I’ll tell you right off the top: I’m not a social marketing expert. I have to work hard to create content, get followers and improve engagement. Many small business owners face this challenge. I do know this: 1. You don’t have to be a social marketing expert to get good results and 2: You should use social marketing as a part of your overall marketing strategy, not your only marketing strategy.
What I’ve learned isn’t about “hacking growth” or whatever is trendy. It’s about tested and true practices. Once you’ve created a repeatable social media model, you can use it to consistently develop and grow your brand. I’ve made a few mistakes while developing my own model. Here are some of them…
1. Don’t share with your network. Anyone with a successful social media program had to start somewhere – and that somewhere was probably with nothing. The first step is to let your friends and family know what you are doing. Don’t keep it a secret from anyone. People, by their nature, want to help other people. Count on your personal network to be the starting point for followers, readers and likers. Enlist a few trusted friends to be your editors and proof-readers. Assuming you’re on Facebook with a few followers, consider posting an honest message that directly asks friends to check out your new page or website and specifically ask them to like and share your posts. Real friends and associates will happily oblige.
2. Change your message often, be inconsistent. I speak all the time about finding or creating a business model that works and then finding a way to repeat it. My article on this topic was published not too long ago. Please click here to read it. The message is just as true in marketing. Decide who you are and how you want to be perceived before you start broadcasting to the world. “Disruptor”, a trendy word right now, means someone who will break the mould, attack from different angles and become unexpected. While that is catchy and can have positive short term effects, if it distracts too much from what your core brand is it will only leave your prospects and customers confused in the long run.
3. Leave long gaps without activity.There’s no faster way to lose your followers’ interest than to not provide them with new content. Try to set yourself up on a schedule − again, repeatable consistency. Post new content on whatever schedule is suitable for your business, whether it’s daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, just make sure it gets done. People will get used to seeing new material from you at certain times and that is a good thing. If you like to work in flurries of activity or in the middle of the night, use a scheduling tool so your content is published when it’s the right time and people are looking. If you don’t have new content, be sure to keep your platforms active with quality and relevant re-posts. Share other’s work that your followers might find interesting and useful.
4. Don’t follow up. Now that you’ve been delivering great content and attracting some followers, they will start to respond. They will comment on posts, share your ideas and give you their email addresses to receive more. Now that you have their attention, it’s time to act. Thank people for their activity. Send them direct messages when it’s appropriate. Email material to those who gave you their addresses. Create a personal connection that makes it just a little bit harder to turn away from. Not following up is like starting a conversation and not saying anything after the introduction. Keep talking! You are competing for your followers’ attention.
5. Don’t pay attention to peers, competitors or people smarter than you. You can learn something from everyone – so find out what it is. It is unlikely that what you are doing has never been done before. Research and find out the best practices of related businesses and your competitors. What are they doing that seems to be working? What can you learn to avoid from them? Look to leaders in your industry and see what they are doing. Better yet, ask them! Try to engage with them and get some good coaching and advice out of the connection.
6. Use ONLY social marketing for your business. The point here is to look at the broader concept of marketing for your business. The reality is many people get caught up in social media as the only marketing they do. You can be disengaged and just sit behind your computer sending words out into space, but quality marketing has to extend beyond that. It has to make an emotional connection to drive activity. Make sure your marketing goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Different parts of your strategy support the others. Find ways to meet prospects face to face. Make it meaningful. Make it personal.
There may be a magic formula for successful social marketing, but I don’t know what it is. The marketing formula that has worked for me for more than 20 years of business ownership is a steady, consistent and quality brand message. Be engaging. Be interesting. Make social marketing personal.
I always appreciate feedback. Please feel free to comment. To find out more please contact me at businessmattersconsulting.com or of course at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!