Most businesses that invest heavily in social media tend to forget one key component to maximizing their success in developing direct relationships with their audience;
They forget to be social.
Much effort and attention is given to creating valuable content, publishing at just the right time to maximize impressions, determining what triggers to use to incite sharing, figuring out how to encourage comments and ‘likes’, and more.
All of this is great, but there isn’t anything social about publishing content and hoping for virality metrics to shoot through the roof. Even replying to comments left on blog content, Facebook updates, tweets and Google+ posts isn’t truly being social.
Think about it in the context of your life. You don’t go to a party, see some guy standing in the corner all by his lonesome, and think, ‘man, that guy is really putting himself out there!’. He’d probably answer a question if you asked him, but he’s not doing anything to garner attention, attract people to him, or develop new connections or relationships.
Except for very rare circumstances, businesses and brands simply cannot expect to develop meaningful relationships with consumers on social media without behaving socially.
The beautiful thing about social media is that it gives businesses the opportunity to proactively speak with their audience, including current and prospective consumers. That’s powerful stuff.
Initiate a dialogue.
If you are hoping to develop real relationships with your consumers, attract them to participate in the discussions that are occurring on your social media properties, and encourage them to be social, I strongly encourage you to initiate a dialogue with them in the places that they are naturally spending their time online.
By initiating conversations, you are greatly enhancing the probability that you will not only receive a reply, but also achieve reciprocated dialogue. When you create a dialogue with your consumers, you’re going to be better able to understand them, know what they want, fully comprehend their needs, and figure out how to provide tremendous value with your products, services and content.
Develop direct relationships with your consumers.
You are also going to greatly increase the value of the interactions you have with your consumers if there is some give-take. Nobody wants to be involved in a relationship in which they are simply broadcast to. That’s not a relationship at all. People want want to be part of a discussion, and have influence over its course.
This can be unnerving to businesses and brands that are used to retaining control of their communications, but it is also extremely exciting if you can adapt, learn, and be nimble enough to take advantage of the tremendous value that the direct relationships you cultivate with your consumers will yield.
If there is one thing to take away from this post, it is to find ways for your business to be more proactively social on social media. You don’t sit on your hands waiting for consumers to learn about your business or brand in the offline world. You market, advertise, write press releases, work to generate word of mouth, and develop and build relationships. All of this is proactive and action oriented.
On social media you should really be doing the same. Try to avoid turning social media into a broadcast channel for your content, and get involved with your consumers where they are interacting and engaging on the social web.
How do you proactively engage socially with your consumers online?
In future posts I’ll get into details about how you can initiate a dialogue with consumers on social media, as well as how you can overcome organizational barriers to being more social.
In the meantime, it would be great to chat with you about your thoughts on this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
The reality of social media and content marketing is such that no matter what business you are in, you are also in the publication business.
Publishing meaningful content is incredibly important for businesses to cultivate, maintain, and grow their business. A strong digital and social media presence can be a deciding factor for many consumers who are increasingly looking to digital and social platforms to assist them with their purchase decisions.
To develop a strong social media and digital presence, it is critical for businesses to create and sustain regular publication calendars.
The regularity that each business publishes content is really dependent on your respective audience and what platform you are publishing on. For some businesses this could mean publishing content several times per day, and for others it could mean once per month, or longer.
Regardless of how frequently you need to publish new content, it is absolutely necessary that you do so with dependability, and that the content you publish is strategically relevant to your business. Creating a publication calendar can assist with both of these things.
Following are a few of the reasons why creating and sustaining a regular publication calendar is imperative:
Keep consumers interested and involved with your business
Think about the websites and blogs that you visit on a daily basis. It’s likely that they’re constantly being updated with interesting content that is relevant to you. If those sites weren’t updated frequently and dependably, you probably wouldn’t have the same interest in them as you do.
When establishing a publication calendar for you your business or brand, ensure that you’re going to be providing new content frequently enough to keep your audience interested, engaged, and coming back for more.
Dominate search results
Search engines index some types of content independently. Blog posts and videos are prime examples of content formats that appear this way.
If your business or brand is producing content in accordance to a regular publication calendar, your business is going to be more likely to dominate search results for your business, industry, category, and related search terms. Ultimately this will lead to greater exposure, an influx of leads, and if you are able to convert, sales.
Feed your content pipeline
This is an obvious one, but still worth mentioning. Creating a publication calendar for your brand will help to keep content creators in your organization organized and focused on producing content on a regular and ongoing basis. This will result in a steady stream of material to feed your content pipeline.
Show consumers that you’re in business!
Have you ever arrived on a business’ website, blog, or social media network to see that their last content update was 7 months ago and thought, ‘I wonder if these guys are even in business anymore’?
