their buyer personas. Sketching the latter is usually made with the help of a brainstorming session where you come up with questions and answers. The same goes for social media.
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No results come from speaking to the wrong audience
The main key to organizing a reliable social media strategy is writing down these major concerns:
- Who are you writing for? Who are you distributing content to?
- What can you do for your audience? Regardless of what you may think, nobody is interested in reading solely about what you do… unless you can help them with something.
- Which format is to be prefered? Are you writing for people who are keen on infographics, pictures or videos? Or may they be more interested in the written word? To attract attention, you may have to combine visual details with text, particularly in the case of social media.
- Which social networks are your buyer personas using? If you’re writing for tech aficionados or busy entrepreneurs, they may not feel compelled to waste their time on fun networks such as Tumblr or Pinterest. On the other hand, you need to target the two if you’re creating light content that anyone, regardless of background or education, is interested in clicking.
- What will social media do for your business? Instead of waiting for divinity to intervene in your success, it would be better to create a simple list of issues that social media would solve for you.
For those of you who have, in the past, tried to design a social media strategy, you may have come across some information that isn’t as accurate as you think it is. Consistent sharing and lightly spamming your readers won’t get you anywhere. So yes, you have to write compelling content, even for social media, but don’t do it the wrong way. It’s quality that attracts clients, not quantity and eye-catching stories.
So you’re not a big brand… yet. But guess what? Even big brands have difficulty in understanding social media and how to use it properly. According to the Harvard Business School, 79% of companies don’t think of themselves as effective users of social media.
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Is time on your side?
The biggest problem in social media is the fact that you actually have to talk to your clients. If, for instance, you share an update of a product you’ve launched and someone posts a comment (perhaps they’ve tried it out or they’re interested in testing it) and you fail to respond, it won’t do you any good.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just about sharing. This is about setting the basis of a relationship with your current and your future customers. Handling various social accounts takes a lot of time. If the one you have on your hands is limited, you have to target the right networks. If you try to conquer all of them, not only will you waste precious time but you’ll also eventually run out of networks to post on.
Since the chances of getting direct feedback are proportional to how frequently you publish, you have to embrace the spirit of consistency. If you have nothing new to say, you can always publish content from your industry’s influencers. The main idea is to keep your followers engaged. Tagging role models is a healthy way of letting them know about you. This doesn’t mean you have to drive traffic away from your website. It just proves you’re capable to stay in touch with events and news from your line of work.
Another time-consuming activity is the analysis part of your strategy. Sadly, this one is almost as important as the actual distribution of your content. Define some communication channels you’ve started targeting and analyze results with the help of simple tools such as the Google Spreadsheet and Google Analytics. Write down the networks you’re using, how frequent your posts are and how many visits actually result from this activity. Just keep in mind that not all site visitors are potential customers.
Have you ever heard of the term social media optimization? It’s similar to search engine optimization, with the difference that the SERP everyone’s using is a network, instead of good old Google. Start by experimenting with various types of content but give yourself a limited time in order to understand what works with your audience.
Planning your strategy
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A valuable social media strategy relies on resources. Some companies invest a huge amount of capital in distribution, as is the case of Intel, that commits to the cause by infusing 60% of their campaign budget in social networking. If you’re only starting up, though, your resources may be more than limited. So, here are a few tips for being social without being suicidal:
- Plan ahead. Know what you want to accomplish by sharing your content. Be realistic and start slow.
- Be selective. Pick 2 to 3 networks instead of attempting to gather an audience with the help of all that currently exist on the market.
- Have patience. Nothing happens overnight. Define a 6 month strategy. Both content and social media marketing bring profitable results, but these don’t come fast or cheap.
- Prioritize. Between sharing a ton of content on the wrong network and sharing one single news piece on the right network… what would you choose?
- Don’t forget about forums. This is where channels such as Reddit or Quora come in handy. Got a problem? Just ask if someone else has also encountered it. That’s how these things work. If you’re good enough to come up with solutions for people, you’re good enough to transform them into potential customers.
- Never overlook negative feedback. If someone posted a comment about how dissatisfied they are with your services, don’t delete it. Be proactive and try to solve the issue. Covering it up won’t make it go away. Talking to customers and giving them a helping hand shows other users they can rely on you.
- Don’t ignore Google+. We may all dislike it a bit, but that’s where all the hype is. If you’re curious as to why you should start using this particular network, we’ll give you a graphic example. Have you ever noticed how search results are displayed on Google+? Yeah, we have too. Here’s a vivid example of what posting over there helps us with.
So, what does it take to have a winning social media strategy?
- killer content & a killer content strategy
- using the right voice to create outstanding relationships with your customers
- planning & thinking ahead
Selling yourself with the help of these basic principles will make you win the trust of your much-desired audience.