In 2013, social is a key to success
Social media is increasingly becoming a vital piece of digital marketing. In a Vocus study published in late 2012, 77 percent of small to medium-sized businesses surveyed reported that social media accounts for 25percent or more of their total marketing effort. Big companies are hopping on board, too - 62 percent of Fortune 500 Companies have an active Twitter account, and 58 percent have active Facebook pages. (http://hosting.ber-art.nl/)
Southwest Airlines and Whole Foods Market see exceptional regular engagement from their fans on social media sites.
Does social media engagement pay off in better performance in the search engines? Recent studies confirm that social media seems to be playing a larger role in search engine rankings. Sites that have high search engine rankings correlate with high numbers of Google +1’s and Facebook shares, according to the 2013 Searchmetrics Ranking Factors Report.
But sometimes, social media fails
Social media continues to confound some and anger others. While many companies see positive engagement through social media, while many local and everyday companies struggle to be relevant. Unanswered questions on Facebook, Tweets that are never retweeted, blog posts that garner no shares - this is all discouraging to a company trying to get in on the social media scene.
In his famous work “The Defense of Poesy,” Sir Philip Sidney wrote that the purpose of poetry was to teach, delight, and move an audience. We would do well to apply his wise words to our social media efforts, too. Business social media engagement has the potential to bore, annoy, or truly engage people. With the right goals in mind, social media is a powerful way to use words to make real connections.
Whether you’re already active on social media or trying to gather the facts before you jump in, consider five tips to make your engagement more effective - and not just effective, but actually delightful to customers.
5 Tips for Delightful Social Media Engagement
1. Make the time to do it right. Many marketers will try social media, only to complain that it didn’t “work” for them, and that they didn’t get results. Before throwing in the towel, it’s important for marketers to really dig in and commit some quality time to social media, just like with any other marketing effort. If you don’t really commit to giving social media a decent trial, how will you know if it paid off? Scott Stratten, author of the popular book UnMarketing, says social media is sort of like an in-person networking event. It can be tiring and time-consuming, but the interaction will be completely worth it.
Sometimes this means simply scheduling extended time each week to engaging on social media sites, and to have a time each day to check in on what conversations are going on. As with everything else on your agenda, if you don't schedule it... you know what happens.
2. Forge your own path. Every company is unique, and every company offers something special. Social media is an opportunity to capitalize on what you do best - so engage in ways that work for you. Sure, it can be helpful to get ideas from what similar companies are doing on LinkedIn or Pinterest, but ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to social media.
Feel free to get creative with the type of posts, advice, and facts you share. Try new things. Test what kinds of posts get engagement, and make sure that your strategy is a successful fit for your company and audience.
3. Don’t just blab. Listen and engage. In our interview with Gary Vaynerchuk in June, he said that most marketers are spending their money on “dumb crap” when it comes to social media and that if they just re-directed their spend towards the actual customer on social media, the ROI would be much bigger. Social media, he says, allows you to listen, and not just talk. “Everybody wants to Tweet, (update) Facebook status(es). I’m much more interested in listening, and trying to bring them value, and then talking,” he told us.
4. Give people what they want to read. With so many words battling for people’s attention, cut through the noise and really connect with people. Give them information that interests them. Marketing and SEO professional Neil Patel emphasizes the power of messaging in every piece of content you create as a business, whether through social media or website copy. “Figure out what resonates with (your customers),” he says, “and provide it.”
To give people what they want to read, you may have to survey your audience or do some research on what kinds of information your target customer is searching for. This will pay off in the long run because your posts will be more specific to their needs. Simply trying to guess what your target customer wants to read - unless you have an intimate understanding of this already - may flop. Get into the head of a potential customer, figure out their questions and interests, and focus your strategy on providing value for them.
5. Relax. Too many of us view social media as a sales tool. We cloak our status updates in a happy, helpful tone, but underneath runs a desperate current intended to push people to action. If your fans detect a pushy, desperate sales intent behind what you share, don’t expect to hold their trust. Social media can be used to sell, but the first priority has to be engagement. So relax. Don’t task a tweet to sell your business. Don’t rely on one LinkedIn update to generate a hundred fans. Just be authentic.
A relaxed, authentic social media presence is much easier to engage with than one that is sales-focused. It's just like real human interaction. Who wants to network with the guy who is shoving his business card into everyone's hands and giving a verbal resume to everyone he makes eye contact with? Be real on social media, and don't get too pushy.
Remember: social media is about giving, not getting
Social media provides marketers with another avenue to connect in meaningful ways with potential consumers. What it doesn’t do is justify more annoying advertising. The worst kind of social media is the needy, pushy, advertorial kind. In a blog post on “Why Online Marketing is Like Being Attacked By Dogs,” D Bnonn Tennant advises marketers to relax, loosen control, and remember that no matter what they write or share, it’s always the customer’s choice to engage. This fact should steer marketers away from controlling copy. He writes:
You cannot control whether a prospect will click or a customer will buy. And when you have that kind of goal in mind, your copy ends up feeling needy. Because it is “me-focused,” and your prospect senses weakness… he doesn’t like you trying to control him… you lose.
Don't risk losing customers on social media. Do it right, and reap the rewards.