Even if you haven’t thought exactly this, it leaves consumers with a negative impression of a business or brand when they appear to an ill-maintained digital or social media property. It can read as a lack of enthusiasm, dedication, or commitment to your business, which are all thoughts you don’t want your consumers to have.
The simple solve is – you guessed it – to create a regular publication calendar and stick with it. If you’re going to be publishing new content relatively infrequently, it might be worthwhile communicating your schedule in a highly visible place such as your ‘About’ page so visitors will understand when they should check back in for new content.
Continuous improvement and provision of value
Another great benefit to creating and maintaining a regular publication calendar is that it will keep you thinking about your business, consumers, category, products, services, innovation, and any number of ways you can provide value to your consumers through social media.
This will force you to stay relevant, to develop and grow the way you think about all aspects of your business, and your consumers will thank you for it by seeing you as a trusted source of value and leader in your category. Results of this can include increased brand affinity, loyalty, strengthened purchase intent, and more.
There are a huge number of benefits that publishing content on a regular and ongoing basis can afford. Creating and executing against a well-crafted publication calendar can help to keep you, your social media team, and social media contributors organized and working to maximize success.
How does a publication calendar help your organization stay organized on social media?
Have you ever had a negative experience from not employing a publication calendar?
What are the greatest benefits that you have experienced from executing against a publication calendar?
It would be great to discuss this with you further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
So, you’re addicted to growing your social media communities with promotions?
You can grow your likes, followers, or subscribers at warp-speed. Which is pretty awesome; particularly when you’re trying to justify your social media marketing spend to the bigwigs upstairs, or the time and resources you pump into social if you’re a small business or start-up.
What’s the problem then?
I’ll tell you that I’ve worked with more than one client who is pretty dead-set on running social media promotions in perpetuity to sustain rapid rates of fan acquisition. The lure of fan acquisition is strong, and as the promotion kicks off, advertising dollars kick in to drive traffic, and it gets picked up on deal and discount websites, a drove of new people arrive looking for a hand-out.
But then they leave. They leave with alarming velocity. Like vultures after a carcass has been picked clean.
When a promotion lapses, newly acquired fans, followers or subscribers leave because the thing that attracted them to the community is of short-term interest. You can’t really blame them, can you?
I’ve seen promotional programs run their course, and for every 1,000 new fans, followers, or subscribers acquired, roughly 250-350, or more, immediately recede with even more running for the hills shortly thereafter. Let’s face it, with recession rates this high you are hemorrhaging fans.
To combat this, marketers sometimes come to the conclusion that they need to continue running social media promotions. This just propagates and prolongs the issue, and costs lots of money in the meantime.
The good news is that there are several ways to reduce your dependence on running social media promotions for your business or brand. Here are a few:
Get back to the basics of social media marketing
At this stage of the game, virtually everyone knows the basic recipe for social media marketing. Create killer content, engage your audience, encourage participation, get involved in relevant discussions, and on. You’ve read enough articles to know the drill, so do it. Put your social media promotions on hold, and reinvest the dollars you’d put toward prizing and fulfillment to creating something amazing, that will be of long-term value to your consumers, that people can identify with, and that will generate discussions. That should be a good starting point.
Buy into the true value of social media marketing
You absolutely will want to grow your social media audience to critical scale, but number of fans, followers, and subscribers is one small piece of a greater value equation of social media marketing.
Think about how you can convert fans of your brand to loyalists through ongoing engagement. Think about how you can prove your expert knowledge to prospective consumers conducting research about your business online. Think about how you can reduce customer service costs by assisting people en masse through your social media channels. Think about how you can conduct research through social media to reduce your product development costs. I’ll stop there, but the ways that you can measure the value of your social media marketing efforts should be more varied and numerous than just how many fans you’ve acquired.
If you truly buy into the full value of social media marketing, you’ll be more likely to move your sights beyond fan acquisition as your sole measure of success, and therefore, be more willing to ditch promotions in favour of more meaningful and activity on social media.
Make a mission of educating the bigwigs on the value of social media
Okay, okay… maybe you understand the true value of social media marketing. But, do the guys upstairs in the corner offices? Sometimes the over reliance on social media promotions focus on fan acquisition can be strongly influenced by others.
If the guys upstairs, your supervisors, or your owner doesn’t truly understand the full value of social media marketing, you’re going to have a difficult time selling them on how to properly engage, grow and sustain your social media communities. It might be time to make a mission of educating and training them. Organizational buy-in is a must to be successful on social media, and typically that starts at the top.
Have you experienced the same rapid fan acquisition and correlated recession as described above?
