As an online entrepreneur, your time is precious. You don’t want to squander it on activities that won’t generate results.
Social media can either be the biggest time suck ever, or can be the tool that delivers fantastic results. Is it worth the risk?
Sure, if you do it right.
There are three key advantages of using social media.
Social Media Allows for Easy Communication
Through the wonders of Facebook and Twitter, you can instantly communicate with large numbers of people all over the world.
(You’re probably thinking, tell me something I don’t know. Hang on…we’ll get there in a second.)
There are two problems: Everyone else is trying to communicate, and right now, most of those people have never heard of you or your brand.
Which leads us to the next advantage of social media.
Social Media Builds a Relationship with Your Customers
The main purpose of a social media strategy or campaign is to build a relationship with your customers.
Think about it. Social media is all about being social. Relating to people.
It’s all about building a relationship. People buy from people or companies they know, like and trust.
And these kind of relationships aren’t built overnight. You didn’t become best friends with some in the first minutes you met. You wouldn’t go into business with a stranger on a handshake.
So don’t think of all those millions of people out there as just a pair of eyeballs and a wallet.
They are real people you want to connect with and form a relationship with. This is how you build a brand that is trusted and liked.
Forbes magazine sums it up well:
“If done correctly, companies can shape the way in which the public perceives their brand, while at the same time facilitating discussions that can establish or solidify their brand’s authority online. Every day that a company shares meaningful content on its various social media platforms is another day the company is steadily strengthening the very foundation of its brand.”
And whether we realize it or not, we as online marketers have a brand. By developing this brand, we can attract more people to our blogs, posts and lists. And hopefully, over time, these people will grow to like and trust us to the point they will buy the products we recommend.
If you approach social media as a megaphone to shout your advertising message to large numbers of people, well, good luck with that.
But if you think of social media as a way to relate, to build a relationship, you’ll see solid results.
Value Delivered Builds Trust
Given the cutthroat competition for attention online, it’s no surprise that quality matters. Once you have someone’s attention, deliver quality content, something of value to them.
Which is the third advantage of social media. By providing value, it lets people test your brand before they buy.
If they gain from having read your content, they’ll have that much more trust in you. They’ll start to like you. Over time, they’ll feel as if they know you.
I’ll say it again: People buy from people or companies they know, like and trust.
These are powerful advantages packed into one strategy. But how do you make it happen?
Simple. Write quality content.
How To Write Quality Content
In their totally awesome and almost overwhelming post, Post Planner shared three criteria for great Facebook posts:
- Every post contains relevant content directed at their audience.
- The images they share are high quality and you’ll notice always contain their company name
- Gives a clear call to action in every post.
In my opinion, these criteria are useful to keep in mind no matter what piece of content you are creating. They provided me a guide for coming up with five characteristics of quality content.
1. Write Relevant Content
The first criteria is all about the audience. Give them content relevant to them. Not what you think they need to hear.
Bu just what makes content relevant?
I’ve come to the conclusion that it all boils down to one simple question:
What does the audience want, and why aren’t they getting it?
Say for example that you are promoting weight loss products. You audience wants to lose weight, that much is obvious.
But what else to do they want? To wear their favorite skinny jeans they haven’t worn for years? To not be embarrassed to be seen on the beach or at a high school reunion? Or to regain the attention of their significant other?
Knowing what the audience wants helps you to target your message to their needs, their pains, making your content more relevant to them.
The second half of the question is also important.
What’s stopping them from losing weight? Do they not know how to eat healthy or exercise? Or they think it’s too hard? Or too time consuming? Or it will take too long and they won’t be able to stick to the plan to see any results.
Apparently, all of these issues seem to be important. If you don’t believe me, just peruse a few sales letters for popular weight loss programs or supplements.
They all say their method is easy and fast.
The point is, that knowing what the audience wants and why they aren’t getting it helps you focus on content they will find relevant.
2. Help Readers Consume Your Content With Images
More and more, we are becoming visual. Images help us scan content. High quality images grab attention.
Also, images can add a dimension of fun and playfulness to your post (always good for making you appear likeable).
I saw this image in Twitter:
So of course I had to click through and read the article.
I don’t think I would have clicked if the image hadn’t seized my attention. Who knew the Mars reference was to the candy company, not the planet? But it all worked. The quirky image got my attention, and set up the main point of the article. Most important, I’ll remember that article long after I’ve forgotten anything else.
3. Vary Your Content
If every post you make is selling something, no matter how relevant, people will grow bored.
So mix it up.
Provide some good information. Share part of your own story.
And occasionally, throw something in that makes you human.
Or even a crazy cat video.
Anything to create interest and excitement about you, your brand and what you have to offer.
4. Include a Clear Call to Action
Consistently include a call to action. Why? Because you want to train your subscribers or followers to click on your content. Or to at least know that’s an option.
Sometimes they’ll end up on a short video. Other times they’ll see an informative blog post or infographic.
But other times they might end up on a sales page. If all has gone well, they like and trust you enough to consider buying.
5. Set a Regular Posting Schedule and Stick To It
Ideally, you want your Facebook fans and Twitter followers to be anticipating your next post or tweet. The same goes for the people who subscribe to your YouTube channel and follow you on Instagram.
So set a regular schedule so your subscribers and followers know what to expect.
If you aren’t sure how often you should be posting, here’s a comprehensive guide.
More and more it’s becoming clear that social media is a valuable strategy to use when marketing online. Keep the advantages of social media in mind, and don’t try to use it for something it’s not going to do for you.
In other words, use it to connect with other human beings and focus on the relationships. If done well, the sales will follow.