Unfortunately, just having a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media page isn’t enough to provide benefit for your business. If you started one simply because it seemed like the thing to do then, sorry to say, you’re probably doing it wrong.
A truly effective social media campaign requires setting definite goals (what you hope to get out of your efforts) and finding a way to engage your audience with relevant content.
However, creating great content requires a lot more work than simply firing off a few tweets now and then. To build a social content strategy that really works for your business you have to thoroughly answer three questions:
- Who am I?
- Who are they?
- What do they like to talk about?
Here’s how you go about answering those questions:
Who am I?
- Define Your Personality: The question, “who am I?” really refers to the persona of your business. Since social media is for socializing, your business’ interactions should have a personal, human approach. This means you have to know what type of personality you want your business to project. Sure, you may have different team members posting updates and making comments, but they should all use the same general tone and “sound” like your brand. Of course, you should choose a tone appropriate for your audience (more on knowing your audience is below). For example, if your business is involved in B2B sales and your audience is a group of serious professionals looking for industry information, you shouldn’t start cracking jokes related to pop culture, because they probably won’t “get” it. Perhaps worse is changing your personality or general topic from day to day. Such a fickle approach is a surefire way to send your audience to someone they find more relatable.
- Know Why You Matter: These days, just about every business has some type of social page, so you have to ask yourself, “Why should consumers bother to come to my page?” In other words, you have to know your place in the online social world. Determine what makes your business different. Do you offer something unique? Are you better than the competition? If so, how are you better than the competition? Knowing what sets your business apart is something every business should outline for general marketing purposes, but in regards to social media, it helps you decide how to focus your messages and your personality. For instance, if you claim to have the best customer service in the industry, prove it on your social pages by interacting one-on-one with your followers, providing helpful information, and responding quickly to comments.
Who are They?
- Pinpoint Your Audience: Understanding your audience takes a bit more work than knowing yourself, but it’s a vital step in creating successful social content. The first thing to do is pinpoint your target demographic. Determine their age range, gender, interests, lifestyle, and more. Most importantly, establish why they use your product or service. Knowing such information makes it easier to plan what type of content to provide.
- Find Where They Hang Out: There are multiple social networks available and your audience may hang out at one more than the others. As a small to medium-sized business, you may not want to devote resources to several social platforms when the bulk of your audience is on only one or two sites, so finding out where they spend their time can tell you where to focus your efforts. For some demographics, it’s easy to know where they’re at (examples: Pinterest is dominated by women and LinkedIn is full of professionals), but for more obscure audiences you can use free “listening” tools like Google Alerts or TweetDeck that will send you daily emails and tweets about keywords or topics you’re following, or you can invest in a paid service and get a more detailed analysis about where conversations relating to your industry/products are happening.
Also, find out what time of day your audience is generally on the network. If you’re updating mornings and evenings and the bulk of your followers are paying attention in the afternoons, then most of your content will probably go unnoticed.
What do They Like to Talk About?
Just as in “real” life, being a good listener is part of being a good social media friend (and you want your audience to think of you as a friend). To know what your customers are talking about, don’t just review the comments on your own pages, but monitor the whole social network. Using the same listening tools mentioned above, you can track conversations to gain insight into what your target audience discusses. Being in-the-know makes it possible for you to offer content people are interested in at the moment.
Naturally, if you want to be part of the conversation, you have to use the same language as everyone else and keywords they’re searching for. Even though you might be providing content they’re interested in, if they don’t recognize it, then you’ll never reach them. For instance, if the conversation is about “bird watching” and your using the term “birding” you’ll likely miss your audience.
You can get a sense of the phrases your customers use by monitoring social channels, but for more specific information, use a keyword analysis tool to uncover how often certain words and phrases related to your business appear in searches.
Answer Their Questions
All of your content should provide some sort of value to your viewers, and one of the best ways to offer value is by answering their questions. If someone posts a question on a comment board or forum that relates to your business, give the best, most insightful answer out of anyone in your industry. Or, if you’re looking for blog/video/slideshare topic material, use a keyword question tool to discover questions people have asked in search engines — then answer one of the questions in a posting.
Remember, when responding to people post answers that sound real (not from a computer or marketing drone) and that benefit the individual and the group as a whole. If, for example, you’re a travel company and someone is asking about cruise destinations, it sounds better to say something like, “We just got back from the Caribbean and the weather is great right now. Checkout our cruise discounts at…” as opposed to “75% Off Caribbean Cruises at…”. Sounding genuine will earn you more followers, so always opt for a more personal approach and steer clear of anything sounding spammy.
Once you’ve effectively answered the three questions and have your social content strategy in place, you should track your results based on the goals you initially set for your campaign. Whether or not you’re meeting your goals is a good indication if your content is resonating with your audience. If it’s not, don’t give up! Instead, try to understand yourself and your customers better and then tweak your strategy. Keep in mind, building a solid content strategy takes time, but if you continually strive to produce top-rate, audience-specific content you’ll see a positive impact on your business.