Have you had success retaining fans acquired from running a social media promotion?
How have you grown your social media communities to critical scale without the use of promotions?
It would be awesome to chat with you about this, or anything for that matter, in the comments or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Immediately upon completion, it struck me that there are a huge number of parallels between the habits of remarkably likeable people, and traits that make businesses likeable on social media.
There’s a fair bit here that I’m hoping is highly applicable to your business. So, I’ve included a high-level description of each habit, and paired it with how to apply this to your social media marketing efforts to great effect.
1 – They lose the power pose
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: Standing tall, shoulders back, deepened voice, firm handshake. You know the drill for asserting yourself. The problem is that this posturing makes meeting people more about you than the other person.
The key to being likeable and opening yourself up to others is to show respect, be approachable and relaxed. It shows that you are equally happy to be meeting the other person as they are to meet you.
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: Any time you’re making decisions on social media with your business as top priority, your priorities are out of whack.
What do your consumers want? What will they find valuable? What do they want to talk about?
Rather than dictating a monologue, start real conversations, and find ways to provide real value, and your consumers will respond with greater involvement and engagement.
2 – They embrace the power of touch
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: “Appropriate touch can be powerful… It can break down natural barriers and decrease the real and perceived distance between you and the other person.”
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: While you can’t literally touch anybody on social media, you can work toward breaking down barriers between you and your community. You can accomplish this by ensuring that your community knows the people behind your business or brand. By humanizing your business, you’ll be able to develop deeper, more genuine relationships with your consumers.
3 – They whip out their social jiu-jitsu
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: “Remarkably likable people… get you to talk about yourself without you ever knowing it happened.
… ask the right questions. Stay open-ended and allow room for description and introspection.”
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: Shift the focus of your conversations on social media to focus on your consumers.
What are they into? What motivates them? What excites them? What do they want from you?
When your conversations and content is too self-centred, consumer attention will wane as the value of your engagement and interactions will feel one-sided and promotional by nature. No matter your business, you aren’t operating to serve yourself; you should be operating to serve your consumers or clients. By focusing your attention on your consumers, you might even learn something from them to make your business even better.
4 – They whip out something genuine
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: “… Don’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability. People may be impressed by the artificial, but people sincerely like the genuine.
Be the real you. People will like the real you.”
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: Try to remain open to your consumers’ criticism, suggestions, ideas and contributions. They are, after all, responsible for your business’ success or failure, so if they have something to say, don’t dismiss it as inconsequential, embrace it and be appreciative that you have consumers who care enough to engage with you. Remember, whether they consciously do this or not, what they’re trying to do is make a business they have interest in, even better.
5 – They ask for nothing
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: “You know the moment: You’re having a great conversation, you’re finding things in common… and then bam! Someone plays the networking card.
And everything about your interaction changes.
Put away the hard-charging, goal-oriented, always-on [kind of] persona. If you have to ask for something, find a way to help the other person, then ask if you can.
Remarkably likeable people focus on what they can do for you – not for themselves.”
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: I love this point. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of interpretation and adaptation required here. This pretty well defines how businesses should behave on social media. It’s all about adding value to your consumers, not broadcasting your business-centric communications.
6 – They “close” genuinely
HOW THIS MAKES PEOPLE LIKEABLE: Closing on “… Nice to meet you… is instantly forgettable.”
Instead, “close” with a reason why it was nice to meet them, and “… smile: not that insincere salesperson smile… but a genuine, appreciative smile.
Making a great first impression is important, but so is making a great last impression.”
HOW YOU CAN APPLY THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: I’ll admit that I struggled with this one a bit. The reason I struggled is that ideally you aren’t ever ‘closing’ a conversation on social media, you’re simply putting conversations on pause until the next time you engage with your consumers.
This said, you should focus on making each of your interactions with your consumers meaningful enough to ensure they’re left with a lasting impression that will draw them back to your community in the future. Again, think about how you can you add value for your consumers’ and do just that.
So, what should you make of all of this? Well, probably that positioning your business on social media as being likeable is remarkably similar to being likeable in the real world.
Ensure that your business is open, honest and approachable. Don’t fall into a trap of producing content that is cool for your business, but has no meaning or value to your consumers.
And finally, provide huge value. Your consumers have invested their time to interact and engage with your business on social media, so live up to your end of the bargain and give them something of value in return. If you do it well enough, they’ll be inclined to stay connected with your business in the future.
Again, this post was more than inspired by Jeff Haden’s article on Inc, titled ‘6 Habits of Remarkably Likable People’. It’s a great article, so please check it out and let Jeff know what you think.
As always, it would be great to chat with you about your thoughts on this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Image Credit: Veer