There is no denying that the popularity of social media is increasing by the day. For sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (herein known as “The Big Three”), the fastest growing demographic consists of users 35 years and older. Though social media was once considered a fad for kids, it has evolved into a viable marketing opportunity for business.
For the casual user, social media is a way to connect with friends and family. For the business user, social media works by sharing compelling content to capture the attention of your target audience. When you do this well, you can count on generating website traffic, client leads and even media attention.
“The Big Three” revolve around the concept of a status update. When you update your status, everyone in your network can view what you have to say. This is where the real opportunity lies. Instead of updating your status to report what you’re having for dinner or that it’s time to pick up your kids, share interesting content and watch the magic of social media unfold.
Type of Content to Share on Social Media Channels
- Your new blog posts
- Someone else’s blog post
- An article you’ve written
- An article from somewhere else
- A video demonstration
- A funny or controversial video
- Before and after photos of work you’ve done
- Humorous or inspiring photos
- Client success stories/case studies
- Free ebook
- Special report
- White paper
- Upcoming event announcement
- Live reports from an event you are currently attending
- Book reviews/recommendations
- Recommended products
- Recommended services
- Tips for doing something better
- How-to suggestions
- A series of related posts
- Recent media coverage you have received
- Inspirational advice (preferably your own, motivational quotes are over-used online)
- Forward someone else’s update (with proper credit attribution)
- Breaking news alerts
- Leads for opportunities (media, clients, etc.)
- Requests for participation (guest posts on your blog, speaker for an event you’re hosting, etc.)
- Interesting photo from a recent event
- Teleseminar/Webinar invitation
- Contest announcements
- Special sales, offers and discounts (delivered sparingly)
- Request for audience feedback
- A compelling question you want answered
- Anything offered for free
- Insider tips that people won’t find anywhere else
- Your opinion on just about anything with target audience appeal
9 Secrets to Social Media Success
1. Content should appeal to your target audience and provide value.
Also, it doesn’t always have to be directly related to what you do. For example, a mortgage broker might share community resources, local event announcements and family-related tips. This type of information would likely be more appealing to the broker’s target audience than current interest rates and articles about mortgage insurance (though you can occasionally include those too). The point is to become a valued resource.
2. Follow the 90/10 rule.
Avoid selling online and you will achieve more sales. That’s right; we’re all tired of being sold to. When you provide value, you build loyalty and trust. It’s fine to include sales offers up to 10% of the time, but make sure you are primarily serving up useful content.
3. Use compelling titles and descriptions.
You only have a limited amount of space to share information which means that a good title can make the difference between a reader who clicks through or completely ignores your post.
4. Track your results.
Pay attention to user response. If you’re receiving comments and your content is being forwarded to others (for example, retweeting on Twitter), that is evidence that your efforts are working. Also, your network should be growing steadily as a result of the value you’re providing.
5. Use links wisely.
When you share compelling content, it provides an opportunity to link back to your website or blog. This is great for building website traffic. However, not every post needs to have a link. Mix up your posts so that some simply offer something short and sweet. You can also shorten links and track the number of click-throughs with a service like http://bit.ly.
6. Be consistent.
You will get the best results from marketing content through social media by participating on a regular basis. Ideally you should share something every day, even multiple times per day, to stay visible. You can automate some of your updates with services like http://hootsuite.com and http://tweetdeck.com. But don’t automate everything! Keep reading.
7. Engage with your audience.
Social media involves a two-way conversation. It’s not just about shoving data out into your network and waiting to reap the rewards. Reply to people who comment, forward and share useful content from others and make sure you have a human presence in social media land.
8. Build a social media plan.
You can venture into social media haphazardly or you can form a plan that makes sense for your business. A plan should identify your target audience, include a strategy for ongoing content generation, should identify frequency of updates and indicate the amount of time and resources you are going to allocate to managing your social media strategy.
9. Implement a 30-day challenge.
Use the suggestions outlined here and focus your efforts for 30 days. The results should be obvious. If they aren’t, then there is something amiss with your strategy. Ask others for input or solicit the help of a social media expert. There is opportunity for every kind of business to benefit from social media. You simply need to find the strategy that works for you.