The unique challenge of social media marketing is that, more often than not, we have macro interactions with our audience. We cast wide nets of content that will appeal to a broad range of interests in hopes of building a vast “information ocean” that will continuously attract followers.
Some of the more daunting questions surrounding social media marketing relate specifically to what information we should be filling our “ocean” with.
- Do we talk to, or listen to, our audience through social media?
- Do we sell our company and/or services to our audience?
- Do we help our audience with problems and concerns?
- Do we relate to our audience because we’re people and businesses who have the same interests?
- Do we share outside-the-box things… things that may be of interest, even if they’re only loosely related to our business?
- Do we inspire with new and different ideas or concepts?
- Do we challenge the norm by questioning convention?
- Do we just make it up as we go along?
Well, yes. And, no. Let’s start by defining our mission. On a “macro” level, we need to understand the big picture before we can start devising details. Some of the most important macro elements include intentional planning, content creation and using the right tools.
On a “micro” level, the details are what make us stand out in a sea of other online communities. The details tell us what we need to establish and represent. They also tell us what our audience wants and needs. Analyzing the similarities and differences between our business and our audience brings us to, “What?”
Do we talk or do we listen?
Yes! People follow your businesses online because they want to hear what you have to say. You keep providing interesting, relevant information that they can use, and they’ll keep following you and spreading your gospel. But to be a good conversationalist, you also need to be a good listener. There are plenty of high-tech analytical tools available to help you determine overarching results, but it’s also important to see things with your own eyes. Reading comment streams, noting Likes and Shares, seeing what people are responding to, and how they’re responding, is integral in maintaining a thoughtful and relevant social media presence.
Do we sell to our audience?
Of course! But not exclusively. Just because you know what your business is all about doesn’t mean your audience does. Your goal is to make sure your audience is educated and informed about your business or brand, but not in a way that makes them feel like they’re just seeing advertisements. Let them know what’s in it for them. Suggest rather than insist. Show rather than tell. And ALWAYS make sure getting information from or about you is as easy as possible.
Do we help our audience?
Absolutely! Remember to let your audience know what’s in it for them. Help doesn’t necessarily mean showing up with a bandage if someone gets a boo-boo. Help can mean providing resources for everyday issues. It can also mean offering solutions for re-occurring issues that frequently surface in your industry. Help can be a special offer or a simple message that lets your audience know others share their concerns. What better way to show what’s in it for them than to provide a little help for your friends?
Do we relate to our audience?
Remember the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”? We naturally gravitate toward people and things we relate to – and that relate to us. If people feel connected to your business, they’re more likely to become and remain customers. In an earlier conversation, we talked about building online communities and how important it is to make sure you’re connecting with your audience. Relating to, and connecting with, your online audience should always be a priority in your social media marketing plan.
Do we share ‘outside-the-box’ topics?
If you don’t, you’re missing major opportunities. Things of interest that are [even loosely] related to your line of business can open doors for you and your customers – both current and prospective. Let’s say your company offers scuba diving tours. If you just promote your company-specific services and the locale in which your tours take place, you are reaching only a small community. If, however, you become a resource of related information, you’re blowing the lid off the proverbial box and opening up your business to endless community- and business-building opportunities.
Do we inspire?
That’s exactly what you do! You’re doing things right when your audience feels they learn from you and that they can count on you for new and exciting ideas. Let’s continue with the scuba diving tour business analogy. Capitalizing on your knowledge, experience and connections in the scuba industry, you can become a resource for all-things related to scuba. Some things relate directly to your business – promotions on your tour packages, a sale on flip-flops with your logo on them, a link to a local publication that did a story on your business, etc. But some things are purely intended to enlighten and connect the dots, if you will, for people looking for scuba-related information.
You inspire your community by showing them what’s possible. If someone wants to know how to become dive certified, they can find answers on your website. If someone is looking for dive gear, there’s a link to an article that talks about the latest and greatest on your business’ Facebook page. If there’s a great deal being offered by the resort near your shop, you Tweet about it. Create a Pinterest board dedicated to identifying marine life that people can expect to see when diving in different waters throughout the world. Chronicle local flavors on Instagram so people can see what it’s really like on your island. Talk about the café just down the street, and how they serve the best sunset smoothies in the world with breathtaking views of the water. (Are you in a mood for a vacation yet?)
Paint online pictures for people so they can see beyond what they currently know. Those “pictures” are tied to your business and your brand. As your information is Liked, Shared, Pinned, Re-Tweeted and linked-back by information seekers everywhere, your business and your brand go with it. How’s that for inspiring?
Do we challenge?
Some of the greatest moments in life are the moments in which we see something differently the first time. Challenge respectfully. Challenge thoughtfully. Challenge with a specific goal or response in mind. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, but just providing a little redirection or a new angle is sometimes all it takes to position you as a thought leader, and that’s powerful.
Do we just make it up as we go along?
We prefer to call it evolving when it comes to e-strategies. If you shoot from the hip, you have a 50/50 chance of hitting your target. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. We aim to increase the odds.
When it comes to determining “What?” to say to your audience, sound planning with a strong focus on “micro” details are key. Your social media communications should carry the same “voice” that your company does. Are you a Casual Friday kind of company every day of the week? Then your social media should reflect that tone as well.
The “What?” that you share about your company should tell people exactly who you are, even if they don’t know you. Yet.
Want to learn more about how to See and Be Seen online? Talk to the specialists at Filament!