1. Know Your Audience
I’ve done a lot of talking and learning about what exactly a buyer persona is, and what potential they have to shape and drive your business (thank you Hubspot). When we approach social media, it is important to look at your audience with the same care and consideration. The most powerful thing about social media is the momentum it has. There is a fundamental shift in your business reach when you employ these platforms. Moving away from a one-to-many traditional strategy and towards many-to-many, you can engage in those important conversations not only customers are having, but also with people in your industry. Know the habits of your audience. Do they frequent Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn? If so, you need to have a presence in those places. Additionally, it is vital to note the key times of the day that your buyer persona spends on the web. We want to delight them with social media content at the most convenient times so that they are thinking about us when they drink their morning cup of joe or unwind after a long day of work. Don’t keep the interested customer waiting.
2. Clickbating = Bad
What the heck is clickbating anyway? Certain web content is aimed at generating the most possible clicks and does so through catchy titles that skip out on thought-provoking content. These websites, not to mention any names, *cough* Buzzfeed *cough* give just enough information to get surfers of the web to click the article link, with no concern of the truthfulness or citing original sources. While this technique sees high click-through rates, it often leaves the customer yearning for more. This tactic may work for some, but it is not a sustainable marketing practice. Have you ever been on Facebook and seen an article with a title like “17 Reasons Wine Makes the Best Valentine” and clicked the link, just because you like wine? Yeah, me too and that’s okay because wine is really good, but that only works for that kind of business. Venture capitalists like Emerson Spartz argue that being viral is king. I agree, but there is a line that must be drawn in order to not sacrifice integrity for your business while using social media as a tool. You may be tempted because there is a serious opportunity to hit wide ranges of audiences by maximizing patterns of success and not focusing on the content. Spartz’s current project, Dose, is a website full of content based on promotion and packaging perfect for your average ADD fourteen year-old. Seems awfully similar to those dying traditional outbound marketing techniques I’ve talked about in previous posts and in the same way, it can backfire. Those same techniques they use to become viral, could be to their detriment, says Forbes. We want to be viral, in a good way, because we earned it.
3. Care for your Customers
The phrase, “customers come first”, is reiterated so often that I think every customer service worker since Ancient Mesopotamia could tell you that. Let’s be honest, sometimes we question why the business must bend over backward for the customer. The answer is simple: the business would not be there without the support of the people buying into it. If our ultimate goal of social media marketing is creating lasting relationships, there needs to be some TLC for the customers. First, don’t just talk about yourself in every blog, tweet and Facebook post; no one likes sitting next to the guy on the airplane who won’t shut up about how awesome and successful he is. A business that just promotes itself, in the same way, feels similar to the self-absorbed and unaware dude on the airplane. Hubspot says follow the 80/20 rule; 80% of social media content should be stuff that helps the customer, talks about the industry or answers questions, while 20% can be focused on promotion. This is a good measure for keeping your “airplane etiquette” in check.
4. Integrate Social Media into your Company Culture
One of the beautiful things about social media is just that it’s inherently… social! This has the potential to connect people form different functional areas of your business. Some of the best innovations come from ideas that are brought together by diverse groups of people. Talk about great product development. And what better way to get these different types of people working together and talking than social media? Moz, a social media expert, says that while customers are important, their every word shouldn’t be treated as gospel. Another important input for development and improvement can come from within your company itself. Sometimes integrating social media into your company culture is beneficial and it is so simple, it’s silly not to do just that. For example, HR can use social platforms for new job postings and recruiting. Internal social networking is an opportunity to build a strong foundation and culture within your business. Some discretion is advised of course; some of these platforms work best with certain types of atmospheres. If being silly and having light hearted banter and jokes are encouraged and accepted in daily life at the office, go for it! If not, you might want to approach it from another angle, maybe Google+ and LinkedIn are more effective. Build social within your business culture so that the foundation of your house is strong.
5. Be a Human
Finding your individuality as a business is such an important point it could not go unmentioned. Interact with customers as if they are your grandma, friend or classmate. Know them, be empathetic, be funny, be respectful, be all of the qualities that you wish to put out into the world. The energy you release into the social environment sets the tone of your brand personality. Avoid being the bland white bread and be something with nuts, grain, diversity and flavor! It will end up being more valuable (and nutritious) for the business and the customer in the long-run. If you make your network one that connects and includes, you will also see benefits. Your brand will seem infinitely cooler to users if you make them feel special. Don’t be the bully on the playground that won’t share the swing. According to Moz, by making people feel part of the “in crowd”, it creates balance and makes the relationship feel trusted and real. Most people in their everyday life strive to be a good person and it’s not always easy, but doing the right and good thing for your business isn’t always easy. Much like in life, you cannot afford to not be human.
Building great social media is like building a house. Make it strong, create a foundation, remodel when needed, clean it up occasionally and invite friends over for a fancy dinner party with wine and cheese.