Because Facebook Isn’t Just For Party Pics
Utilizing social media to help bring in new customers and retain current ones can be quite the balancing act. Without any online presence, your company is missing out on a huge customer base. But a business that overwhelms readers with too many posts may also alienate customers. What is the best way to engage your audience online — without driving them to hit the unfriend button?
In many ways, you can cultivate a social media presence by mimicking the relationships that work in real life. Imagine a networking event: would you rather speak with a person who engages you in friendly conversation about your field, or the person who spends every breath trying to sell you something? By cultivating a friendly rapport with your audience on social media, your business can keep customers interested and engaged. Having a conversation with your audience, instead of just “talking at” them, can go a long way.
Remember: you’re trying to reach tech-savvy customers, many of whom live and breathe on social media. Posting compulsive, share-worthy content in the appropriate channels can only help grow your business. And when it doubt, pictures of cats are probably a good idea. It is the Internet, after all.
1. Offer Exclusive Deals
Everyone loves a bargain, and your social media followers will likely respond well to discounts and deals. “If you give your social media followers exclusive deals and promotions, you can develop a larger audience,” entrepreneur and CEO A. J. Agrawal wrote for Inc. Your customers are more likely to stay involved with your brand when potential deals are available. Feeling like an “insider” with exclusive discounts is an added perk. For example, if you have great coupons that are only offered on your social media sites, your customers will be more inclined to hit the “Like” button. Online deals are a great way for your company to gain loyal customers with relatively little effort.
2. Get Analytical
Are your messages reaching the right audience? Targeting your social media for the people most likely to become your customers is the best way to make the most of your efforts. Fortunately, there are easy ways to track your messages’ reach. As Drew Hendricks explained in Forbes, “there are also hundreds of tools to analyze your social media campaign success and failures,” and you can use them to ensure your campaign’s success. By delving into this data to create an actionable plan for reaching your target audience, you can make social media work for you in the best way. When it comes to getting your message to the right people, more data is always a good thing.
3. Connect More Than Sell
While it may be tempting to make every post about your product or service, the constant advertising could turn off some customers. As CEO Ian Mills noted in the Huffington Post, “Experts recommend an 80/20 ratio, with just 20 percent of your content being promotional in nature and the remaining 80 percent consisting of content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.” This will help keep your audience engaged without exhausting their patience, leading to their dedication to your brand for the long haul. If you’re in the business of selling cookware, for instance, then posting creative recipes or cooking tips might be a great way to keep your potential customers interested.
4. Make Comments
The social part of social media is crucial, and many small and medium-sized businesses would do well to jump in the conversation. As social media all-star Gary Vaynerchuk said in The New York Times, “Listening is the point. That’s why I took off. I answered people’s questions, created context, etc. Then they would click on my profile and would see who I was and what I did, and that’s how I built it, slow and steady.” Your team can follow Vaynerchuk’s lead and interact with your customers online as much as possible. By commenting on their comments, for instance, or quickly responding to questions, you can help make your business feel more human and personable.
5. Create Repost-able Content
You don’t have to make every tweet worthy of a Pulitzer, but putting time and effort into your posts is worthwhile. As entrepreneur and CEO Susan Gunelius wrote in Business Insider, “The more amazing content that you publish online through your social media profiles and branded destinations, the more people will want to share it with their audiences.” If your posts are funny, insightful, or otherwise interesting reads, then there’s a better chance of your work getting shared — which is basically free exposure for your company. While you may not be able to engineer a post that goes totally viral, using attention-grabbing headlines and thoughtful content can help your posts stand out from the crowd.
6. Post Properly
This may sound like a no-brainer, but understanding the basics of your social media platform and posting accordingly can go a long way toward making polished content. Knowing “how to use social content on each unique channel in order to maximize results” is a key factor in the social media marketing game, as Michelle Crawley wrote in Fortune. A long post might fare better on Facebook instead of Twitter, whereas a short video might be appropriate for both YouTube and Vine. Getting the basics of posting down can go a long way in terms of keeping your audience happy. Correctly sizing pictures, for instance, can keep your posts looking great, and making sure your links are live is a great courtesy to your audience.
7. Listen More Than You Speak
Or in this case, read more than you write. Social media marketers would do well to “read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them,” as marketing communications expert Susan Gunelius wrote in Entrepreneur. Keeping up with the news in your field, whether you’re a specialty wine store or a catering business, is a great way to stay on top of the topics that will catch your reader’s interest. You will also know what topics have been done to death, and this will make it easier for your team to produce fresh content. It’s an easy habit that will help you produce the most targeted content for your audience.
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