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How to Get Started with Building Your Social Media
You know the term and you probably use several outlets already either personally or as a business. However, there’s more to the social media game than just posting pictures and status updates alone. It’s easy to be sucked into social media and think you’re doing an adequate job, but truly using social media for business marketing is different than the ways you use it personally.
Social media can be a powerful branding and community engagement tool or a numbing time void that will frustrate you and not produce tangible results. To understand the social media game, you first need to understand engagement. A valuable fan on your social media outlets is the one who is actively engaged in your content and even commenting, posting and sharing your business and brand posts.
It’s common to get friends, family or employees liking your posts or retweeting your messages, but that’s not really accurate feedback or data that will help you engage your audience. To start understanding the basics of social media engagement, you’ll first want to know more about the different types of consumers to clarify what types of people are using and observing your social media.
Like your page, but rarely participate in discussions
Share posts that appeal to them but only if that connection is deep and real
Only tend to comment when prompted or asked specifically for advice
May only have passing knowledge of your product
Generally are friends with an evangelist of your product (which is how they found you)
The next subset of consumers are those who purchase. At any particular time, an observer can become a purchaser - however the motivation to purchase is only going to come after extended exposure to your brand online or through the recommendations of others. That’s why consistency in social media is so important. By putting your brand out there regularly and sharing your style with your audience, you’re building trust with the observers so they convert to purchasers. Some may never convert no matter what you do, but many after enough exposure to who you are, will like you and feel like they can trust you and what your company has to offer.
At that point, a purchaser will:
Pay for your product
Use social media primarily as passive observers until they know you
May write about an experience they had with your company and share (that’s for good or bad so great customer service and experience is hugely important)
Will ‘like’ your page, but will tend not to participate often, like observers, unless they are beginning to transition into the next stage of consumer.
Evangelists are every company’s greatest assets. These are the consumers who are familiar with your product, brand and service. They love what you do, how you do it and will make a big noise in their own influential community about using your product. One thing that makes evangelists so important is not just their endorsement of your brand, but their desire to share that endorsement with their community. That gives you an authentic and trusted recommendation in a group from someone they trust and respect. Because of the very nature of the type of people evangelists are, they’re outspoken and often have large communities of followers who rely on them to do the research and recommend the products and brands that make sense. They have a lot of influence, reach and clout and that makes them vastly important to your social media community.
An evangelist will:
Participate on active social media outlet accounts that connect them with a stand-out product they love
Will share your posts with their friends, providing commentary along with what they’re sharing
Actively participate on your page, distilling advice and commentary to the community
Spread your message to purchasers and observers, further swaying their opinion of your brand.
Maintaining Your Social Media System
Now that you understand the types of consumers there are, it’s probably much clearer to see why regular, engaging and valuable content and conversations on your social media outlets are so important. However, there’s more to engagement and your social media than just consumers alone.
Your evangelist tends to be the evolutionary change that brings improvement and updates to a new circle of friends. They bring your product outside of your product’s circle of influence and introduce your brand to a whole new community. That has a trickle down effect that affects the whole system: expanding your sphere of reach and influencing the purchasing decisions and trust of their communities for you. Because they’re so important to spreading your message, it’s important to make your evangelists comfortable and to make regular appeals to your observers to try to encourage them to engage with your content, thus creating new evangelists and spreading your brand’s influence. Find fun ways to engage with your evangelists and help make their natural predisposition to spread the word about you even easier for them to do.
A Word About Content Posting And Frequency
While you want to come up with engaging content that really gets your fan base excited, you also don’t want to be annoying. It’s a fine line between sharing value and over sharing to the point of spam. You want to post on your social media outlets every day (at least every week day) but you need to bear in mind the proper frequency for how often to post on each outlet.
For Facebook, no more than two posts a day or you’ll alienate your audience. You’re welcome to go through and respond to comments on your posts, like commentary on your posts or to post to other pages -- in fact that’s encouraged. However, don’t inundate your followers with too many posts.
For Twitter and Pinterest, the posting can be more frequent. Because of the highly visual nature of Pinterest and the quick news feed structure of Twitter, sharing tweets or pinning new content five or six times a day is totally appropriate and won’t bother your followers. The same thing goes for other social media outlets like Vine, Tumblr and even YouTube. If you can post more than a video a day on YouTube, then go for it (as long as it’s quality).
Now that you know how often you should be posting you might ask, what about the content? First off, make sure your content is stellar. Don’t bother posting if it’s not going to engage or impact your social media community in some positive way. Also, don’t make the mistake of ONLY posting about your business or with hard sell messages. They’re a turn off and will destroy your social media following faster than your engaging content can build it. That can seem counterintuitive but even though your social media outlets are for business, if you only post sales messages people will stop listening. That’s not to say you should never post business information either. It’s fine to put sales and product information and other business related posts on social media, just make sure they’re peppered in and balanced with plenty of other relevant and useful content that doesn’t pack a sales message.
People have to love your product to become an evangelist, but they want to enjoy your content, too. Keeping your content relatable and connecting with those who are most active on your page will empower you with dedicated members of your community. Ask questions of your community to learn about their hobbies, goals, and favorite content that you post to further influence and dictate your strategy for content as you evolve and grow.
Tips For Getting New Followers And Building Your Base
To grow your baseline of fans on any social media outlet, you’re going to have to invest a little time and start by seeking them out. Remember, you’ll need observers to become purchasers and evangelists if you’re going to use social media effectively as a business, so you have to actively go out and seek new followers, don’t just wait for people to come to you.
One great way to do this, aside from consistently creating great content, is to find your audience through similar business topics and follow them first. By liking pages of other businesses that complement yours or that are active in your community, you’ll encourage them to respond in kind. Also, be sure to give shout outs to other people, leaders, community members, businesses and mention events that will help people find you and follow you. If you consistently put out an authentic message that’s on brand and in your own style, people who find you or will look to follow you back (which is common etiquette on most social media outlets).
Search topics in Twitter and start following users who comment on topics that interest or relate to you. Answer questions or share advice. Do the same thing on Facebook and Pinterest: you’d be surprised by how many people read the commentary and will check you out. They become observers at first, but that’s how evangelists are created.
Stick with seeking out people and businesses to follow, search topics and forums, share and tag other’s posts and stories and soon enough, your influence on social media will grow.
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