It’s nearly 2018, and Social Media Marketing (SMM) isn’t anything new. Everyone running their own small business realizes they need a social media presence for their business, so that their customers can connect with them. Even the most beginner entrepreneurs realize one of their first steps is to create a Facebook page.
Despite the fact that people know they need SMM, most people don’t really know what SMM is. People don’t understand the purpose of social media marketing, and don’t know how to utilize social media as a powerful long-term resource that can consistently convert users.
That purpose is to connect with customers to create a sense of community around your brand. Your SMM should make potential customers feel like they are missing out on being a part of something, and it should make current customers feel like they are a part of something fun and great.
The challenge in SMM is that everyone is trying to connect to your customers. Other business you compete against are, other businesses that make totally different things are, and all the businesses there are are competing against friend’s status updates and that one guy who shared that hilarious Buzzfeed article.
When you think of using social media, you should think of yourself, standing on a platform holding a megaphone, speaking to a crowd of people at a country fair. Because that’s what social media is; social media is the digital megaphone you use to speak to people. You are a vendor at a fair. And much like the people at the fair, the people on social media did not come there to listen to you.
Most people’s instincts in that circumstance is to yell louder. But the problem isn’t that people don’t hear you, it’s that people don’t care about what you have to say. Think about it yourself – think about the last social media channel you saw that just blasts advertisements. Is that an account you feel like visiting? To get customers attention on social media, you have to say something they want to hear.
Social media is meant for building a community around your brand, not just for using the megaphone to yell in customer ears. In other words, social media is not for driving sales. Facebook has an abysmally low conversion rate of 1.85%… and they have the highest conversion rate of any social media platform. Clearly, social media isn’t the most effective place to make sales. What it is effective at is building a brand.
So, with that in mind, let’s discuss some guidelines for what you should post on your social media in order to build long term success:
Step No. 1: Content someone wants to read.
Your posts can’t just say “Buy our product!” “Buy our product!” “Buy our product!” over and over, with only slight variations. Nobody wants to read an ad, and everyone already has enough advertisements in their newsfeed
Share content that someone wants to read, content that has a point. Content that does have a point:
- “We are running a limited time only sale!”
- “We are running a giveaway – Enter to Win!”
- “We just won an award – We’re officially the BEST!”
These are posts someone would be interested in, and they still drive sales without being overly aggressive about hawking product.
Step No. 2: Respond to individual customers
Social media is a platform for building a community, and the best way to get people to become a part of a community is by interacting with them.
Yes, ideally, your customers are interacting with each other and build a thriving community with no involvement on your part. But to get there, you’ve got to till the soil yourself. So go out on social media and interact with real, individual customers like you are just two people having a conversation. Don’t be your business, be the person behind the business, the person with thoughts and feelings just like your customer.
Step No. 3: Invite conversation
If you want to build a community, you have to let people know you want that. Invite people to tweet at/post on your social media accounts. Ask questions of your audience and invite them to respond in the comments. Some questions you could ask are:
- What people think of your social media posts
- What people think of your latest product
- What they had for breakfast that day
- What their preferences are for your product – if you offer color options, which of your options is their favorite color?
Any question you can come up with is great. The best questions are a mix between relevant for your business, and genuinely curious about your customer’s life. For instance, it would be good for a cereal company to ask what your customers had for breakfast that day, and it would be clever for a shoe company to ask what shoe their customers wear most often.
Step No. 4: Share industry information
Be a source of expert information for your customers. You want your customers to see you as an authority on your topic, and they want to know that you keep up with things – so that when they come to your social media for news, they know they’re getting what they need to know.
To do this, share good content about your topic with your audience – even if you’re not the source of the information. Stay plugged into the best blogs and news sources for your industry, and share the best information with your audience.
The best way to connect to people on social media does depend on the platform you’re using (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) but the principles of Social Media Marketing are the same across all of them. The basic principles of SMM are the basic principles of marketing – give your customers value, and they will give value back to you.