Friendships are important. Some are long-term and some are just beginning, but they are what make us connect as human beings.
Positioning your business on social media is no different than having these type of friendships.
You need to advance your social media marketing to continue to nurture and court the following “friends”;
- Current customers with whom you already have a good relationship
- New customers, or those who have “converted” in some way
- Audience members who have just discovered you
- Future audience members you don’t know exist and who have not “discovered” you yet.
While your content marketing goals should include nurturing the first three “friend” groups, your long-term business growth must focus on the fourth group – the future “friendships” you have not yet made.
You can’t just cast out a wide net, hoping to catch a few new prospects. That is wasteful in terms of time and money.
So here are 4 rules of friendship that can guide your content marketing and help you find future customers.
1. Choose your friends wisely
Image Source: Pixabay
Part of choosing friends wisely is hanging out in the right places, so you meet the kind of people you will be compatible with. And so it is on social media.
You must understand each social channel, so that you can choose only those that will bring results. Jumping onto every new platform that may come along is a big mistake. You will be wide but not deep, and your message will be diluted on all of them.
Time and lots of it
It takes time to nurture a marketing campaign and an audience.
- You have to make introductions, slowly get to know one another, have time for lots of interactions, and then the trust comes.
- When it does, you have to continue to nurture that relationship so that your audience does not forget about you – they should see value in your “friendship,” they should see you often, and they should enjoy your “company” so much that they share your value with other friends.
- And along the way, important others will begin to see you as a “leader”, and want to associate with you too.
Because of the time involved, it is better to have a few close friends (channels) than numerous acquaintances.
How to choose
- Who is your customer? What do you know about them? They are not just an age-group or a gender. You have to dig much deeper than that and develop that persona of your typical customer. To do this, give your customer a name (Sally or Joe), and answer many questions about him/her. If you are not certain if you have developed a detailed enough persona, there are plenty of templates out there you can use.
- Where does Sally or Joe hang out online? Use the research that has already been done for you and save yourself a lot of time and false starts.
- What type of content do you need to generate for Sally or Joe? And where is the best place for that content from among those places they hang out?
- What do you want him/her to do after being exposed to your content? Getting a “like” is meaningless. You want some type of a conversion, and you want that content shared. Figure this out before you produce a piece of content for any platform you have chosen.
If you only select two platforms and do them well, you will see far better ROI than if you pick 5-6.
2. Engaging and leading your new friends
Image Source: Flickr
You want to be of value to your Sally or Joe. To do that, you cannot just produce an amazing piece of content. You have to dig in with it.
Here is how you do that:
- No matter how busy you are during a day, you have to check in on that piece of content often. This is how you discover what questions people have and what conversations they are having, and you have to join in – always. See why 1-2 platforms done well takes time?
- Develop your own style. Are you “punchy?” Can you use humor? Can you be casual? Can you say things simply? Really expert marketers can do all of these things. You need to find a good balance between being the expert all the time (can make you a bit “stiff”) and recognizing others for their contributions (nice to feature your customers). You also need to be diplomatic and at times “referee” heated discussions without offending anyone. This is all a tall order but well worth the results.
- Write well. This doesn’t mean that you publish a piece of content that your college English professor would love. It means that you use good grammar and spelling and adapt your style and vocabulary to Sally or Joe. If you have any concerns about this, get a couple of tools to help you.
Hemingway editor and Grammarly are both good. And for readability, get a tool like Read-able.com. And if you have any concerns about getting too sophisticated, pull out a copy of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway and read it. Follow his lead – no adverbs, no frills, and no three-line long sentences.
- Keep up to date on new features of the social media platforms you are using. They are really evolving pretty quickly, in an effort to stay relevant. As an example, here are some new features that you can expect from Twitter in 2016:
- Even more characters allowed
- Conversational ads that will show up as surveys or polls
- Twitter camera available to the public, not just celebrities
- Q & A sessions
All of these updates have consequences for your content.
3. Promoting your friendships
Image Source: Pixabay
How you package your content is pretty important – not just for Sally and Joe but for the platform you are using. You can take the same content, and package it differently for each platform you use – in fact, you must do it.
Here are some basics that you may have forgotten:
- First, create that amazing piece of content – it has to be wonderfully educational, entertaining or inspiring if you want Sally or Joe to read it, like it, and share it or take some action as a result of reading it.
- Change out that content for each platform. Here are just a few ideas:
- For Twitter you may only place a teaser with a link. But get a bit creative here. How many different titles can you think of for the same piece of content? You can market it under several different very catchy titles on Twitter several times a day. And to make it easy on yourself, automate that publishing through Buffer or some other automated tool.
- Create a slide show of that content and publish on SlideShare
- Use Instagram to post an image and some great teaser or quote and place the link in your caption.
- Start a Quora conversation with a question and then participate in answering that question
- Feature customers whenever possible in your content
- Create a video (they are really simple to do and can be informal and a bit rough – viewers like informal)
- Turn it into an infographic for Pinterest
- Have a great article on your blog with plenty of visuals
- Have fun with your audience. Remember, social media is all about friendship and relationships. If you are a person who can have some fun, show it with your posts. A great way to do this is through memes or a joke of the day with an image on Instagram. If Sally or Joe see you as a real human who like fun, they’ll come back.
- Humanize yourself. Give viewers a tour of your place of business, featuring your office pet and your team members. Tell stories about yourself and your team.
- Support a cause and promote it on all of your platforms. Millennials want to do business with companies that have a social conscience. Check out toms Shoes or Headbands of Hope to see how a business can grow through support of a cause.
- Choose a couple of hashtags that are popular. You can use any number of search tools for hashtags, such as hashtagify.me, and Instagram has its own search tool now, called Mulpix. Check out how Pottery Barn finds its followers through hashtags and then features their posts.
- Locate groups that are already “into” your niche, join them and promote your content through them. Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn all have groups or fan pages. Get involved in conversations and promote your content – carefully and diplomatically, of course. Become a listener too. And don’t promote your content too early. Get trust first.
- Keep promotion more about nurturing long-term relationships with Joe and Sally – that’s really what social media is all about. It’s good to do the analytics, of course, but don’t obsess about them. Focus on the relationships and trust first.
4. Using visuals to appeal to your friends
Image Source: Pixabay
This part of social media marketing deserves its own place among the 4 most important rules for friendship, because it has become such a “force”. The statistics are pretty clear – just on Facebook alone, photos will get 53% more “likes” and “shares.” And of course many platforms are almost entirely visual.
All of your content must include visuals. Here are a few examples.
- Photos can provide amazement, inspiration, entertainment – use them often and the more personal the better. Feature yourself, your team, and your customers. Pottery Barn does this well on Instagram; ModCloth does this well in Facebook.
- Surveys, polls, quizzes, and videos that involve interaction are popular and effective. Use tools like Snapapp and Canva to create some stunning ones quite simply
- SlideShare is a growing medium for searches
- Infographics are perfect when you want to get a lot of information into visual form and they are great for LinkedIn and your blog posts
- The more recent addition of carousels to Instagram lets you tell great visual stories
The more visuals you can use in creative ways, the more your followers will return for more and the more they will share.
A final thought
Friendships, whether in real life, or as a part of a social media marketing campaign don’t just happen by throwing yourself out there for others to find. They require careful consideration, introductions, first dates, and gradual building of trust and common interests.
Look at Sally and Joe as friends, as people whose friendships you want to nurture and sustain for a long time. When you approach social media marketing with this principle in mind, you will be successful.
Guest Author: Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, GA. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks that everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry – check her out on Twitter.