Managing social media with a set of marketing goals in mind can have its frustrating moments:
- Over 3,000 followers and not a single retweet?
- Hundreds of Facebook fans but only two likes?
- I thought for sure that status was gold! What is going on, here?
Sometimes stirring up online activity with your customers isn’t as easy as it is with your family and friends. But by following these few tips, you can really start to build relationships, create conversations, and generate a stronger following.
Choose The Right Platforms: If the only reason your company predominantly uses Facebook is because you predominantly use Facebook, or because it’s the most popular social media site, then you may benefit from doing some additional research on how your site fits with your target market. While Facebook is the most popular social media site, it’s not the most popular for certain groups of people. If your target market is mainly teenagers, you’ll probably have better luck with Instagram. If your target market is tech-savvy men in their 20s and 30s, your message may be better received on Google+. Every social media site attracts a different kind of audience. You have to go where your audience is, because your audience won’t switch where they feel most at home online to come to you.
Get Visually-Oriented: Statuses, updates, tweets and articles that include images capture more attention than those that don’t. This is true on just about every social media platform. In fact, a tweet that includes a visual has a 74% chance of being favorited, compared to the 38% chance of those that are pure text. This is because photos and illustrations are easier and faster for users to comprehend and they’re able to cross language barriers. For those who consider themselves visual learners, they’re more appealing. Because of the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, images can sometimes connect better with a user’s emotions than text can, and since it’s the user’s emotions that persuade them to like your status, comment on your blog post and eventually purchase the product or service your company has to offer, appealing to emotions is important.
Share Quality Content: When it comes to sharing information on the web, the term “quality content” encompasses many different factors. One of these factors is value. Whether you’re sharing a blog post or tweet, it should have a point. It should be something that your users will care about and be thankful that they have. In other words, not just your announcements, deals and sales. Another factor is accuracy. You don’t want to be the company that, in a hurry, lets a misquoted statistic get out of hand, or worse, helps fuel the epic Facebook copyright notice. You should always take a minute to check that the information you’re sharing comes from a viable source and not The Onion. You should also pay attention to usability. Sharing a broken link will not only waste everyone’s time, it will present you as careless. Quality also refers to professionalism. With the exception of using abbreviations on Twitter to abide by character restrictions, the content you post should reflect proper spelling and grammar. By focusing on sharing good content, as opposed to just blasting your fan base with your company’s message you can start building real relationships that work as a two-way-street.
Start the Conversation: In order to get your friends and followers talking, you may have to start the conversation yourself by literally starting the conversation yourself. Sometimes social media users are a little shy and don’t want to be the first person to make a comment, especially if that precedent hasn’t really been set before on your social media pages. You can encourage conversation by posting an article and asking readers what they think. Posting a question as a status update is also likely to get things going. If you find that there’s not much of a discussion generating on its own, you may have to do a little nudging. Follow up on what your friends and followers have said. Ask them to expand their ideas or pose an additional question.
Interact with Users: If you’re a restaurant owner, and one of your diners took the time to approach you and compliment you on the soup, you’d thank them, right? If you’re an author, and one of your readers emailed you to let them know your story changed their life, you’d write them back. If you wouldn’t blow these people off in real life, why would you blow them off on social media when they’re posting their praises to your Facebook Timeline or tweeting your company’s name? Your friends and followers are reaching out to you – you need to reach back! That’s how a relationship is formed. Take time each day to answer your friends and followers’ questions, thank them for their praise, and follow up on their concerns. They’ll see that there’s a real person behind the profile picture, and they’ll be more inclined to engage with that person.
Learn What Works: Creating a strong social media presence where users interact with you and with one another is not a project that can be put together overnight. It can take three months, six months, or even the better part of a year to fully establish this type of environment. While this process won’t be quick, you can make the most out of the time and effort you give it by recording patterns and learning for yourself what works and what doesn’t. What kind of content has received the most favorites and likes? What usually gets shared and retweeted? What topics do friends and followers comment on? What types of updates largely go ignored? Understanding these patterns will help you choose the right subjects and the right tone for your statuses. They can help you determine the best and worst times to post. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all have analytical tools built into their platforms that can help you sort through this information, while programs like HootSuite, Buffer, Cyfe and Google Analytics can help you as well.