Taking a Business Approach to Social Media
Are You Connecting With Your Audience?
When it comes to social media, a lot of people try to make it a numbers game. “My brand has 10,000 Likes!” “Well, my brand has 100,000 Likes!”
It makes sense on the surface. The more Likes/Followers you have, the more popular you are, and the more people you’re reaching. But are you really reaching them?
Are the people who follow your posts looking at them and interacting with them? Are they taking the next steps towards making a purchase from your company? If not, then it’s all for nothing.
How many Likes or Followers you have is secondary. Social media management is, first and foremost, all about engagement and connection.
This concept has perhaps best been illustrated by Mark Schaefer, author of the marketing and branding handbook, ‘Known’.
Mark’s entire philosophy of social media in business is that it’s purpose is to create connections, and that it’s useless without them.
Or, in his own words, “Content is the currency of the social web, and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits.”
Social Media Management in a Silo?
The problem many businesses have when it comes to social media, and marketing in general, is that they see it as a separate entity from the rest of the company.
While the marketing division is working to build popular social media pages, the rest of the organization is somewhere else, doing the actual work, and the two divisions rarely encounter one another.
It’s much more effective to work together, making sure that the goals of each division are aligned across the entire organization. That way, when you’re building your social media strategy, you’re not just thinking about Likes and Follows, or improving your company’s image.
You’re working to boost sales, increase revenue, and improve the bottom line. That’s the business approach to social media management. And here’s how you can go about achieving it.
Taking a business approach to your social media efforts should include beginning with its primary purpose.
Taking the time to reflect and ask yourself ‘why’ you need to use social media would be a good start.
What is the end game?
How will your social media efforts impact in your company and what will the desired results look like?
How will you measure success and how will your business based social media effort evolve over time?
Building Your Strategy
Your first step in social media management—or indeed, any marketing venture—is to develop your strategy.
Many companies make the mistake of thinking that all they need to do is have a Facebook page or a Twitter account and post things occasionally about their brand, and that alone will help bring in new customers. But there’s a lot more to it, particularly for a B2B company, where individual fans and followers aren’t the only major goal.
So before releasing any content under your company’s banner, sit down and figure out exactly what you want to get out of social media.
What are your goals? What are the goals of the company overall? To increase sales? Make higher value sales? Retain more customers over time? Now, how will your social media presence help you to achieve those goals?
Once you’ve done that, you can create buyer personas. This is an essential part of strategy building. Who are the people you’re trying to reach? Who are the decision makers in the companies you target? What positions do they usually hold, how much do they make, and what are they like as people?
It’s also important to look at your target audience in relation to your products or services. What problem is the buyer having that can be solved using your products? What end result are they looking for?
What obstacles might there be, to make them think your company might not be the best solution to their problem?
How is what the buyer is searching for at the beginning of their research different from their searches at subsequent stages of the buying cycle?
What are the deciding factors in the buyer’s choice, which will ultimately cause them to pick either you or your competitors?
By creating these buyer personas, you can target your audience more effectively, presenting them with content that they’re more likely to respond to.
Know Your Audience – Ask Them
Do you really know your audience?
Have you researched your audience to best understand their needs and insights at all stages of your audience’s research and or customer journey? Knowing your audience is not just about a customer profile and their demographics, but their behaviour and the insights they can provide.
One way to understand your audience and discover their insights is to interview them and to ask your current and future clients about their research and buying behaviour.
What are their priorities? Their definition of success? What business obstacles are preventing your audience from achieving their objectives and goals? What criteria do they use at each stage of the entire research and buying journey?
What are they typing into Google to get the information and answers they need at all stages of their journey?
This information is crucial if you want to understand your clients and future clients research and buying behaviour, and will also help you create content with the answers your audience needs.
Creating Worthwhile Content
If you want to connect with your social media followers, you need to give them something worthwhile to connect with. The content you post on your social media channels is an important part of your brand, and must be carefully curated as such.
So, what should you post? That depends on what your audience wants to consume.
Based on your buyer insights, what do they respond well to? If they prefer a lighthearted and friendly tone, you can post things like memes and photos, to make them laugh, or at least smile.
If they respond better to a more professional approach, then establish yourself as an expert who’s knowledgeable in your field.
You can post things like links to the latest news and articles that are relevant to your industry. Or if your target audience is more in tune with a helpful and friendly demeanor, you can post quick tips and advice that will appeal to them (this idea is particularly ideal for Twitter).
All the content doesn’t have to be yours: you can share things you find around the web, and on other social media channels like your own.
Just be sure always to give credit where it’s due. Whatever you post, make sure it’s something relevant to your field, which your target audience will be interested in.
Keep your buyer personas in mind at all times, and know who the target is for each piece of content you release. And never release anything that isn’t aligned with the overarching strategy you’ve developed.
Once you’ve settled on the type of content you want people to associate with your brand, you need to think about how to get your fans and followers to interact with it. It’s not enough that they follow your page and occasionally scroll through your posts.
If you want to convert them into leads or sales, they need to be invested in who you are and what you’re doing.
Images are particularly effective in this regard, as they catch the eye more effectively than plain text. So, tag posts with an image whenever possible, and keep your descriptions short and to the point.
When you post links, you should craft your headlines to grab people’s attention and make them want to know more.
Some organizations use inflammatory or intentionally deceptive headlines, called clickbait, to accomplish this. This is a bad approach, though. Sure, it may entice people to click the link, but when the content fails to deliver on what was promised, it often leaves the reader feeling angry or annoyed and therefore less receptive to the actual message being conveyed.
Instead, try taking a single fact or interesting quote from the content you’re posting, which will make the reader curious to know the context.
One great way to encourage interaction is simply to ask questions. “Do you agree with this?” “What’s an example from your own life?” simple prompts that lead people to replying to or commenting on your posts and bring them one step closer to conversion to a solid lead.
When they do comment, engage with them. Have someone on your marketing team whose job it is to monitor your social media accounts, replying to comments, addressing concerns, and generally interacting with your followers. This will open the lines of communication and show people that you’re more than just a faceless brand. You’re someone who really cares about and wants to help them.
Taking the Next Steps
Most importantly, be sure to include a clear way for people to get more information about your brand and products, if they want. Post links to a landing pages on your site—places where people can provide their contact information and show that they’re interested in what you offer — turning that interest into new leads which you can begin to nurture in earnest.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit!
Post new and different types of content and use different techniques, to see what people respond to.
Try new things and measure the results, then focus on what gets the best reactions. Find the approach that works best for you, to generate leads and increase sales.
This is the ultimate goal of your social media presence: to generate leads and ultimately make sales.
Your Facebook page or Twitter account is just the method of introducing people to your brand and showing them who and what you are.
By establishing a connection with your social media audience, you can gain their trust and become an important part of their online world. And if you can build that kind of relationship, you’re paving the way to make them lifelong customers.
gnooko Digital Marketing
Robert (Rob) Burns is the Managing Partner of gnooko Digital Marketing. Rob is a recognized specialist in digital business development strategy and its implementation. Rob has over 20 years’ experience advising companies of all sizes in various business development, sales, and marketing roles. In addition to global conglomerates, Rob has also assisted small and medium sized companies with digital marketing strategy, solutions, tactics and implementation.